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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.

Kuebix Automotive Industry Trends

5 Ways Technology is Changing the Automotive Industry

Technology is changing the automotive industry faster than anyone could have predicted. The driver shortage, capacity crisis, price of fuel, and many other factors are putting pressure on companies to innovate and begin commercializing futuristic technologies. Some of these technological trends are already disrupting the automotive industry. Here are a five ways technology is already beginning to shape this industry.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The concept of the IoT has been around for several years now, and many of us have become accustomed to the idea. The IoT involves “everything being connected to everything.” Imagine your smartwatch knowing when you’ve risen from bed and immediately telling your coffee pot to start brewing. This concept is shaping our everyday lives. These are three uses of the IoT for the automotive industry:

•      Usage Based Insurance (UBI)

•      Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

•      In-Vehicle Health Monitoring

These three technologies involve connecting cars and trucks to the cloud to gather big data about their state-of-being and actions. Devices within vehicles can collect information on driving times, the health of the vehicle and safety of operations. Usage Based Insurance, also known as automotive telematics insurance, monitor vehicle use to more accurately assess risk. Factors that can be monitored include miles driven, driver behavior, and vehicle type.

Similarly, electronic logging devices are now in widespread use following the 2017 ELD Mandate enforcing the federal Hours-of-Service (HoS) regulation. With onboard computers, truckers’ time driven is monitored to ensure they are complying with the law.

Automotive biometric identification systems are being developed to help companies and individuals monitor the health of drivers. Expected to be commercialized by 2025, technologies to monitor heart rates, fatigue, and distracted driving are being developed. These technologies could go a long way to preventing accidents on the road, as well as improve insurance premiums.

Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X)

Technology to connect vehicles with each other, the cloud, and any other obstacle on the road is being developed. Connecting Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) is the passing of information back and forth between the vehicle and an entity on the road. This could be a traffic light, crosswalk, or detour sign. Other forms of this technology include connecting Vehicle-to-Cloud (V2C), Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P) and Vehicle-to-Grid) among others. These technologies are expected to improve safety on the road as well as driving efficiency.

One branch of this technology that is expected to hit the road long before V2X is perfected is a technology called Driver Assisted Truck Platooning (DATP). This technology is designed to relieve the strain of the driver shortage by enabling one driver to “drive” several vehicles in parade formation at once. The driver would simply operate a single truck at the head of the “platoon” and one or more similar trucks would connect with the lead truck to follow along behind autonomously. This has the potential to reduce carbon emissions as well as save costs as driver wages continue to rise.

Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous Vehicles, known colloquially as self-driving cars, are expected to be seen on the roads in 2020, with many of the largest names in the automotive industry competing to be the first to commercialize the technology. There’s no doubt that the autonomous vehicle revolution will transform our lives. The benefits seem endless, increased safety, lower fuel emissions and more productive time for people being transported on the vehicle.

Autonomous cars and trucks will be made possible by Artificial Intelligence (AI), an area of computer science working to create machines which can react and interact with humans and other unknown factors. Self-driving cars can’t only react to speed limits and pre-determined conditions on the road, they will need to account for things like pedestrians, fallen trees, and weather conditions. Right now, most tests of self-driving cars are being conducted in areas without harsh weather or pedestrians.

By 2040, it’s estimated that the autonomous vehicle industry will be a $3.6 trillion opportunity. Producers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of cars and trucks will face steep competition amongst themselves to carve out a place in the new industry. For those companies that succeed in getting a foothold in the autonomous vehicle market, this trend is likely to be a gold mine.

Electrification

Though it may come as a surprise, the first successful electric vehicle in the United States hit the road in 1890 in Des Moines, Iowa. Of course, the vehicle didn’t hold as much potential as fossil fuel vehicles and wasn’t widely adopted by the public. Not until the late 1990’s did electric vehicles make a come-back with the mass-production of the Toyota Prius.

