What is a Transportation Management System TMS?

What is a Transportation Management System (TMS)?

The term ‘Transportation Management System’ or TMS has become more common in the supply chain industry as companies turn to technology to stay competitive in a changing marketplace. Technology has revolutionized everything from how we watch TV, to how we buy our groceries, and even how we meet each other. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that a key component of the American economy (the movement of goods, materials and other freight) would eventually turn to technology to keep pace. Transportation management systems are the logical next step. Now, companies of all sizes are researching transportation management systems to learn more about how technology can save them money, streamline logistics operations and improve customer satisfaction.

But What Exactly is A TMS?

Definition – According to Gartner, an analyst firm providing companies with insight, advice and tools to evaluate technology:

“A TMS (transportation management system) is used to plan freight movements, do freight rating and shopping across all modes, select the appropriate route and carrier, and manage freight bills and payments.”

Simply put, a TMS is a system that companies can use to digitally manage their freight operations instead of calling and emailing internal and external partners. Transportation management systems often sit between a company’s ERP system and a warehouse management system (WMS) and connect the two for increased supply chain efficiency. Orders flowing between these systems create continuity and speed up the time from customer order to final delivery.

At their core, most transportation management systems have rating, booking and tracking functionality. Others have advanced reporting and dashboards, freight pay and audit, and other modular features that can be added as needed. Transportation management systems come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are some of the potential benefits companies can gain by implementing a TMS:

  •      •     Save money and grow your bottom-line
  •      •     Save time and repurpose labor to value-added projects instead of “firefighting”
  •      •     Improve customer satisfaction
  •      •     Get insight into your operations to make strategic changes
  •      •     Grow your business!

Step-by-Step Guide on What You Need to Know About Transportation Management Systems (TMS)

Types of Transportation Management Software – Transportation management systems have been around since the 1980s, but they’ve come a long way from the clunky, monolithic machines of the past. Now there are many varieties which cater to companies from every industry and of any size. Some TMSs focus on small – to – medium-sized businesses (SMB) and only offer very basic functionality including rating and booking. Many TMSs that cater to a smaller market don’t offer customization or advanced features like reporting and analytics or integrations. Instead, they focus on being low total cost to own (TCO).

Other TMSs focus on the high end of the market and cater to enterprise-size companies. These TMSs often only have a few customers and their price-points make it nearly impossible for smaller companies to benefit from them. According to Adrian Gonzalez, President of Adelante SCM, “In the case of shippers, large enterprises (over $1 billion in revenues) were the early adopters of transportation management systems (TMS), due in large part to the high cost of buying and implementing on-premise applications (typically over $1 million).”

Kuebix IntegrationsEnterprise-class TMSs usually offer advanced functionality like integrations, freight pay and audit, order and route optimization, and many other features. Unfortunately, most of these legacy systems come as a complete (and pricey) set, leaving companies who don’t need certain features with a bill for technology they won’t use.

The solution to this is to find a TMS that will expand and contract along-side your business so that you always have the features you need and aren’t paying for the ones you don’t. Transportation management systems like Kuebix TMS are built to serve companies of all sizes and needs.

Kuebix Free Shipper was the industry’s first truly free TMS and has removed all barriers to entry to SMB customers looking for rating, booking and tracking functionality. Companies looking for financial management, advanced analytics and other premium features can upgrade to Kuebix Business Pro and Kuebix Enterprise and then seamlessly add additional features.

What’s the Difference Between Cloud-based / SaaS, and On-Premise TMS?

Besides being geared toward specific audiences, transportation management systems are housed and accessed in two different ways. The traditional way which many early adopters of transportation technology used was on-premise software.

On-premise software is installed and run directly on local computers. This requires a representative from the TMS provider to physically install the TMS “on-premise” at the user’s headquarters so that the company can gain access to it. This can cause difficulties whenever a problem arises or a new version needs to be updated, not to mention the customer’s inability to take their TMS on the road with them.

Cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) TMS are becoming strongly preferred over on-premise software. They are much more agile and easier to install, maintain, and upgrade, leading to a faster return on investment (ROI) and less hassle. With software that is housed on the “cloud” (online), users can access it from anywhere, even from mobile devices, and aren’t constrained to “the four walls” of their office building.

Most cloud-based transportation management systems are sold as software-as-a-service (SaaS). This means that users subscribe to the technology on a monthly or annual basis instead of purchasing the technology outright. Not only is this more cost-effective, it also means that users are always on the most recent version of the software.

What is the Core Functionality of a TMS?

As mentioned above, most transportation management systems provide these three core features:

  1. Rating
  2. Booking
  3. Tracking

This means that any logistics professional with a TMS can easily find rates for their customers’ orders and book those orders for delivery. Instead of needing to call individual carriers or visit each carrier’s website, the user can simply access the TMS to see all of their negotiated rates laid out side-by-side. Then they can quickly choose the rate with the best price and service level and book it directly through the system and track it through delivery.

