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When a process occurs that does not fall within the rules and workflows within a TMS, the process is known as an exception. Unfortunately, the increasing complexity of supply chains and inbound freight management will likely continue to force exceptions in established workflows. In the past, someone had to intervene and handle the exception, but exception automation and TMS capabilities are evolving, offering better productivity and benefits to shippers.

What’s Wrong with Manual Exception Handling?

As explained by JP Wiggins via Talking Logistics, traditional TMS capabilities were limited to managing routing, expected processes, but things change. Processes occur that do not fall within the specific guidelines and rules that set forth within your transportation management system. In these instances, the TMS would generate an exception, but handling such exceptions presents significant hurdles for companies sending and receiving thousands of products daily. The issues grow more sophisticated in more extensive operations, such as distribution centers. In today’s supply chains, the frequency of exceptions has risen, requiring more time and resources devoted to handling each need. It is possible to handle exceptions manually, but this leads to additional costs in managing both inbound and outbound freight. Since the goal of a TMS is to improve freight spend and control, as well as visibility, it makes sense to streamline this process wherever possible, and exception automation is the solution.

The Uses and Substantial Benefits of Transportation Management Systems

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Exception Automation and TMS Capabilities Are Key to Successful Dock Management

Partnering with suppliers, creating supply chain alliances and using technology, i.e. inbound freight collaboration, are the top ways to control inbound freight. Unfortunately, shippers fail to realize the benefits and capabilities of modern TMS platforms, including exception automation. Exception automation paired with the capabilities of inbound and outbound freight management allows for the customization of workflows to handle the various exceptions that may occur — automating the exception process allowing shippers to understand results throughout the supply chain and in their facilities.

For example, automating exceptions within your dock schedule will generate automated notifications of potential issues, allowing users to reschedule deliveries or scale current loading and unloading processes to eliminate the exception. Of course, other exceptions can be handled seamlessly, such as notifying drivers of different delivery timelines or advising suppliers of potential delays, reducing the risk of detention time. Exception automation offers additional benefits for inbound freight management.

Benefits of Exception Automation for Inbound Freight Management

While control of inbound freight remains the apparent benefit of exception automation, its use will have broad implications for your business. Shippers that implement exception automation within a TMS will realize these key benefits:

  • More time to focus on outbound freight management. Since inbound freight for consumers represents the profit-generating aspect to your business, reducing the amount of time spent on inbound freight allows for more time to focus on outbound freight.
  • Reduced costs. Lower costs of managing inbound freight will lead to reduced product price points and improved customer service levels.
  • Better handling of complex exceptions. It is easy to think about how a TMS will handle small exceptions, but the type and complexity of exceptions have increased in tandem with their frequency. Advanced features within a TMS allow for the handling of complex exceptions as well.
  • Optimized processes to ensure the proper routing and fastest resolution. When exceptions do occur, optimization workflows within the TMS ensure the appropriate routing and quickest resolution. As a result, less time is lost, resulting in greater efficiency and profitability in your supply chain.
  • Fewer opportunities for error in handling inbound freight documentation and management. The risk of mistakes when handling exceptions manually continues to exist, but automating the process eliminates many of these opportunities for error.
  • Applicable to retroactive management and auditing of records/processes. Exception automation is also useful in managing paperwork and processes in retrospect, such as auditing processes and completing billing and accounting work.
  • Proactive, advanced notification. When an exception does occur, the TMS can be used to generate a predictive model, helping shippers understand when and why exceptions are likely to occur, as well as providing automated locations.
  • Creation and managing of data for additional improvements in your supply chain. The use of data is one of the greatest benefits to a modern supply chain, and exception automation provides another data stream for use in improvement within your supply chain.

Listen to “What are the Full Cost Savings of a Transportation Management System” on Spreaker.

Let Your TMS Do the Work

Increased visibility through a TMS, like the Cerasis Rater, is actively used today to gather, translate and leverage data and overcome exceptions. Furthermore, the use of exception automation is a key talking point and justification for upgrading your TMS and controlling, as well as reducing, freight spend. Instead of trying to micromanage everything, shippers should put the power of exception automation and TMS capabilities to work in their organizations, automating and streamlining inbound freight management.


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