Two decades later, electric vehicles are becoming more and more common. Some are hybrid models, capable of using traditional fuel sources and electricity while some are solely reliant on electricity. These plug-in electric vehicles reduce carbon emissions and can save the operator money. With an increasingly environmentally conscious customer base, electric cars are likely to continue to grow in popularity.

Wind and solar farms are making electric vehicles more sustainable, and once purchased, more economical. It will be up to manufacturers to make sure that their products’ initial cost doesn’t diminish expected ROI. Creating lasting vehicles that can deliver cost savings through reduced fuel consumption will make companies and individuals more likely to adopt the new technology.

Optimization

The final trend poised to revolutionize the automotive industry is Optimization. By leveraging big data collected from tracking devices and analyzed by intelligent software, companies are able to view and automatically consolidate their routes like never before. Optimizing routes and consolidating goods being transported will lead to reduced miles driven and more money saved. It will also have a direct impact on the capacity crisis as assets are more fully utilized.

Using technology, a taxi company with a fleet of passenger cars can plan the most direct routes between patrons and anticipate peak hours ahead of time. Fleet owners can combine shipments being delivered to the same location in order to remove an unnecessary truck from the road. And a shipper in Pennsylvania can find capacity on the best route up to Maine.

With the help of tracking devices and big data, companies will be able to analyze and make strategic changes to their vehicles in order to get the most out of their assets. This level of optimization will change the automotive industry as vehicles and shipments become “smarter” with the help of technology.

Learn more about Kuebix‘s Order and Route Optimizer here.

Customer Service Kuebix Transportation

Importance of Customer Service in Transportation Operations

Good customer service is a must in any business that wants to not only survive but thrive within its industry. Good customer service means customer satisfaction. Ever been to a restaurant and the server never came to bring you a menu? Or have you waited in line for a bank teller only to have them close their window when it was your turn? These experiences left a bad taste in my mouth and it was all because the business lacked good customer service. Business should make customer service a company priority.

By providing good customer service in the logistics operation, such as the ability to track shipments and alert customers if their orders will be delayed, you will increase customer satisfaction. Tracking deliveries in real-time and communicating any issues which arise, alerts customers to problems and gives them time to make adjustments, such as finding an alternative source. Superior customer satisfaction and service sets your business apart from the competition and ensures customer loyalty.

Good customer service equates to a greater customer experience while they do business with your company. Poor customer service will drive people away from your brand. If a customer uses social media to inform others of your poor customer service, it can damage your brand’s reputation, which is hard to recover. However, an apology goes a long way. If something goes wrong, such as an order arrives late or a product is broken, quickly acknowledging the error and replacing the defective merchandise along with sending a sincere apology will deter any complaints and shows that your company cares for their customers. Showing you care through good customer service will do your business and your brand a world of good.

Showing respect, sending apologies, acknowledging errors and quickly fixing problems is what makes for good customer service. Improving efficiencies, such as in return processes and inbound shipments, will speed operations and deliveries to help you satisfy time-sensitive customers. Focuses externally on customers, putting their relationship first, helps to ensure customers will feel valued and want to continue working with your company.

In logistics operations, shippers establish KPIs to measure the performance of their carriers, such as the percentage of missed and on-time deliveries, loading and unloading times, truck turnaround times, etc. Using the performance data and actionable reports from a TMS, you can collaborate with carriers to identify how to address any issues that have arisen, especially issues that affect customer service. Focusing on improving your operations using KPI measurements and reporting keeps transport costs down, while increasing efficiencies, leading to greater customer service.

Since consumers today have heightened expectations about customer service, wanting their orders the same day and to know exactly when the order will arrive, businesses have to step up their game when it comes to improving customer service. Technology that gives visibility up and down the supply chain is the answer.

Community Load Match Kuebix

Don’t Let Limited Truckload Capacity Threaten Growth

Truckload capacity is at an all-time premium. This means that companies are struggling to retain the current rates they have, let alone add capacity as their businesses grow in the strong economic environment. The “shoe is on the other foot,” as they say, and truck owners are now in control of setting prices and taking their business elsewhere as they see fit. This leaves shippers in a difficult situation, they must either slow their pace of growth or source additional truckload rates.