Common TMS Upgrades

Though most TMSs provide the standard rating, booking and tracking, other more advanced TMSs also offer additional features. These can sometimes be added on in a modular fashion so that the user only pays for what they need, or may come as a package deal with the TMS. Here are some of the common capabilities of more advanced transportation management systems:

  •      •     Freight Pay and Audit – This feature helps companies automatically audit each carrier invoice. TMSs like Kuebix indicate which bills are within the predetermined threshold and can be paid and calls-out others which do not fall within the limit. This makes it much faster for financial teams to pay carriers and helps them avoid overpaying on accident.
  •      •     Order Integrations – An integration between the TMS and an ERP or a financial system like NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, or QuickBooks can vastly improve the speed and accuracy or booking. Order information flows directly from the ERP system and automatically populates within the TMS so that users never need to re-key information. This eliminated user-error which can lead to endless firefighting and incorrect deliveries.
  •      •     Order and Route Optimization – Some TMSs offer load and route consolidation and optimization through algorithms within their technology. The system can suggest the most efficient and cost-effective method of shipping a group of orders and the user can book the load quickly and easily.
  •      •     Reports and Dashboards – Analytics are a major draw for many companies interested in improving their logistics processes. Actionable reports and dashboards let users understand every detail of their freight spend and make strategic decisions on the basis of data. They can be used to evaluate carrier KPIs, total freight spend by item, and to provide insight to leadership.

Order and Route Optimization Infographic What is a Transportation Management System TMS?

How Can a TMS Save Me Money on Freight Spend?

Compare Rates: Transportation management systems let users automatically access all their negotiated carrier rates side-by-side for easy viewing and comparing. TMS users save time by no longer switching between individual carrier websites but instead have all their tariff information contained in one, user-friendly screen. Often, logistics professionals don’t have time to check the rate with every carrier, so inevitably end up missing out on quality rates. With a TMS users can choose the most attractive rate out of all their carriers for each shipment, saving them money on every load.

Pay Bills Correctly: Invoice audit is another way many companies use a TMS to save on total freight spend. Often, accidental or incorrect charges can be added to a shipment. Things like lift-gate fees and incorrect detention charges can increase the final amount on an invoice. These miscellaneous accessorial fees are easy to overlook when manually auditing invoices and are often even intentionally ignored because they waste too much time to rectify. These fees add up quickly, however, so having a system to automatically audit every carrier invoice can save huge amounts each year.

Understand Freight Spend: With a TMS that isn’t tied to a certain carrier or 3PL, users can access all of their rates side-by-side in an unbiased way. And with the addition or reports and analytics, users know exactly how well each carrier is performing on each lane. With this knowledge and understanding of the market rate, TMS users are positioned to negotiate for better rates and service levels with their partner carriers. This saves money overall and helps to improve relationships and customer service all at once.

Gain Visibility: Shippers leveraging a TMS like Kuebix also gain benefits from improved visibility to their supply chain operations.  All stakeholders can use the common platform to plan their moves, receive alerts to changes as they occur, see every status update made, and make real-time adjustments to keep the supply chain moving smoothly and the customer happy. By sharing a single common system, suppliers can plan inventory levels more effectively to offer better customer service. Carriers can move shipments in and out more efficiently, making their operations more cost effective and the customer can improve the management of their inbound operations and warehouse.

Optimization: For companies with large or complex supply chains, features like order and route optimization can also save significant money. This is because manually building the perfect load is a challenge, and more often than not too time-consuming to bother with. There are countless factors a logistics professional needs to take into consideration such as delivery date, location, class, weight and size. Weighing all of these factors without the help of technology usually results in missed opportunities and wasted resources. Instead of pouring through spreadsheets and manually grouping orders onto a single truck, Load Builders and Optimizers can be leveraged to help logistics teams build and optimize the perfect load every time to save significant money.

Click here to see how one company saved $2.2 million dollars in cost-avoidance within one year by leveraging a TMS!

Will a TMS Save Me Time?

Many people are concerned that a TMS won’t actually save them time because they’ve been doing their job for years and know how to do it like the back of their hand. While “tribal” knowledge and relationships gained over a career aren’t easily replaced, a TMS can speed up even the most seasoned logistics professional. Instead of managing an inbox and voicemail of hundreds of loads, every load and stop on a route is tracked in one place. Spreadsheets are no longer required to transfer order information back and forth and users can spend more of their valuable time working on strategic projects instead of troubleshooting errors.

From shippers with only a few loads a week to enterprises with hundreds of complex orders to sort through each day, leveraging technology can save countless hours. ERP integrations to automatically flow order information back and forth between systems not only improves accuracy but also makes the process of rating and booking much faster. Auditing and optimization features remove previously tedious processes and result in a faster speed from order to delivery. A few minutes saved per order adds up quickly no matter what size company is doing the shipping.

Inmod Furniture Case Study

Not all TMSs are created equal. Make sure to be aware of these common TMS challenges and if you’re thinking of implementing a TMS within your organization:

  •      •     Not every TMS supports all modes of transportation

What to ask: Ask the TMS provider what modes of transportation they do support and whether support is included in all of their purchase levels. Find out if they support full truckload (FTL), less-than-load (LTL), ground freight, air, intermodal, and ocean.

  •      •     The technology wasn’t built on the cloud

What to ask: Find out whether the technology is/ has always been housed on the cloud. If it hasn’t been, make sure that customer reviews reflect the provider’s ability to support a cloud-based technology. Many legacy transportation management systems have not had smooth transitions to a SaaS cloud-based model.

  •      •     Biased in favor of one carrier or 3PL

What to ask: Ask whether the technology is owned by a carrier or 3PL. If it is, determine whether you will be able to add all of your negotiated carrier rates to be viewed side-by-side in the technology. Many TMSs owned by a carrier or 3PL have preferred rates which could detract from your savings. Remember, a TMS should give you an agnostic way to find the best carrier rates.

  •      •     Bad customer reviews

What to ask: Ask to see some customer references before deciding on a TMS. If the TMS provider cannot show you any customer case studies or videos, that should be a red flag. Check out technology review sites like Capterra and Gartner Peer Insights for unbiased reviews from real customers.

