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Construction Industry Blog Post

Surmount Supply Chain Challenges in the Construction Industry with Technology

Between companies regularly distributing, manufacturing or using construction products, the construction industry experiences a steady flow of business. One thing all construction companies can agree on is the importance of operating efficiently in order to meet project deadlines. There are a number of barriers between smooth logistics operations and successful project completion for the construction industry. Below are just a few of the obstacles present in their logistics operations:

New Site Safety Regulations

In most cases, completing a project requires a number of professionals to be on-site completing tasks as a group. The pandemic has restricted the amount of workers that can safely work together at once. Adjusting to having fewer team members on-site and able to contribute to the project has resulted in a decrease in overall productivity

Rising Cost of Construction Materials 

The cost of raw materials needed for manufacturing construction materials rose by 2.2% in June. The surge in price can be largely attributed to supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic. Construction companies who realize they’re short on materials in the middle of a project will have an even harder time replenishing their stock in addition to dealing with a hefty price tag.

Strict Deadlines 

Deadlines are common within the construction industry, but Covid-19 is making them more difficult to meet. New rules and regulations in warehouses, supply chains and on construction sites slow down operations to ensure cleanliness. Anything sourced internationally has even more stops to make before it can reach its final destination. Visibility throughout the supply chain is essential for companies to make sure they’re able to comply with new rules and regulations and that their deadlines are feasible. 


Technology’s Role in the Construction Industry 

With the help of a transportation management system like Kuebix TMS, any construction company can take control of their supply chain and overcome industry-related challenges. Kuebix TMS helps logistics teams plan, book and gain visibility over all of their shipments. Whether the company is sourcing raw materials for delivery to a manufacturing plant or shipping to a construction site, Kuebix TMS can simultaneously cut costs and improve operational efficiencies.

Kuebix TMS users can seamlessly rate, book and track their freight to save time and improve customer service. Real-time tracking information keeps users informed and allows them to provide customers with better information in regards to the location and estimated arrival time of their purchase. Kuebix TMS provides users with detailed reports and dashboards that can help them make better informed decisions to further improve their logistics operations.

Integrating Kuebix TMS with an ERP like Microsoft Dynamics or NetSuite can drive additional cost savings. An ERP integration eliminates the need to re-key long lists of order line items, decrease labor costs and increase order accuracy.

The construction industry involves a wide range of products and professionals, but that doesn’t mean their logistics operations have to be overwhelming. Any construction company can leverage technology to help them successfully complete a project, meet deadlines and more!

Food and Beverage Blog Image

Unique Challenges Facing Food & Beverage Supply Chains

Food and beverage companies produce and distribute essential products every day. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in food shoppers buying supplies for a longer period of time (ex. shopping for 2 weeks at a time instead of 1) and purchasing products such as toilet paper, paper towels and disinfectant wipes in bulk. Practicing new skills like baking banana bread and sourdough bread have become popular ways to pass time. A recent study by Acosta revealed that 50% of respondents are spending more on groceries than they did pre-pandemic. Below are just a few of the elements challenging food and beverage supply chains as they race to keep up with heightened consumer demand.

Temperature Control Needed for Freshness

Not all products are able to travel in a standard truck responsible for the delivery of many different types of freight. Some food and beverage products must be stored at a specific temperature. Failing to meet the optimal conditions can result in the degradation of the quality of food and render products unsellable. To meet the needs of these products, shippers have to use refrigerated trucks. Making sure that a temperature-controlled truck is available and able to fit all of the required products is an added process for logistics professionals to consider.

Products Sensitive to Expiration Dates 

Nearly all food and beverage products have an expiration date on their label. While non-perishable items offer more flexibility in terms of when they hit the shelves, products like fresh produce and vegetables are not as forgiving. Time-sensitive products must be moved efficiently to ensure they reach their final destination in a condition that’s prime for selling. Shoppers want fresh vegetables and produce that will remain fresh for a period of time even after purchasing. It’s up to food and beverage companies to make sure their perishable products are in the right place at the right time.