According to the WSJ “More companies are pointing to rising freight costs as a drag on earnings and growth, as trucking companies raise rates.” In order to continue growing, companies need to source additional truckload rates to ensure they have capacity and are getting the best prices. The solution is technology. With the help of technology like Kuebix Community Load Match, spot quotes for truckload shipments can be easily found and booked.

Community Load Match is making it easier than ever for shippers to access a vast ecosystem of dedicated truckload carriers. Kuebix customers can now leverage a diverse community of brokers to supplement existing capacity with reliable alternatives. As capacity continues to shrink, it becomes more and more difficult to find and book spot rates for truckload shipments. The labor costs associated with calling brokers and carriers to book freight are high as well. Instead of calling and searching online for capacity, Kuebix is meeting the needs of its users by providing a single source to access a huge network of trucks that can provide attractive rates and a new, valuable source for truckload capacity. This saves time, reduces costs and gets freight shipped in an industry where truckload costs are rising, and assets are scarce.

The barrier to entry for Community Load Match is non-existent. The service is free to use for all Kuebix users, including Kuebix Free Shippers. Any user with truckload freight to ship simply enters the specifics of their shipment in Kuebix and posts it to Community Load Match. Within minutes, users begin receiving truckload rates and then can book and manage their shipments directly within the system. Shippers retain control of their operations by choosing the best provider for every truckload shipment. By increasing the available options, shippers are able to ensure all truckload moves are covered by the optimal carrier available.

Truckload capacity is growing more and more scarce, but finding the trucks which are available just got easier. Now, any size company with truckload freight to ship can find more capacity and get better pricing by posting their shipment to Kuebix Community Load Match.

Kuebix Freight Pay and Audit

Are You Still Manually Auditing Your Freight Bills?

Freight pay and audit can be a very tedious and expensive function. Money is wasted when companies pay outside firms by the invoice while the company may still be left dealing with difficult exceptions directly with the carrier. With the help of technology, the entire process can be streamlined and automated. This makes auditing invoices and handling exceptions highly efficient.

Automation means never accidentally overpaying for freight

Did you know that 15% of carrier invoices are incorrect and, more often than not, those erroneous bills are not in the shipper’s favor? Manually using carriers’ paper or email invoices to validate billed amounts can result in errors or even approvals without proper research. Overcharges can occur when all invoices are generically approved for remittance simply because the effort involved to research discrepancies is too time-consuming.

Automation makes auditing faster

By integrating carrier invoices directly with a TMS, carrier bills can be automatically audited against the approved rate quote for each shipment. If an invoice doesn’t match the agreed upon rate or falls outside an acceptable threshold, a rate exception claim can be created. Rate exception claims should include details of the actual discrepancy to make it easy to dispute. Then, the ERP system can be automatically updated with the new invoice information and payments can be made with confidence. When manual freight pay and audit functions are replaced with automatic ones, shippers only spend time looking at the invoices that are incorrect and always know where the discrepancies lay for easy disputing.

Automation helps to better manage cash flow

Paying invoices too early can reduce cash flow for the company. Kuebix keeps track of the payment terms with carriers and helps ERP systems pay carrier invoices on time, ensuring that invoices are not paid too early. The Kuebix platform automatically alerts the user which invoices to process for payment and on what date, ensuring cash-flow is managed correctly.

Automation provides more accurate financials

With technology, shippers have the ability to add important GL codes to the invoice so that their accounting teams can properly class the financial information for every line item on every shipment.  Enabling the smooth exchange of all associated financial data helps the company keep track of specific expenses by various product lines and business functions. By leveraging automation technology, opportunities to squeeze savings from shipping operations can be identified and implemented as well.