So, what is a TMS?

A TMS is a tool that any size company can use to improve the efficiency of their shipping processes. TMSs like Kuebix TMS help companies capitalize on supply chain opportunities through visibility, control and the use of predictive analytics. And since Kuebix is built on the latest cloud technology, it can be implemented quickly so that any company can begin seeing rapid ROI.

Kuebix - Magic Quadrant for TMS

Kuebix Advances Position in 2019 Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems

It’s a known fact that technology is helping companies around the world speed up their supply chains. According to Gartner research*, “The challenges in transportation around scarce capacity, higher costs and more demanding customers are increasing the need for technology.”

Making the decision to implement any new piece of technology can be a large commitment though. That’s why it’s essential that companies thoroughly understand the different transportation management system (TMS) options before they commit to what could be a lengthy and expensive implementation process if they don’t choose wisely.

Luckily, Gartner, Inc. provides the unbiased insight into the TMS marketplace that business leaders need. Each year, Gartner releases the Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems*. This analysis covers all major players in the TMS marketplace and highlights their varying strengths and cautions. Some TMS’s positively advance their position and others descend.

Kuebix is proud to have advanced its position in this year’s Magic Quadrant for TMS and be recognized for its ability to execute.

“Over 16,000 companies have joined the Kuebix shipping community, recognizing that we are providing an easy to use, fast-to-implement, enterprise-class TMS that delivers the lowest total cost of ownership in the industry,” commented Dan Clark, Kuebix Founder and President. “We believe that Kuebix’s advancement in the 2019 Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems is due to our unprecedented market growth, product innovation, and commitment to the success of each and every one of our customers.”

Shippers in any industry with freight to ship can leverage Gartner’s research to help them determine which TMS will provide them the best tools and service to improve their supply chains. They can also view first-hand reviews by real customers on Gartner Peer Insights. Read reviews about Kuebix such as “Core product exceeded expectations as did integration team” and “Implementation was very collaborative and they presented real solutions.”

To learn more about today’s TMS marketplace, download a complimentary copy of the 2019 Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems.

*Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems, Bart De Muynck, Brock Johns, Oscar Sanchez Duran, 27 March 2019

Gartner Disclaimer

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

ELD Mandate Kuebix

5 Ways the ELD Mandate Has Changed the Supply Chain for the Better

The “U.S. federal government regulation specifying that operators of commercial motor vehicles covered by this law will be required to use electronic logging devices, or ELDs” was first announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in December 2015 and the first deadline to comply was in December 2017“. Since then, the ELD Mandate has sparked conversation through businesses worldwide as they adapt to this change and debate whether or not it’s best for their supply chain. On the pro-ELD side of the debate, here are 5 ways some supply chains have reported benefits since the ELD Mandate went into effect.

Increased Accuracy

Before ELDs, records of service were kept in a logbook. This simple pen-and-paper method cannot guarantee accurate information because it leaves room for miscommunication. With ELDs, the information truckers enter into the system can instantly be sent to a recordkeeping facility or database or immediately become available to the Department of Transportation Authorities. This new and improved process protects the authenticity of the information being entered into the system and allows mistakes or miscalculations to be caught much quicker.

More Information

Management that has their fleets using full-service ELD routes now have a significantly larger amount of information on their fleet operations than they did with the traditional logbook. This new insight gives them more information on how well their operations are running and what they could do better. They have a much easier time planning maintenance for vehicles and appropriately scheduling and staffing. Carriers will also have a better idea of how traffic is affecting their routes and what they could do differently next time to avoid disruptions along with how their gas is being used and how to allocate trucks more efficiently.

Downtime for Drivers

With traditional logbooks, there were a lot of tricks available to be able to cut breaks shorter. ELDs eliminate this possibility and ensure that drivers are getting the required amount of rest between routes. Drivers who are tired are vulnerable to car accidents. Ensuring that they are recording their hours through an ELD helps protect drivers from finding themselves in these situations and makes the roads safer for everyone who drives.

Easier IFTA Calculation

Fleets are required to file IFTA reports at the end of every quarter. This process can be time-consuming and daunting for those working in administrative departments. ELDs solve this problem by automating the calculation process. This saves thousands of dollars by relieving some of the administrative pressure and operational cost. IFTA reports automated by ELDs also eliminate the possibility of inconsistencies or errors, drastically improving the accuracy and ease of the reports altogether.

Higher Profits

ELDs directly result in much higher profits through better route management, increased accuracy in time logs, unparalleled vehicle monitoring, automated IFTA reports, and a reduction in fuel waste. These all contribute to the notoriously high price of supply chains.  Although separately these aspects may seem like minor pieces of the larger supply chain puzzle, a reduction in the cost and increase in efficiency of each of these leads to an overall increase in profits for businesses.

breaking down tms transportation management system jargon kuebix

Breaking Down Transportation Management System (TMS) Jargon

There is a lot of jargon associated with transportation management systems (TMS) that many people find hard to navigate at first. You may never have come across some terms if you don’t have a history of working with TMSs or other forms of tech. The saying “it’s all Greek to me!” might spring to mind.

If you find yourself lost in TMS jargon, take a look at this list of some of the most common phrases and terms used when talking about transportation management systems.

Transportation Management System (TMS)

This one might seem obvious, but actually understanding what a TMS does is crucial before you can understand how the other terms relate. A TMS is a collection of tools housed under a single umbrella technology that help supply chain professionals manage transportation operations. These systems usually sit in between ordering systems (ERPs) and warehouse management systems (WMS) and help streamline rating, booking, and visibility to orders, among other things.