Rapidly Expanding Product Variety

Consumers are starting to gravitate towards healthier products made of fewer ingredients. However, they are not interested in compromising on taste. Manufacturers are constantly adjusting to consumer taste and preferences which creates a wider variety of products. For example, a product as simple as yogurt now dominates the refrigerated aisle of grocery stores to accommodate different flavor preferences and dietary restrictions (oat, almond and soy bases to substitute for dairy). With each new product comes new storage and transportation specifications, making it even more complex for supply chains to keep stores stocked.

How Technology Can Help Keep Food & Beverage Supply Chains Moving

Food and beverage businesses are juggling unique challenges within their industry and those brought on by Covid-19. Implementing technology like Kuebix TMS into their supply chains gives power back to the shipper and lightens their workload. With Kuebix TMS, food and beverage companies can rate, book and track their shipments in a single system. Kuebix TMS gives users complete visibility and control over their logistics operations, making it easier than ever to keep even the busiest supply chains moving. Real-time tracking information and detailed analytics empower shippers to improve their customer service and make better informed decisions.

Kuebix TMS Medical Equipment and Supplies Blog Post

Battling Medical Device and Equipment Supply Chain Disruptions During Covid-19

Medical devices and equipment are tantamount to tactical gear and weaponry in the war against Covid-19. Without the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) like disposable gloves, masks and gowns, our healthcare workers are entering the battlefield without the assets they need for success.

It’s not only PPE and products like ventilators that are essential during this grueling period of history; the supply chains of standard medical devices and equipment are also being disrupted. Everything from heart disease to seasonal allergies haven’t been put on pause just because there’s a global pandemic. The disruption in the global supply chain is putting strain on all facets of the medical industry and putting people at risk if the medical companies they rely on to keep them healthy falter.

Medical Device and Equipment Shortages

During times of enormous strain on the medical industry, the U.S. government is called upon to provide states access to the emergency stockpile. According to two health officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, however, the national stockpile of masks, respirators, gloves, gowns, and face shields was already severely depleted at the end of March. To put this into perspective, a report by the U.S. Oversight Committee in mid-April confirmed that New York had received 4,400 ventilators and another 3,520 went to places like New Jersey, Washington, Michigan, Illinois and Florida. Currently, there are 1 million+ confirmed cases in the United States.

To combat the shortage, individual manufacturers of medical equipment have stepped up their production efforts. Sourcing materials from international supply chains has proved to be highly complex, as different countries have responded to Covid-19 in different ways, some even halting raw material manufacturing completely.

Other companies in various industries have added their production power to the medical device and equipment shortage fight. Companies like Lego, Under Armor, and Xerox are manufacturing face shields, masks, and hand sanitizer respectively to help out the overburdened medical industry.

Connect Remotely by Leveraging a Cloud-based TMS

In a pre-pandemic world, many logistics teams were still relying on email, phone calls and shared Excel sheets to manage their freight. With a majority of people working from home, these more traditional forms of collaboration aren’t enough for medical equipment and device companies trying to navigate a turbulent supply chain.

Cloud-based transportation management systems like Kuebix TMS have changed this, however. Now, with the help of technology, every supply chain stakeholder from the logistics department, AR/AP, sales and customer service can collaborate in a single system and work off of the same transportation information. This means that teams scattered across multiple location can quickly rate, book and track their essential deliveries to ensure the public is supplied with life-saving equipment without ever having to pick up the phone.

By leveraging a cloud-based TMS like Kuebix TMS, teams can work off of the same set of information, maintain historical data for analysis and digitally connect with carriers for rating, booking, tracking and managing freight.

Plan Ahead to Instantly Access Truckload Capacity

With so many supply chains in chaos and trucking companies either overburdened by spikes in demand of struggling to fill empty lanes, finding real-time capacity and pricing for domestic freight may seem like a challenge. Companies that rely on the same small set of carrier partners will find themselves overpaying or missing deliveries as the pandemic’s effect on the supply chain worsen.