Kuebix TMS offers out-of-the box solutions to automate Freight Pay and Audit functions. This means that detailed rate exceptions can be viewed in one place instead of painstakingly researching discrepancies on each mis-matching invoice. By collaborating with Kuebix’s experienced team of implementation experts, a customized carrier invoice auditing integration can be created to fit any company’s specific needs.

Kuebix Consumer Packaged Goods

How One Consumer Packaged Goods Company Keeps Up with Its Speed of Growth

Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies are growing as convenience, drug and discount retailers gain industry presence due to their improved customer experience when compared with traditional brick-and-mortar. Stocking these smaller format stores, combined with the general nature of the merchandise, means that CPG supply chains are both high velocity and prone to demand spikes. Growing CPG companies looking to expand their order volume and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction are turning to technology to gain a competitive advantage.

180 Innovations, a private-label manufacturer offering a full range of health and beauty products, implemented Kuebix TMS to stay ahead of their increased shipment volume while maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction.

The company specializes in thermometry and produces oral, skin and hair care products. They supply retailers such as Marshalls, Rite-Aid, and CVS, and distribute across North America. Moving their freight management process from paper to one optimized for the digital age was an obvious choice for the manufacturer.

In 2016, the company began seeing a rapid period of growth, necessitating the move away from small parcel shipments via the postal service and toward LTL shipping. With these increased freight needs, 180 Innovations decided to optimize their processes rather than scaling an old system. To do this, the company adopted Kuebix TMS as their transportation management system.

Davor Vucic, an industry veteran with 20 years’ experience at 180 Innovations under his belt, manages the company’s shipping and receiving operations. Now, with Kuebix, he can rate, book and track shipments with ease as well as automatically create BOLs. In addition to the core functionality, Vucic has been able to leverage the power of the TMS to get ahead of his workload.

The ability to easily edit shipments has also been a benefit for 180 Innovations. If something needs to be added onto or removed from an already finished shipment, they can easily do so. Having the flexibility to modify shipments helps to keep product flowing and customers happy.

Kuebix TMS has made 180 Innovations’ transportation operations faster and more efficient. The manufacturer has been able to handle their increasing business without needing to scale their previously manual process. Davor Vucic reports that he is 5 times faster with Kuebix. Saying that “it’s the only way we are able to keep up with the speed of growth 180 Innovations is experiencing.”

To read more about this CPG company’s experience using Kuebix TMS, click here.

Inbound Freight Management Kuebix

Building a Successful Inbound Freight Management Program

Managing inbound freight is one of the most crucial parts of managing a successful supply chain, but the fact is… it’s hard!

Kuebix Founder and President Dan Clark discusses in a recent video how a company can better manage their inbound freight by following a detailed process that ensures their product is delivered to the distribution center with the optimal carrier, at the optimal price.

Frequently overlooked and often pushed to the bottom of a shipper’s supply chain agenda, good inbound freight management can help companies improve shipment visibility, save money, and enhance customer service—all of which add to the bottom line and boost profitability.

With outbound freight management, shippers are in control of the operation, managing their own picking orders and delivering to their own customers. With inbound freight, shippers are dependent on suppliers to pick orders, load and deliver to a distribution center. This takes collaboration and accountability among participants, and visibility into operations to know what is happening.

A successful inbound program must follow a detailed process for all freight delivered to the distribution center. The program needs to ensure that freight is delivered by the optimal carrier at the optimal price. It requires an infrastructure that creates a win-win relationship with suppliers and carriers that leverages available capacity to ensure freight will be delivered on time, claims free to the distribution center.

With real-time alerts and a real-time collaborative infrastructure, shippers can track shipment delivery times and better organize their docks so carriers aren’t left idling in the yard. A well-planned inbound freight management program uses LTL consolidations to make fuller trucks to reduce the number of deliveries arriving at the same time and utilizes backhaul opportunities to reduce shipping costs and improve efficiencies.

A well-orchestrated inbound freight management processes establishes a win-win program with suppliers to keep costs in check. It helps with managing supplier allowance programs for LTL and TL, streamlines the unloading process, establishes vendor inbound compliance and fosters dynamic capacity-based selections, where whoever has the capacity is the one selected to deliver the orders.