Integration

The term Integration in regards to a TMS means to digitally connect the TMS with another, external system. Intuitively, an integration is a pairing or merging of two entities, ie two pieces of software. Common integrations to a TMS include ERP integrations, API integrations and e-Commerce integrations. Information flows between the TMS and the external system that is integrated.

Software as a Service

Software as a Service, more commonly known as SaaS, is a method of delivering software to users. The software is accessed via a subscription model as opposed to being paid for and owned by the end-customer. This makes implementation, managing issues and getting updates much easier.

Cloud-based

This term is used to refer to a piece of software that was built to be accessed from the internet or “cloud.” Cloud-based applications or services are available on demand via a provider’s cloud computing servers. Cloud-based TMSs are becoming more common as supply chain professionals increasingly need to access their systems remotely.

On-premise

On-premise is the opposite of cloud-based software. Instead of the software being housed online, the software is installed and runs on local computers. This was the first method of selling software and has become an outdated model as the benefits of cloud-based software become even more apparent. On-premise TMSs are becoming obsolete as cloud-based ones are implemented quicker, return faster ROI, and are generally easier to manage.

Managed Services

Transportation-related managed services are programs provided to companies wishing to partially or fully outsource management of their logistics operations. Some companies choose to outsource certain processes to experts to gain efficiencies and dedicate more time to other areas of their business. These programs are often run in tandem with transportation management systems.

Logistics Community

A logistics community is a collaborative group of shippers and carriers around the world. Members of the community benefit from opportunities to collaborate and community-specific functions like truckload spot markets. Communities can be built around a TMS and foster an environment where freight savings and efficiencies can be gained.

Optimization

When someone talks about optimization and TMS together, they are usually talking about load and route optimization capabilities. Advanced TMSs offer optimization tools to their users to build perfect loads based on a variety of parameters. Instead of manually pouring over spreadsheets, TMS users with Optimization functionality can automatically build consolidated loads and route them efficiently.

compare freight rates kuebix

Why You Should Be Comparing Your Full Truckload (FTL) & Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) Freight Rates

Logistics professionals have their work cut out for them just to get their freight to the customer on time without the added pressure to shop around to find the best deal. At least, that’s the case for folks who are still managing their freight operations in the old-fashioned way, with phone calls to carriers and spreadsheets to track loads. Companies that have already turned to transportation technology to help them optimize their supply chains can easily compare freight rates without wasting extra time.

Technology lets companies automatically pull in all their negotiated carrier rates side by side for easy viewing and comparing. Instead of needing to switch between vendor portals, logistics professionals have all their tariff information contained in one, user-friendly location. This means that they can choose the most attractive rate at the service level they need for every shipment.

Why Should You Compare Your Freight Rates?

Many shippers have carriers that they partner with over and over again, and those relationships can be crucial for the success of the delivery. But if you never get a feel for the market price on a particular lane, you could be vastly overpaying. By comparing rates, you can go back to your carriers to negotiate better terms. You may also discover cheaper capacity is available, helping you save money on total freight spend if you alter your processes for certain lanes.

By shopping around for different freight rates, you could also discover opportunities to deliver faster to your customers. Trends like the “Amazon Effect” are increasing customer expectations, namely the speed at which they can expect their deliveries. Even if you don’t discover freight savings when you shop around, you may discover ways to improve your customer satisfaction.

Another reason to constantly be comparing your freight rates is that prices are continuously changing. Diesel prices fluctuate, the driver shortage and capacity crunch alter carriers’ ability to service their customer base, and competition for capacity grows worse. What may have been the best price one day could suddenly be outperformed by another rate the next. Instead of doing a monthly or quarterly audit of tariffs, companies should be comparing their freight rates each and every time.

Comparing freight rates also allows logistics professionals to determine what mode they want to ship their product. This is particularly important for orders that could be either a parcel shipment of an LTL load. Many people wouldn’t consider shipping what they assumed to be an LTL load as a parcel shipment, or vice versa, though there could be significant savings. By using technology to display multiple mode options all on one screen, companies can be sure to pick the best price, no matter what mode is selected.

Using Technology to Rate Shop

Technology is the answer to this problem for most shippers. By leveraging a transportation management system like Kuebix TMS, companies can quickly view all their options and select the best one. This is like booking a flight online were each and every price and timeline is viewable. At Kuebix, we believe that logistics should be just as easy as booking a flight online. And by comparing multiple modes side by side, users get even more opportunities to save money and provide superior service to their customers.

kuebix 10 reasons to get a tms

10 Reasons Every Shipper Should Get a Transportation Management System (TMS)

Transportation management systems (TMS) are becoming more widely adopted throughout the industry as these systems become cheaper (or free like Kuebix Free Shipper) and easier to use and implement. But some companies are still on the fence about whether to manage their logistics operations the old-fashioned way with phone calls and spreadsheets or to leverage technology to help streamline the process.

According to Bart De Muynck, Gartner’s research vice president, transportation technology, “Last year was a great year for TMS. In fact, in 2018 we saw investments go up across the entire supply chain technology spectrum.”

Companies are implementing TMSs at record numbers to achieve many different benefits. Here are 10 ways getting a TMS can help your business:

Everything in one place

By using a TMS, companies can manage their entire transportation operations all from a single place. This means they can rate, book, track and interact with their orders no matter whether they’re full truckload, LTL, parcel, air, intermodal or ocean. It also means that they don’t need to bounce between different carrier websites to rate shop.