To get set up with the best chance of covering every load at the best price, medical companies need to ‘build their bench’ of carriers. With a wider selection of carrier partners to choose from, the likelihood of optimally covering every load increases dramatically. This means that tight margins can be maintained and business can proceed as smoothly as possible.

The best way any company can quickly and easily ‘build their bench’ is by connecting digitally with a vast network of asset-based carriers. Instead of negotiating spot quotes one-by-one, manufacturers and distributors can instead turn to their connected community to request bids all at once and tender proceed with tendering their freight. From there it’s a simple process to turn those direct carrier relationships built off of spot quotes into negotiate contracted carrier rates as needed.

Kuebix Community Load Match

Kuebix Community Load Match is a platform that allows any Kuebix TMS user to quickly connect to a vast ecosystem of dedicated truckload carriers, brokers, freight marketplaces and direct carrier assets. The system enables shippers to request and compare spot rates from their carriers and the Kuebix community with the touch of a button, while retaining control of their freight by choosing the carrier or broker directly.

Users’ job is simplified by tendering all shipments using one system for spot quoting as well as booking with regularly negotiated carrier rates. Instead of switching between carrier websites or hammering the phone, shippers can instead view all of their bids in a single place to choose the best one for their freight.

By connecting digitally with a platform like Kuebix Community Load Match, medical companies can quickly build their bench of carriers and meet the surges in demand arising from this crisis.

How Kuebix is Helping Medical Device and Equipment Companies During Covid-19

The essential role medical device and equipment companies play during the Covid-19 pandemic is unquestionable. For that, everyone at Kuebix would like to say Thank You. Their continued efforts keep households, doctors and hospitals equipped with the products they need to keep everyone healthy.

At Kuebix, we want to help keep America’s supply chains moving. That’s why we’re offering 60 free days of our award-winning Kuebix Business Pro TMS to help companies during Covid-19. As many of us switch to remote operations, cloud-based TMS technology like Kuebix can help shippers collaborate within their supply chains and gain access to the carriers and capacity they need.

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 Transportation Management System or 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
  •      •     Simplify collaboration with supply chain stakeholders
  •      •     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 the 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. It’s important to realize that not all companies operate in the same way, and a scalable transportation management does just that. 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.Cloud-based platforms create an opportunity for next-level collaboration across supply chains. 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 Transportation Management System (TMS)?

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

  1. Rating: Any logistics professional with a TMS can easily find rates for their customers’ orders and book those orders for delivery.
  2. Booking: 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. Picking the rate with the best price and service level is both faster and easier!
  3. Tracking: Transportation management systems provide detailed tracking information on shipments all the way from the warehouse to their final destination.

Together, these features unlock potential for improved operational efficiencies and increased visibility throughout the supply chain.

Common Transportation Management System (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 of 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 eliminates 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 Transportation Management System (TMS) Software 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.

Many transportation management systems can be implemented within a matter of days or weeks. The cloud-based nature of the platform makes online updates and troubleshooting significantly easier for users. Simplified installation and upkeep leads to significant and long-term time and money savings.

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 transportation management systems (TMS’s) 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.

TMS’s Can Be Integrated with Users’ ERP Systems

Most transportation management systems (TMS) have several out of the box ERP integrations but can also customize an integration for any ERP system capable of sending and consuming data. Shippers can seamlessly integrate with some of the most popular ERP systems including NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics.

ERP integrations are commonly added to a TMS like Kuebix to increase efficiencies for shippers and drive cost savings. These integrations allow information like product and order details to flow automatically from an ERP or ordering system directly into TMS software and vice versa. This means that users don’t need to waste their time rekeying data between different systems and removes the risk of human error.

So, what is a Transportation Management System?

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. Kuebix TMS allows all supply chain stakeholders to collaborate on a single platform. Actionable analytics and detailed tracking information help to improve customer service. And since Kuebix is built on the latest cloud technology, it can be implemented quickly so that any company can begin seeing rapid ROI.

In conclusion, to learn about Kuebix TMS visit here.