A superior inbound management program must be built on compliance and accountability. It requires a comprehensive routing guide that details the requirements for each stakeholder and each process. Everyone needs to understand the program and their responsibilities for its success. Enforcing these new compliance policies ensures cost reduction objectives will be met.

This will create an environment that makes it efficient and cost effective for all stakeholders involved in the process.

 

Stop the Double-Entry Madness!

When most people think of the supply chain, they picture pallets arranged on trailers or colorful shipping containers being loaded off of ships. However, there are a lot of moving parts to the supply chain even before product starts moving from point A to point B. Getting those pallets and containers to where they need to be takes time and a lot of pre-planning. To keep the supply chain running smoothly, orders need to be received, product needs to be produced to meet demand and transport needs to be arranged for pickup.

These steps require a high degree of attention in order to work successfully. Orders are tracked by PO number, SKU and many other metrics which might encompass anything from dimension to Haz-Mat classification. Many shipping departments studiously key order information from their ERP systems to their carriers’ websites to arrange transport. In some cases, printouts are even being re-keyed into spreadsheets. For anyone who has keyed product or order information back and forth between systems, you know that it can take considerable time and be riddled with manual errors.

Technology is helping shipping departments stop the double-entry madness. By integrating purchase orders directly from their ERP system, logistics professionals can automate the rapid creation of shipments by avoiding the need to re-key a long list of order line items. Integration is also two-way, meaning financial and customer service teams can gain visibility on all transactions as information flows seamlessly back to the ERP system.

By allowing order and product information to populate automatically, the need to re-key information between systems is completely eliminated. This decreases labor costs by saving time manually typing orders while simultaneously increasing order accuracy. Better order accuracy means never shipping the wrong product or quantity because of a simple typo and never having to explain to a customer why human error was to blame for your poor service.

Leveraging technology to automate a previously manual and tedious process is saving countless companies valuable time. Some companies have been slow to integrate their ERP with their TMS for fear of a long, complicated process. However, by seeking a TMS that offers a common integration approach to all ERP systems, shippers can be assured of rapid implementation and ROI. Kuebix TMS offers out-of-the-box ERP integrations. Click here to check out how we integrate with Microsoft DynamicsNetSuite and QuickBooks!

TMS Kuebix

So Your TMS Isn’t Working for You, Now What?

Many companies still use the TMS they installed 20 years ago, but technology has immensely changed in the past two decades. If you’re still using an outdated transportation management system (TMS), you probably aren’t getting the transparency and visibility you need to monitor shipments, optimize routes, lower costs and improve efficiencies. Customer expectations probably aren’t being met either since customers have become accustomed to Amazon-like delivery options and visibility to their orders. With legacy transportation management systems, you can’t tell if a delivery is going to be late so you can warn your customers. You don’t have the ability to collaborate in real time with your carriers and onboarding new carriers is a hassle. Your old TMS is simply not keeping up with consumers’ changing expectations and the increasing demands of the modern supply chain.

What do you do now?

Upgrading an older system is rarely an option. To compete in the modern supply chain where visibility and flexibility are key, you need to implement a cloud-based TMS. A cloud-based TMS offers faster start-up, lower usage costs, greater flexibility and rapid return-on-investment. Lower maintenance and support costs are a big plus, too. With a cloud-based TMS, any size business is given a fair chance at competing with larger companies because of low start-up costs and easier upkeep.

Modern transportation management systems can do a whole lot more than they used to.

Scalability is something that most legacy, on-premise TMS solutions do not offer because of their rigid infrastructure. With scalability available in newer TMSs, you are able to add new features and functionality to your system without starting from scratch. Your TMS should be flexible to grow as your business grows. Start with just rating, booking, scheduling and tracking, then add modular features like freight bill pay and audit, order consolidation, route optimization, and collaboration portals as needed to help you customize the technology to best fit your needs.