Lower freight costs

Transportation management systems almost always help to lower overall freight costs for companies. By being able to rate shop within a single screen, logistics professionals can choose the least expensive option at the service type they need every time. It also means that companies have easier access to more carriers, creating beneficial competition and providing more options.

Reduce manual entry

With a TMS, especially one that is integrated with an ERP or ordering system, manual entry is greatly reduced. Information like PRO numbers, pallet weights, and destinations can be automatically populated to reduce human error. And instead of making notes on stickies or disjointed spreadsheets, all the order and route information is in one place, meaning reliable information can be transferred between stakeholders.

Optimize routing and load consolidation

With many TMS systems, you can build more efficient loads and routes with the help of an optimizer. Optimization tools allow the user to specify different parameters for the load and then suggest or even build the optimal load and route for easy tendering. Users can even view the route on a map to have a visual of where the order is planned so that they can make changes as necessary.

Get meaningful analytics

Since all of a company’s logistics information will pass through the TMS, that data can be transformed into actionable reports and dashboards. With a TMS companies can see freight cost per item right down to the SKU level to make strategic changes that impact their bottom line. They can also see things like carrier KPIs, real-time tracking data and vendor scorecards. These reports and dashboards help logistics professionals stay on top of key metrics affecting their company’s profits.

Gain visibility

With real-time tracking and analytics, you can provide your customers with the visibility to their orders that they expect. You can even add features like Dock Scheduler, RFID and ELD integrations, and Gate Check to make it easy to tell exactly where each truck is on the route.

Make paperwork easier

Transportation management systems make the little paperwork that is still necessary way easier. BOLs, PODs and other paperwork can be printed directly out of the system to make processing easy, efficient, and most importantly correct every time. This not only puts time back into the day, but it also speeds up pickup/drop-off times when drivers have accurate information with them.

Scalability

With a TMS, a company is free to grow or change their business without having to worry about how they will handle their transportation operations. When new facilities or more products are added to the business, the TMS will scale right along-side it. TMSs with modular features offer companies extra customizability. For example, if the company begins to sell products online, they can add an e-commerce integration to improve shipping options for their customers.

Meet rising customer expectations

Speaking of e-commerce, the growth in popularity of online shopping is changing customer expectations and making shipping more difficult for supply chains. Companies need to get orders to their destinations faster, cheaper, and with complete visibility. With a TMS, all three of these things are made possible and companies can provide exceptional customer service while meeting rising customer expectations.

Integrate external processes

Another benefit many companies take advantage of once they implement a TMS is to integrate it with their other systems. As mentioned above, some choose to integrate with their e-commerce platforms or their ERP and ordering systems. These and other integrations help to smooth processes across different teams and departments to help keep the flow of information clean and consistent, not to mention speed up the entire operation and improve overall visibility.

All-in-all, there are plenty of reasons a company should consider implementing a TMS to manage its transportation operations. These span from cost to time savings and improve data accuracy and visibility. As put by Logistics Management in their 2019 Transportation Management Systems (TMS) Market Update, “As the true workhorses of the supply chain management software cluster, transportation management systems (TMS) have become the “must have” for companies that—working under the pressures of e-commerce and omni-channel—need to move beyond clipboards, spreadsheets, and phone calls to manage their increasingly sophisticated transportation networks.”

load builder optimizer kuebix

Building and Optimizing Truckload Shipments with Technology

There’s increased pressure on logistics teams to build perfect truckloads and optimize every route. Freight costs are rising due to the capacity crunch and rising consumer expectations, so cutting freight costs is top of mind for many companies this year. But building the perfect truckload is a challenge for companies that are still manually building and routing their truckload with only the help of a spreadsheet and tribal knowledge.

There are countless factors to take into consideration such as delivery date, location, class, weight and size. Weighing all of these factors without the help of technology usually results in missed opportunities and wasted resources. Instead of pouring through spreadsheets and manually grouping orders onto a single truck, companies can leverage technology to build and optimize the perfect load every time.

Smart algorithms suggest combinations which make sense, save time and help companies achieve the lowest possible costs for their shipments, all while still adhering to pre-determined parameters. Users set the parameters for the truck they want to build, adding in LTL constraints, specifying single stop, pickup and delivery date, maximum capacity, or unit of measure, etc. This ensures that logistics teams still have the flexibility to make changes based on customer requests and other unknown factors.

When load building and optimization technology is built directly into a transportation management system (TMS), the router or scheduler can view all unscheduled orders in an intuitive portal before seamlessly routing the shipment. They can filter by route, warehouse, order type, commodity group, date for delivery, account, order source or even pooling location to build a load with the parameters of their choosing.

Technology like Kuebix’s Load Builder and Optimizer is helping companies move away from manual processes and ensure they are always building the most optimized truckloads. Users can view routes on an interactive map, consolidate shipments with easy drag and drop features, and get alerts if any pre-determined parameters aren’t met. Users save time by comparing the most cost-effective and optimized loads and routes and can easily manage first mile, final mile and pool distribution shipments.

With load building and route optimizing technology, companies gain complete control overload consolidation and optimization. They never miss an opportunity to save money and can plan loads and routes with transparency in an organized way. With pricing analytics at their fingertips, logistics teams can even compare pre-consolidation and post-consolidation costs to see exactly how much money is being saved.

How Breaking Away from a 3PL Helped One Company Save 30% on their Freight Spend

Hyperline Cabling Systems, a company continuously striving to remain ahead of the curve, was dissatisfied with their third-party logistics provider (3PL) and recognized the need to regain control of their logistics operations by implementing a transportation management system (TMS).