10 Keywords Logistics Professionals Should Keep an Eye on in 2020

The start of a new year means that it’s time to realign priorities and set new goals. This doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch! There are plenty of topics and information from 2019 that are important to carry over into 2020. Below are a few keywords that are sure to make headlines this year:

1. Network-based Communities

A network-based community is a group of people interacting through their network-based platform. Network-based platforms are formally defined as a piece of technology or software that connects its users to create mutually beneficial opportunities for all involved.

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Often referred to as AI, artificial intelligence is gradually becoming more common in the transportation industry. Artificial intelligence is the development of computers that allows them to perform tasks that traditionally call for human intelligence.

3. Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial environment a user experiences through sensory experiences created by a computer. The user’s actions alter what happens within the environment. In addition to its popularity in video games, virtual reality (VR) has begun to extend beyond the realm of entertainment. Many trucking companies use VR-based training programs for new hires.

4. Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics extends beyond a traditional view of operations. It refers to the process of using data, statistical algorithms, and machine learning techniques to provide the most accurate projection of a company’s future performance possible. Predictive analytics uncovers patterns and relationships within data that create room for growth and improvement within supply chains.

5. Autonomous Vehicles

An autonomous vehicle is one that can direct itself without human conduction. While many don’t realize it, autonomous vehicles are already making deliveries in some parts of the country and are projected to be a significant part of the transportation industry!

6. Digital Supply Chain

The term “digital supply chain” refers to a supply chain dependent on capabilities provided by the internet to operate. Digital supply chains are always on and hyper-collaborative with carriers, suppliers and shippers on a singular network.

7. Transportation Management System (TMS)

A transportation management system (TMS) is the key to staying competitive in a continuously evolving marketplace. It is a system that companies can use to digitally manage their freight operations and eliminate traditional processes like calling and emailing partners.

8. Customer Experience

As consumer expectations continue to rise, their experience as customers become more and more important. Customer experience refers to the customer’s thoughts, feelings and perceptions regarding the employees, channels, systems and products of the company they are interacting with. Satisfaction with delivery is a big part of customers’ overall experience.

9. Sustainability

Growing environmental concerns mean that sustainability should be on every company’s mind. Those who are considered to have sustainable operations often utilize a TMS to transition into greener, more eco-friendly habits. Users are able to optimize truck routes and reduce supply chain waste – All while helping the environment!

10. Amazon Effect

It’s no secret that Amazon is dominating the retail industry. Amazon’s free, 2-day shipping guarantee to its Prime members has become an industry standard. The “Amazon effect” refers to customers demanding Amazon-like services such as fast shipping and visibility throughout the supply chain.

 

Network-Based Platform

What is a Network-Based Platform?

Every year there are new buzzwords about technology circulating the industry. You probably see terms like blockchain, internet of things (IoT) and big data regularly take over your inbox. The latest trend revolutionizing the software and technology space are Network-Based Platforms. Network-based platforms have been around for several years in the consumer space, but now, this methodology is being adopted in SaaS and other cloud-based solutions to add value for users.

Network-Based Platform: Definition

A network-based platform is a piece of technology or software that connects users with other members of a community to create mutually beneficial opportunities. Instead of simply being a tool to use within the four walls of an organization, network-based platforms help users find opportunities by connecting them with other users in the network while simultaneously fulfilling a function. The usefulness of the platform snowballs as more and more members join the network. This phenomenon is known as the Network Effect.

What is the Network Effect?

“The Network Effect” exists when the addition of another person or company makes all the existing members of the network better off.

“In a November 2014 video for UPS, MIT Professor Yossi Sheffi described the power and value of the network effect as follows:

“The network effect exists when the addition of another element [to the network] makes all the existing elements in the [network] better off,” explains Sheffi, citing cell phone networks and Facebook as examples. “It’s a positive feedback loop. As the network grows, the more value it provides. The more value [the network] provides, it grows even bigger. It’s the economics of having an extra point on the network, and the fact that you can build a lot more services on the existing network, that’s the power of the network.”[1]

Therefore, to paraphrase Professor Sheffi, the network effect exists in transportation when the addition of another shipper, carrier, freight broker, or other participant to the network makes all the existing members of the network better off — by more quickly and efficiently matching demand with supply; by executing transactions in a more streamlined and automated way; and by providing everyone with network-based business intelligence and analytics about capacity, rates, on-time delivery, and other metrics.”