Complete supply chain visibility is another feature which only new, cloud-based TMSs can offer. From the loading dock to the final mile, a TMS should track and trace orders down to the SKU level, giving visibility to what is on each truck, how many items there are and where the truck is. A TMS should help you answer questions like whether the truck is delayed by traffic. Are items missing from the order? Is the driver taking scheduled breaks to ensure HoS compliance?

Do you have the ability to streamline inbound freight management with your old TMS? Probably not. Inbound freight management is often overlooked because it’s complicated, yet when done right, provides enormous savings. A new, cloud-based TMS should help to modify supplier and carrier behavior by enforcing specific procedures with routing guides and vendor compliance procedures that ensure maximum efficiency. Making sure that suppliers show up on time to the warehouse, which has the appropriate number of workers for unloading, helps to get the truck back on the road as soon as possible.

Most legacy TMSs do not integrate well with other systems. Today’s cloud-based transportation management systems have the ability to easily connect and share with customers, suppliers and carriers, on any device, wherever the stakeholder is. New systems integrate purchase orders directly from any ERP system to facilitate the rapid creation of shipments, avoiding the need to re-enter the order, which can lead to errors and increased admin time. Retailers with their own e-commerce engine should be able to connect directly to the TMS by using open APIs, adding shipment tracking and the ability to rate, book and schedule deliveries.

If your TMS is not cloud-based, isn’t able to manage inbound freight, will not integrate with other systems and cannot provide end-to-end visibility, along with flexibility and scalability to easily add additional features, then it is time for a change. With a cloud-based transportation management system like Kuebix TMS, all of this is possible. Check out our technology now with a free 14-day trial.

Vendor Inbound Compliance VICS Kuebix

Using a Vendor Compliance Program as a Tool to Improve Behavior

Companies can’t always control their suppliers’ actions or the efficiency of suppliers’ systems. What they can do is implement a set of Vendor Inbound Compliance Standards (VICS) to help improve supplier behavior. The goal is to increase collaboration to improve supplier behavior and drive out supplier related inefficiencies at the distribution center.

What is a VICS program?

A VICS program is a comprehensive set of compliance procedures which establish rules and processes that must be followed by suppliers when making deliveries. These accountability levels should also extend to the company’s own supply chain/logistics department and procurement group, both of which play a role in ensuring that products get quickly from their origin to the distribution center (DC). The goal? Improve supplier behavior so that their inefficiencies are not wasting time and money at the DC and to forge strong relationships with those suppliers.

Simply going to a supplier and demanding delivery improvements isn’t a productive method for advancing a mutually beneficial relationship. With a VICS program, the goal-posts are clearly outlined and can be tangibly measured. Everyone remains aware of the expectations and violations are clearly outlined. With some simple analytics, it becomes easy to pinpoint the areas which need improvement and take action on them. This leads to collaborating to solve issues as opposed to fighting over claims.

Common VICS Violations:

  •      •     No Advanced Shipment Notification (ASN)
  •      •     Re-weighing or re-classification of product
  •      •     Proper paperwork wasn’t presented at unloading
  •      •     Damaged or inappropriately transported product
  •      •     Late delivery or no-show

These common violations can be recuperated, measured and modified with the help of a VICS program. A VICS program shouldn’t be implemented as a solution to “punish” suppliers. Rather, it should be implemented to streamline processes on both sides of the dock door. The program should provide consistency for inbound deliveries from suppliers and internal activities alike.

Vendor Inbound Compliance Standards are just one way to take control of inbound freight operations. To learn more about implementing a VICS program along with other optimization tools to manage the inbound, download Kuebix’s e-book The Art of the Inbound here.

Kuebix - Amazon Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day’s Impact on the Supply Chain

Amazon Prime Day kicks off today at 3:00 PM EST and is one of the biggest e-commerce days of the year, with sales growing over 60 percent year-over-year since 2016. Prime Day features deep discounts for Amazon Prime members and will generate sales to rival those of the holiday season, even during one of the year’s lowest sales periods. Retailers supplying the 560M+ items available every day on Amazon in the USA are upping their game with the help of technology to meet expectations for quick deliveries and excellent service by optimizing their shipments and improving visibility.