In May of 2017, Hyperline made the switch to Kuebix TMS, making the Kuebix technology their logistics system of choice for their national distribution center in Buford, GA. Since implementation, Hyperline has been able to take control of their own supply chain and benefit from tremendous savings, increased flexibility and visibility, saving about 30% on their freight spend.

Hear what Otis Johnson, Warehouse Manager at Hyperline, has to say in the video below:

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Why A Free TMS is A Really Good Thing

Some people have questioned why Kuebix is offering a free TMS and whether the free version is worth their while. The answer is a resounding, “Yes, a free TMS is really a good thing!”

When comparing apples to apples, i.e. free TMS to free TMS, it is apparent that Kuebix Shipper wins over others. Even when comparing apples to oranges, i.e. free TMS to “not free” TMS, Kuebix outshines the competition. Here’s why:

  1. Excellent Customer Service – but don’t take our word for it: “With Kuebix, we can quickly view all our carrier rates side by side and choose the best rate for our shipments. Kuebix is extremely easy to use and the customer support is exceptional.” R.L. Bunting at Chesapeake Spice
  2. UNLIMITED Shipments – Yes, you read that correctly. Some of our competition limits their shipments on paid versions and keep charging you more as your volume increases, but we don’t. Why would you pay when Kuebix has unlimited shipments for free?
  3. Supports All Transportation Modes – Some TMS vendors limit their offering to LTL shipments only. Kuebix, on the other hand, supports all modes – LTL, TL and Parcel – (even with our free version) so you can connect to all your carriers, letting you ship the way you want for the optimal cost.
  4. Multiple Users, Stored Data and So Much More – Kuebix Shipper is a single-user system, allowing any shipper to begin using the core functionality of a TMS – rate, book and track – for free. For business that want to add more users, access shipment data, and so much more, simply upgrade to Kuebix Business Pro for just $99/month.
  5. Scalability – Kuebix Shipper can be scaled up to our enterprise edition as your business grows. The Kuebix TMS uses the same software core – and as your business grows, you can easily add new functionality, without having to learn a whole new system. Our modular solution scales all the way up to the enterprise level with Premier Applications, Integrations and Managed Services to meet the needs of any supply chain.

Most importantly, the free TMS supports our vision, of a global community where all members gain value from membership. We have removed the barrier of cost to let all shippers get started with a powerful TMS and take control of their freight operations. This is similar to how the widespread adoption of affordable smart phones changed the way we communicate and interact. A TMS that is available to any size business and budget will have the same impact on the shipping world, moving it into the collaborative digital era.

A global community of shippers and service providers will help to match demand with capacity, allowing trucks to fill more efficiently.With collaboration across the community, fleets and drivers move more continuously, shippers get faster access to available capacity, and load consolidation becomes something that’s easy to accomplish.  All of this improves the bottom line – giving value to everyone in the community.

Now that is worth its weight in gold, even if it doesn’t cost you a thing.

How a TMS will Benefit Any Size Business

A Transportation Management System (TMS) helps companies move freight from point of origin to final destination in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. According to Inbound Logistics magazine, “most Tier 1 shippers – those that spend $100 million+ annually on freight – already use TMS solutions.” These companies say that a TMS contributes to critical business drivers, such as complexity, scale, customer experience and freight cost savings.*

Smaller firms still use manual approaches to manage their freight, relying on in-house expertise using spreadsheets, fax, phone and email, often resulting in excess admin time, errors and duplicated efforts.

However, with globalization and the growth of e-commerce opening up new markets and reaching customers around the world, the time has come for smaller firms to take advantage of TMS solutions that can bring better customer service, lower freight spend, improve performance and more.

To get up and running quickly, small to medium-sized businesses can adopt cloud-based TMS solutions – getting rates, booking and tracking shipments and communicating with carriers and shippers in real-time – all on a single platform. Because of the cloud, these systems offer a much lower total cost of ownership, are simpler to implement and require no internal IT support.

Using a TMS, compared to manual approaches, can help your business to:

• Optimize and consolidate shipments

• Improve service levels, giving customers a great first impression

Save on freight costs

• Lower admin costs and reduce errors

• Access a large carrier pool

• Address all shipping options and modes, all on one platform

• Monitor shipments in real-time

• Quickly evaluate carrier performance through historical reports

• Increase visibility into what is happening within your transport operations

• Communicate shipment status to customers

• Get much-needed carrier capacity in a tightened market

What if you need more functionality? Choose a TMS that is flexible enough to grow as your business grows, allowing you to add features in a modular fashion as needed. Kuebix TMS lets you begin rating, booking and managing your LTL, TL, parcel, rail, ocean and air freight in minutes. For more complex supply chains, Kuebix can be configured with Premier Applications and Integrations to meet the needs of even the largest enterprise.

Check out our free Kuebix Shipper TMS for unlimited rating, calculating freight cost, booking and tracking or sign up for a 14-day Trial of the Kuebix Business Pro TMS.

 

*Primary Research in Evaluating the Business Case and Approval Process for Supply Chain Execution Systems Acquisition – Jim Hendrickson, Professor, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University.

Dawn of a new shipping era

The Freight Industry Just Changed!

I’m beyond excited to tell you that today, Kuebix has announced Kuebix Shipper, the first free, multimodal transportation management system (TMS), allowing shippers unlimited rating, booking and tracking of LTL, TL and parcel freight.

