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Statistics on the industry-wide use of a transportation management system (TMS), like the Cerasis Rater, are lacking. The most recent report on adoption rates of TMS is from 2015, with only 35 percent of shippers actively using a TMS, asserts Bridget McCrea of Logistics Management. A TMS makes up only a fraction of the full truckload technology available to shippers. In full truckload freight management, technology will make or break plans for keeping freight spend in check. Demand for record-breaking speed of delivery and free shipping are only making the case for greater use of technology in full truckload freight shipping management, and shippers need to understand why.

The Issue: Full Truckload Technology Is Essential to Survival in the Amazonian Age

Full truckload technology is essential to accessing the most carriers, drivers, and available capacity in a tight market. Amazon continues to push its own fleet forward, and the Big Box giants are willing to pay premium prices to get freight to market. Unfortunately, these factors make it difficult to attract drivers for full truckload freight from small and mid-sized shippers. However, technology can change the narrative.

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The Solution: Use Technologies That Adapt to Freight Management Needs

As explained by Zipline Logistics, technologies used to improve full truckload freight shipping management must center on advanced, intuitive technologies. In addition, new legislation is on the horizon, and the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is about to seriously affect available capacity. The pressure to move freight through any means necessary is on, but pressure to keep costs down continues. This is why technology is the solution. Think about what some of these top technologies can mean for full truckload shipping:

  • Electronic Data Integration (EDI) or Application Programming Interfaces (API) – These technologies enable the seamless use of multiple systems to manage freight, ranging from the billing system to in-truck ELDs. Both systems are crucial in a digital world and trucking industry.
  • TMS – The value of a TMS is indisputable. According to Supply Chain Solutions, the cost of implementing and using a TMS is significantly less than the possible savings, with 74.3 percent of shippers citing cost versus savings at less than 50 percent.
  • Mobile Tracking Technology. This includes both ELDs and GPS-enabled sensors or systems to track transit time, reduce violations of Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations, and speed delivery. Mobile technology also allows for continuous visibility and adjustment of routes to avoid potential delays, like severe weather, traffic incidents, and construction.
  • Robotics in Loading/ Unloading. Depending on the scale of warehouses and use of technology, robotics may be employed to load or unload trucks. This essentially frees drivers from the burden of loading/ unloading freight, and it reduces costs deriving from extended loading and unloading periods.
  • Recordkeeping Software. Such software is essential for maintaining documentation for customs, including the importer and exporter of record (IOR & EOR), documenting freight spend, and analyzing overall logistics operations.
  • Big Data Analytics. Speaking of analytics, big data analytics can be used to hasten freight planning, scheduling, shipping, delivery, payment processing, and subsequent auditing, to ensure accountability and enable continuous improvement.
  • Payment Processing Systems. A final key in the full truckload technology puzzle is mobile-enabled payment processing systems. This technology is more prevalent among independent drivers, but it may see a rise with the Uberization of trucking, and as a result, any system used should enable broad integrability with other systems, using open-architecture at its core.

The use of cloud-based systems for logistics management offers many benefits to shippers looking to find the lowest-cost full truckload carriers and avoid steep rate increases. These benefits, reports Jamie Wyatt via Supply Chain 24/7, include:

  • Information gathered from mobile technologies increases real-time shipment visibility
  • Integrated systems provide expedited procurement and shipping strategies
  • Access to real-time pricing for available full truckload carriers.
  • Simulation tools and merging of routes and freight shipping schedules ensures accuracy and accountability among carriers, shippers, and everyone in-between.

The Reward: How to Keep up and Use Technology to Streamline Freight Management

Shippers must understand the role of technology in reducing costs for drivers, even if just reducing the stress associated with full truckload freight management. Thus, shippers should follow these steps.

  • Upgrade to adaptable, open-architecture-based and cloud-based systems.
  • Submit RFPs on schedule for full truckload shipping at least every three years, explains Dan Goodwill via Canadian Shipper.
  • Use tools to consolidate freight into full truckloads, which allow multiple shippers to combine shipments at a single pickup location.
  • This merging of freight schedules and shipments into larger shipments is the cornerstone of freight consolidation, and it demands real-time monitoring via the cloud, says Wyatt.
  • Consider value-added services when outsourcing full truckload freight management, like automated payment processing and auditing.

The Big Picture

Logistics technology is evolving, and full truckload technology will continue to get a bigger plate at the logistics dinner table. Shippers should begin the process of migrating systems to the cloud and consider outsourcing full truckload freight management to third-party logistics providers. This is an effective way to take advantage of best-in-class technology without the upfront development costs associated with in-house technologies.