Amazon Prime Day is like Black Friday, only in July, and demonstrates how consumers’ adoption of e-commerce shopping is growing at a pace that far exceeds expectations. E-tailers shipping into Amazon fulfillment distribution centers (FDCs) are focusing on improving efficiencies within their supply chains and streamlining operations to keep pace with the increased volume. By leveraging the power of technology, retailers are lowering transportation costs, finding needed capacity, and gaining visibility into operations to ensure customer service expectations are met.

Prime Day comes at a time of year that has been traditionally slow for the supply chain industry. There aren’t any major holidays, and back-to-school hasn’t quite started. However, the popularity of the event coupled with the capacity crisis and driver shortage are causing roadblocks for some retailers who haven’t already optimized their supply chains. To keep up with the heightened order volume, retailers must streamline internal processes, ship products more efficiently and maintain a heightened level of visibility to order line items.

Retailers are turning to technology to improve their internal processes through order integration, rate-comparison and freight pay and audit features. Global logistics communities are uniting carriers and shippers to find optimal routes to share assets and fill empty miles. Powerful optimization tools are consolidating loads and planning the most efficient routes to cut down on transit time as well as costs. All these processes are being made possible by technology and are helping to combat the capacity crunch by making shipping more efficient and utilizing assets to their fullest.

Amazon has set the bar high in terms of order visibility. Companies are now taking advantage of technology to gain visibility into their supply chains, resulting in superior customer service and more efficient operations. The adoption of technology like tracking devices, on-board computers, and cloud-based portals means that retailers can collaborate with carriers to improve performance. Carriers can provide an updated status of their delivery so that retailers know where goods are at all times and when to expect their arrival. If a delay is going to happen, the customer can be alerted, which improves satisfaction.

The industry is braced for “Christmas in July” as the countdown to Prime Day draws to a close. The deep discounts on more than one million items, both Amazon-branded products as well as items from third-party sellers, are guaranteed to have a large impact on the supply chain this year. In order to keep up with increased order volume and inventory turns, shippers are turning to technology to improve their processes and speed up delivery.

Importance of Visibility - Kuebix Supply Chain

The Power of Supply Chain Visibility for Complicated Supply Chains

Shipping some types of product, like fragile or hazardous goods, isn’t quite like shipping anything else. There are special considerations to take into account like product compatibility, axle weight distribution and unconventional loading equipment. The driver might need to be specially certified as well, since the product being shipped requires special care. For shippers transporting these types of goods, being able to view the status of their orders through every step of the supply chain is necessary to avoid accidents and understand performance.

What exactly is supply chain visibility?

Supply chain visibility is the ability to view every cog of the supply chain as moves are being planned, alerts are sent, and real-time adjustments are made. This keeps supply chain operations running smoothly and customer satisfaction high. The backbone of visibility is a cloud-based collaboration portal that can be shared by the customer, the supplier and carrier partners. This single platform will be used as a dynamic record of truth for the changes that need to occur across the supply chain to keep the delivery of goods moving efficiently. Visibility and collaboration go hand-in-hand and result in improved efficiencies across the supply chain.

How can visibility help improve my supply chain?

Collaborate with suppliers to plan labor and deliveries more efficiently – Before product can leave the distribution center, it’s important that the supplier can view the full backlog of orders they need to fill. By employing a shared portal based in the cloud, suppliers and customers can collaborate to exchange order information. This provides the supplier the information they need to plan production and commit to promise dates so that the customer can plan their business. When shipping untraditional goods like bulk chemicals or fragile glass products, its especially important to know that the appropriate labor or assets are available for moving product. Without the right equipment, entire truckloads can be delayed or missed, causing repercussions all along the supply chain.