Kuebix Shipper

This is big news for the industry because the evolution of freight is upon us – and it all begins with an intelligent TMS. We at Kuebix believe all shippers should have the ability to rate, book and track freight directly with their carriers for free, the same way you can rate, book and track flights in minutes on Internet travel sites.

Kuebix Shipper ushers in a new world of freight shipping for all

Kuebix Shipper is a free, cloud-based TMS that provides businesses invaluable freight intelligence to quickly reduce their shipping costs and regain time being wasted chasing carriers every day for rating and tracking information.

To jump-start this evolution, Kuebix is empowering the shipper by democratizing basic transportation management through the free Kuebix Shipper TMS.

Follow us – and the news – on social media at #freetheshipper.

Freight Efficiencies, Savings Await

We estimate that companies spend 4-5% of their budget on freight, and they’re wasting 10-20% of that amount. Cutting the waste provides a great ROI for a free TMS.

Kuebix Shipper, a powerful free TMS, brings control and visibility to all

The free Kuebix Shipper TMS enabes all to go beyond paper processes and outsourcers to realize efficiencies and savings

Now, shippers of all sizes can get the power of a TMS that was only available to larger enterprises in the past. The free TMS enables logistics managers to get up and running in minutes with direct access to their negotiated carrier rates and the ability to take advantage of the vibrant community of carriers offering spot/volume quotes for specific shipping needs.

Gain Freight Control, Visibility

Kuebix Shipper returns the power to the shipper, providing every business a long-awaited alternative to outsourcing business-critical functions to third-party logistics service providers or using resource-intensive manual processes.

Kuebix Shipper the Free TMS for All

Kuebix Shipper makes it easier and free to rate, book and track freight.

Think Smartphone Evolution

Think of the evolution of the TMS as akin to the rise of the smartphone. Just like how widespread adoption of affordable smartphones changed the way we communicate and interact, a TMS that is available to all businesses and all budgets will have the same impact on the shipping community.

As your smartphone has been the tool moving us into this collaborative digital era, the TMS will be that tool for the shipping world.

Opportunities for freight efficiencies resulting in savings can be realized by all

Come aboard Kuebix Shipper now and let the efficiencies and savings begin!

 

 

TMS Options Proliferate, But Not for All

This is the second in a three-part series that tracks the evolution of the TMS from the late 1990s to today. In last week’s piece I discussed the emergence of the TMS. Next week I’ll discuss the future.

When we last left transportation management systems (TMS), the high price and staff requirements of the early systems had created two groups of freight shippers, the haves, which could afford the high expense of on-prem big-box systems, and a far larger group of have-nots.

The needs of shippers struggling to replace manual processes with automation, drove widespread developments of new products, services and third parties. Most of these used different approaches for addressing the huge need for efficiency in supply chains. Meanwhile, the maturity of cloud computing was driving changes across industries and was just beginning to gain traction in logistics.

The lineup of options for shippers looking to improve their logistics operations included on-site system vendors, services from 3rd party logistics providers, and a shallow pool of companies looking to leverage the software-as-as-service model and approach to locating system intelligence.

Word from Above

But what lead to cold sweats for shippers was all the best practice and success stories that the tech trades and even the business media were running. They featured pioneering companies that had implemented a solution to cure their shipping ills and were said to be on the leading edge of technology use for business gain.

That started the deluge of direct questions from C-level executives.

Are we checking out TMSs? Is this something for us? Can we save money? Why haven’t we done this? C-level execs started believing that their companies could quickly turn their freight shipping into a profit center from a cost center.

It didn’t matter that the price for a TMS was too high or that many of the options covered one aspect of shipping but not many others.

TMS Affordability?

You’d think for sure that a growing group of TMS options would benefit all shippers desperately seeking freight intelligence. The reality was that TMSs were still not accessible to most businesses in the U.S. The have-nots could find affordable freight handling options, but that meant paying a third party to handle their freight shipping function.

For most, price as in the TCO, was the single largest impediment to implementing a system that would enable logistics professionals to truly manage their freight transportation. Isn’t it ironic that the sticker price of TMS options and alternative is what was keeping the have-nots from cutting costs and generating new revenue?

Clear Forecast

With the maturity of the cloud, it became clear that locating a TMS software product on a platform in the network  and sold as-a-(monthly)-service would break down the many barriers to implementation that so many businesses of all sizes were up against.

This opportunity sure got the attention of shippers who had all but given up on an on-site TMS and wanted something that was both flexible in architecture and easier to cost justify to their bosses.

An Easier Sell

Many enterprise freight shippers moved from controlled freight chaos to the cloud and found that advances in platform technology and automation from TMS software made for easier installation and a faster return on investment.

But while a growing mass of businesses were putting cloud-based TMSs to the test – and turning a cost center to a profit center, SMBs, which I believe make up over 90% of all U.S. businesses, still couldn’t justify a TMS spend. Some outsourced their operations to 3PLs. Others were stuck with their inefficient status quo.

Believe me, whether you’re a kid or a shipping professional nothing’s worse than watching someone else get, enjoy (and profit from), something great that you can’t have.

In the final installment of this three-part series, I’ll explain how important changes in the evolution of the TMS will define the future of freight shipping. Thanks for staying tuned!

 

 

 

 

Logistics to Avoid the Toys R Us Trauma

For those not in the shipping business, news that Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy protection had the same effect as a surprise Gatorade bath. For the rest of with experience in the logistics business, this was just the latest stark reminder of the long-running battle between retailers and online sellers.

It’s next to impossible to drive in urban and suburban areas without noticing the telltale signs of the ongoing struggle. Empty storefronts and going-out-of-business sale banners have been popping up in some of the strip plazas and malls I drive by on a regular basis.