A network-based platform is a piece of technology that builds value by leveraging the network effect.

Examples of Network-Based Platforms

Social media – Network-based platforms have become incredibly popular, and very common, at a consumer level. Social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram rely on the network effect to retain users and scale their operations. The more people who join the platform, the more valuable the platform is for everyone else.

Ride-sharing – Ride-sharing technology has also taken off thanks to the network-effect. Companies like Uber and Lyft are based on a network of people looking for rides and people who can offer rides for a fee. This service isn’t merely a regular car rental, instead, these ride-sharing platforms connect thousands of individuals who otherwise would never have an opportunity to collaborate.

Fitness tech – The fitness industry has also incorporated the network effect into their technologies. Fitbit, for example, isn’t only a personal health monitoring device, it’s also a service to connect individuals with similar lifestyle goals. Getting people to collaborate isn’t only an added social benefit for users, it can literally make the technology more effective for achieving fitness goals.

What’s the Difference Between Network-Based Platforms and Traditional Software?

Network-based platforms let users connect and collaborate with other stakeholders outside of the four walls of their offices or homes. As more and more people become accustomed to network-based platforms like social media, companies are beginning to expect similar benefits from their business software. Instead of simply managing day-to-day processes with technology, companies are demanding opportunities to collaborate with other stakeholders in their industry directly through the platforms they use every day.

In the transportation and logistics industry, a network-based transportation management system (TMS) allows users to collaborate with a vast shipping community for greater efficiencies such as accessing truckload spot quotes in addition to contracted carrier rates. Unlike traditional platforms for managing logistics operations, a network-based TMS connects shippers with an entire ecosystem of other shippers, carriers, brokers, freight marketplaces and 3PLs.

The Network TMS

Kuebix TMS is the only true Network TMS. At Kuebix, we’re building the largest connected shipping community driven by our modular, cloud-based TMS that scales to meet the needs of small to enterprise companies. Kuebix customers can manage all their modes and contracted carriers in Kuebix as well as take advantage of savings on truckload spot quotes, opportunities to fill fleet backhaul, and other discounts and benefits because they are part of our network. That’s the Network Effect in transportation management at work!

[1] http://talkinglogistics.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/1_The_Network_Effect_Part1.mp4

TMS Benefits and Advantages

The Advantages and Benefits of Transportation Management Systems (TMS) *Infographic*

Challenges like the driver shortage, capacity crunch, increased final mile delivery expectations and rising freight prices have shippers looking for ways to improve their supply chains. The solution to these problems is to implement a transportation management system (TMS). A robust TMS can speed up logistics operations, reduce waste and improve the company’s bottom line. Here are a few of the main advantages and benefits of transportation management systems (TMS).

TMS Advantages Infographic Small

  1. Save between 10 – 20% on your total freight spend depending on your supply chain’s current processes.
  2. Gain visibility to all your loads and always have an answer to the question: “Where’s my truck?!”
  3. Select the best rate & best service type for every shipment by comparing all options side-by-side.
  4. Optimize and consolidate loads and routes to reduce empty miles and improve efficiencies.
  5. Track and trace orders down to the SKU level to provide better service to customers.
  6. Analyze reports, dashboards, and carrier & supplier scorecards to make strategic changes to your supply chain.
  7. Centralize all order and load information so that it can be easily accessed by any team member, creating continuity for logistics teams.
  8. Exceed customer expectations and improve customer satisfaction by shipping faster, cheaper, and with improved visibility.
Network Effect Kuebix

Enabling the Network Effect in Transportation Management [eBook]

According to Adrian Gonzalez, President of Adelante, SCM, Supply Chain Operating Networks are the business equivalent of LinkedIn and Facebook. These cloud-based networks can enable companies to embrace collaboration and realize huge efficiencies. But Supply Chain Operating Networks are few and far between. One of the reasons for this absence is because the majority of technology traditionally used by supply chains have been housed within the “four walls” of individual companies. New SaaS, cloud-based technologies like Kuebix TMS are changing this.