Collaborate with carriers to improve performance and customer service – Once the order has been booked, the carrier participates in the collaboration portal and begins to provide status updates on their delivery. Many carriers provide electronic notifications through various protocols including EDI or web services driven from GPS or ELDs. Electronic tracking provides visibility to the customer and supplier on the true status of their orders. By giving carriers a platform to house shipment information, suppliers and customers alike can always know where their goods are and when to expect them to arrive at the next destination. When discrepancies like damages or late deliveries arise, it becomes easy to track where in the supply chain the process broke down. Tracking orders down to the SKU level helps to weed out underperforming carriers and eliminates the time previously spent calling carriers asking the same question, “where’s my truck?

Getting supply chain visibility for complicated supply chains.

With complete supply chain visibility, shippers and suppliers can ensure their supply chains are running smoothly. For businesses shipping fragile or hazardous goods, it is especially important to be able to view each node of the supply chain to foresee potential risks and trace issues. Implementing a cloud-based platform to act as the “record of truth” encourages efficiencies when planning labor and deliveries while simultaneously improving customer satisfaction. To learn more about how supply chains can achieve visibility, download Kuebix’s ebook, Driving Supplier, Carrier and Customer Collaboration: The Power of Supply Chain Visibility.

Kuebix Carrier Crisis Courting

A Modern Dating Game: Shippers are Courting Truckers

In today’s market, shippers have to “court” carriers if they want to get capacity. They can do this by making sure turn-around times are fast, drivers are well-paid and paid on time and that processes like tendering flow smoothly. Some trucking companies are refusing to service particular markets. Others are refusing to pick up loads for shippers they’ve had trouble with in the past.

What can shippers do to “court” truckers?

Offer better pay and perks to entice drivers – At the Transportation and Logistics Council’s Annual Conference, shippers discussed what they could do to make themselves more competitive in the race to secure capacity for freight. A key suggestion was to compensate truckers with higher wages to bring in more capacity. Other ideas included providing break rooms, bathrooms, free coffee, showers and more – in short, providing things to keep drivers happy while treating them with respect. The goal being that happy drivers will increase the likelihood of repeat capacity.

Improve operations to reduce turn-around times – With electronic logging devices (ELDs) accurately measuring the amount of time a driver is on the road, shippers need to focus on keeping truckers in the driver’s seat. Dock scheduling solutions allow carriers and suppliers to book appointments online and monitor statuses in real time, leveling the flow of activity in and out of the yard to decrease congestion and help truckers get back on the road as soon as possible. Ensuring the appropriate number of personnel are available for loading or unloading also allows drivers to get their trucks turned around faster. When wheels turn, drivers make money. If shippers want capacity, they are obligated to watch the clock and not cause delays for drivers.

Streamline processes to strengthen relationships – By tendering loads with plenty of lead time, shippers can give carriers the time they need to best plan routes and ensure driver availability. Shippers can also offer more flexible requests, such as wider shipping windows. This flexibility helps carriers offer the best lane and service for the job. Making sure that payments are made on-time is also essential for maintaining a strong reputation and good carrier relationships. When shippers improve these processes they make it easier for carriers to “sell” the shipper to their drivers, which increases the likelihood that drivers will want to do business with the shipper again.

In the past, only shippers kept scorecards on their carriers to measure performance. Now, carriers are also keeping track of shippers’ behaviors; things like ease-of-pick up, idling times, wait times, billing/payment accuracies, etc. In order to secure reliable capacity, shippers need to give their carriers the best working experience they can.

Changing all of these behaviors might seem like a daunting task, but with the help of a transportation management system like Kuebix TMS, these changes can be put into place with ease. Kuebix TMS enables shippers to compare rates side-by-side so that the lowest rate can be booked directly with the carrier without the need of a middle-man complicating the process. Kuebix also offers Dock Scheduling, Carrier Relationship Management and other programs and features which improve tracking and visibility to effectively communicate with carriers. By “courting” carriers with these operational and technical improvements, shippers can rely on capacity from carriers who are happy to handle their freight!

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