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Transportation management systems (TMSs) have become among the top discussed subjects in mainstream media and across the internet. TMSs give shippers unparalleled access to information within their organization and better rates than previously possible. Earlier this year, we looked into some of the top trends pushing the TMS train forward, and safety and automation were clear frontrunners. As we begin the second quarter of 2017, let us take a moment to think about why TMS automation begets more efficiency.

A TMS Works Independently.

Accuracy, precision, and reliability are fundamental concepts within modern TMSs. Automated data capture, analysis, and presentation through dashboards helps you see what is going on in your company. More importantly, people cannot change the data at their discretion. In other words, the information is accurate and data-based, not subjective assessments of managers who want to get in good with the boss. This independence naturally lends itself to more efficiency in performance management and ensuring everyone, including inbound and outbound logistics partners, stay on the same page.

It Maintains Inventory Control and Flow.

How much inventory do you have right now? Is it perishable, and are you sure it will be sold? If you had implemented a TMS, you would enough data to make an educated decision on what products are likely to be sold and which should be returned to the manufacturer. More importantly, modern TMSs can be integrated within existing ERP or warehouse management systems to provide greater visibility and accuracy in inventory control.

For example, natural disasters may require rerouting of products in one area of the country. The TMS can recognize this issue and automatically adjust future or in-progress routes to accommodate the issue.

If a shipment needs to be recalled, drivers can receive automated alerts and notifications of the appropriate course of action. This can have wide-ranging benefits for improving driver safety as well. The key to efficiency is increasing visibility and responsiveness across the supply chain.

Customer Service Levels and Satisfaction Increase.

Responsiveness also includes how your company handles complaints or feedback from customers. If a customer wants a refund or to return a product, you need to have a means of identifying the root cause of the problem. Is it buyer’s remorse, or is a problem inherent in the product, prompting a recall?

One or two complaints may indicate buyer’s remorse, but continued issues across multiple customers may allude to a product defect. As a result, the TMS automation can detect trends in customer service inquiries and help your company get ahead of the issue. Considering the importance of customer safety, this simple benefit could mean the difference between life and death for perishable products or those used to protect children.

If that does not peak your interest, consider the risks of shipping medications or medical equipment. If it does not arrive on time, it could cause a death. No one wants to have that on their conscious, but you can eliminate this fear, regardless of what you ship, by using TMS automation.

TMS Automation Takes the Guess Work out of Carrier Selection.

Depending on the size, weight, and volume of your shipment, you might have clear preferences for less-than-truckload (LTL) delivery or full-truckload (FT) shipping. Rather than leaving these decisions to old, paper-based flow charts, a TMS can automate the process and ensure your company uses the most cost-effective and successful carriers and modes. Furthermore, if a product would benefit more from intermodal shipping, that too can be automated, explains William B. Cassidy of the Journal of Commerce. However, it requires an immense amount of trust in the system, so your company should look for TMSs that adhere to the following standards:

  • Cloud-based deployment and maintenance.
  • Actionable analytics that runs continuously and feeds into improvements through Big Data.
  • Audit-proven systems to prevent billing inconsistencies and issues.
  • Easy integration with existing systems.
  • Scalability to meet growing demand and usage.

Sustainability Is the New Kid on the Block.

From public transportation to electronics, every company and organization is looking for ways to improve sustainability. On the surface, sustainability is about reducing a company’s carbon footprint and impact on the environment. But, it can be leveraged to improve a company’s public image and profit margins.

For example, sustainable practices may include using a TMS if the system provides a verifiable means of reducing the fuel costs associated with a business transaction. In other words, route optimization is a sustainable initiative, reports Nate Vickery of CircleID. While robotics in the supply chain might be among the top ways to achieve sustainability, your organization still needs to prevent waste. This is where a TMS can have additional benefits.

Modern TMSs can connect to the Internet of Things (IoT) to help society define and correct issues as they arise. In other words, the IoT can be leveraged to help with demand forecasts and fleet impact on the environment. Furthermore, automated sensors can be used to detect changes in exhaust levels on a vehicle that both pollute and contribute to a risk of vehicle failure. Essentially, the IoT and TMS work together to reduce the environmental and physical costs in your organization.

The Big Picture.

The shipping industry stands on the cusp of renewed automation goals through modern, dedicated TMS solutions, like the Cerasis Rater. By enhancing visibility and responsiveness throughout the supply chain, TMS automation will continue to increase efficiency and encourage more shippers to implement cloud-based TMS solutions.