Still, the Toys R Us news comes just a few months before yearend holiday shopping begins in earnest. Many of the company’s woes are connected to it carrying billions in debt and spending hundreds of millions annually to service it. But another part of its predicament seems to be supply chain related.

In an extensive piece chronicling the company’s challenges in the Wall Street Journal , Toys R Us CEO Chief David Brandon was quoted as saying in court papers that the firm had fallen behind some competitors and cited “our inability to provide expedited shipping options, and our lack of a subscription-based delivery service.”

Logistics intelligence can play a vital role in helping retailers survive in these tough times, and thrive. A flexible supply chain, powered by a solid transportation management system (TMS) can definitely be part of the solution for retailers looking to better compete with e-commerce companies for customers.

I’ve seen plenty in working extensively in the retail and ecommerce industries. I’ve been asked the following question countless times over the many years since ecommerce began.

How can a TMS help retailers?

-Implement technology to help support business functions. The right TMS can help streamline the retailer’s supply chain. Logistics managers need visibility into their operations as well as the control to manage them in a way that knocks out inefficiencies, cuts costs and provides revenue opportunities.

-Less product in pipeline. Once they have control and management of their transportation systems, retailers can adjust them so that they keep less product in the supply chain, which incurs reduces freight cost. The opposite – keeping more coming, is also a benefit as predictable peak demand periods approach.

-Improve the customer experience. How many times have we heard a sales associate tell us “we don’t have any more in the back room and I don’t know when the next truck shipment is coming in?” The right TMS can allow the retailer to take control of their inbound freight by providing visibility to all deliveries, ensuring on-time deliveries and reduced freight costs.

Quicker delivery. E-commerce companies have earned props for quickly delivering product, and rightly so. But two can play that game. By using a TMS to shorten their delivery intervals, retailers can make sure they have enough stock on hand.

Optimize your supply chain. For this, you need a TMS with a global logistics community, which is essentially a real-time, online members-only network that connects all these parties online so they can collaborate across supply chains to find the best (sometimes fastest) and least expensive means to get cargo from origination to destination and from destination to consumers.

The Road Ahead

Investing in technology to enhance and evolve the way you do business is the way to drive your company forward from a logistics standpoint. There are TMS options that don’t require a big spend on hardware and staff, or a long, drawn out implementation. You need a quick ROI as well as a system that gives you control, visibility and cost savings ASAP.

It’s well worth your time to check out a TMS built with the freight intelligence necessary to advance in the toughest of times. Think about that the next time you’re driving past a shopping plaza and see the sad signs.

 

Technologies to Tackle the Driver Shortage

When you consider that the average age of a trucker is 56, you realize it’s high time to up efforts to recruit and retain younger drivers to address the driver shortage and ensure a future for this profession.

So how do we find younger, mechanically-savvy recruits? What would make millennials want to drive a truck for a living? The answer to the driver shortage is to hit young age groups where they live – which is online or on their phones. The bait on the hook would be technology, with the use of mobile and virtual reality front and center.

After all, when was the last time you were out and about where you couldn’t see at least one person on their smartphone?

Going Mobile

Mobile technology makes great sense as a recruiting tool from the shipping industry side as it’s used for so many aspects of transportation management and logistics be it fleet and order tracking, route optimization, or backhaul opportunity matching. All apply to the legions of individual truckers, where mobile can be a lifeline.

Truck owner/operators have a growing field of mobile tech options for making the best use and the most money at the least cost. Just look at Trucker Tools, which offers a single smartphone app to handle all the function previously only affordable by large corporations with sizable fleets of trucks. And it’s free.

The long list of things truckers can do with the Trucker Tools smartphone app is: find the nearest truck stop, get real-time diesel prices, and find the fastest truck route to your destination and more. The app’s Load Track feature enable truckers to receive automated pickup and delivery confirmations. Other features help drivers find medical aid, vehicle sales and service locations, collision repair joints and even Walmarts.

This is what one of their trucker users – Mike Huber – said of the mobile phone app: “It’s a great idea. It’s super easy to use, with a down-to-earth approach.”

Virtual Reality

Now what if you took one of the hottest consumer technologies out there – virtual reality (VR) technology – and match it with the young age groups that were first to embrace it for gaming – but use it for training and education? It adds a whole new dimension and fun to book learning.

I’m certainly not the first to think of this, but it’s clearly being acted on.

Think of the potential for success here. Beyond enhancing online gaming, VR has captured the collective imagination of sports businesses, marketers, the tourism industry and more. Pro QBs use VR systems (a headset, smartphone and app) to get speed their training by getting extra reps without even touching a football field.

Trucker wannabes could be presented with a 3D scenario in which he or she is graded based on decisions. Do-over are quick and fun, when you don’t have to stay after, or re-study to re-take a test. VR has already been used along with gaming for training in the military.

Young age groups have grown up with VR for gaming, likely logging more hours online than some truckers spend on the road! This is why VR could be a great tool in the larger process of attracting and creating truckers using the tech that’s part of their lives.

The Road Ahead

It’s clear as day that technology is the key to addressing the driver shortage.  Mobile and VR play starring roles in intensifying efforts to recruit drivers from young age groups.  These are by no means the only ways to meet the challenge. So, stay tuned; we’ll be hitting this issue again.

Technology is bringing new visibility and efficiencies across the supply chain as well. Try Kuebix Free LTL Freight Rate Calculator or take a minute and learn more about Kuebix TMS

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