As traditional, on-premises transportation management systems become replaced by SaaS, cloud-based ones, companies have the opportunity to digitally connect with one another via new Supply Chain Operating Networks. Kuebix is the first TMS to fully embrace this concept, with Kuebix’s technology acting as the backbone for a rapidly growing community.

The swift growth of Kuebix’s shipping community is proving the idea that the Network Effect can be used to great advantage in the supply chain industry. With over 16,000 companies in the Kuebix’s shipping network, thousands of suppliers, shippers, carriers, brokers, and other supply chain players are able to connect with one another for new collaboration opportunities.

These opportunities can lessen the impact of tightening capacity, help fill empty backhaul miles and ensure that shippers are always aware of the most cost-effective and customer-friendly options to ship.

Read an excerpt of Gonzalez’s eBook, Putting Community in TMS: Enabling the Network Effect in Transportation Management, to learn more about the Network Effect in transportation and supply chain operations.

Transportation management is inherently a network-based business process. It involves an ecosystem of different parties — a community, if you will, of shippers, carriers, consignees, brokers, and others that need to communicate and collaborate with each other in order to transport products and utilize assets and labor as efficiently as possible.

This transportation community is analogous to the connections and relationships enabled by social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. A big difference, however, is that unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, which are powered by network native software, the transportation community has historically been powered by enterprise-centric software — that is, transportation management systems (TMS) that were designed for, and used primarily by, the transportation function within the four walls of a company.

This fragmented, “inside the four walls” approach makes it challenging to quickly and efficiently match transportation demand with available capacity, as companies of all sizes experienced in 2018. This growing need in the market for better matching of supply and demand, coupled with the rise of cloud computing, software-as-a-service (SaaS), application programming interfaces (APIs), and other emerging technologies, is driving the next evolution of transportation management systems.

Simply put, transportation management systems are transitioning from being “inside the four walls” applications to becoming operating systems that power transportation communities and enable network effects.

Click here to download the full eBook!

 

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.

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.

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.”¹

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.”

¹Logistics Management Magazine

erp integration kuebix tms

How Integrating Your ERP With Your TMS Will Make Life Easier

Hardly anyone will deny that technology is the future. For companies with supply chains, this means utilizing some combination of a transportation management system (TMS), enterprise resource planning system (ERP), yard management system (YMS) and warehouse management system (WMS) just to keep up with the competition!

That’s a lot of different technology to manage, especially since these disparate technologies don’t usually “talk” to each other. Transferring important order information back and forth from an ERP ordering system to a TMS can be particularly tedious and inefficient. That’s why smart integrations between a TMS and an ERP system like NetSuite, Quickbooks, or Microsoft Dynamics make so much sense.

Shippers who integrate their ERP with their TMS can:

Facilitate the rapid creation of shipments

With an order integration between a TMS and an ERP, orders automatically flow from the ERP to the TMS for easy rating, booking, and tendering. Instead of going back and forth between systems and spreadsheets, the order information is automatically populated, eliminating the need to rekey anything.

Ensure 100% order accuracy

Since information is automatically populated within the TMS, the information is right, every time. It’s amazing the difference it can make when there is no longer any risk of human error because of rekeying. PRO numbers, product SKUs, weights and every other metric of an order appear automatically, resulting in 100% order accuracy.

Gain complete order visibility

Once an order has been booked for shipment, shippers don’t lose visibility to that order. All shipment details are mapped back to the target ERP system for accurate record keeping and visibility for all stakeholders.

Understand the true landed cost of goods

Since all order information is tracked and shared between systems, shippers can leverage reports and analytics to view the true landed cost of goods down to the SKU level. This means they can make smarter decisions regarding their company’s bottom line when they integrate purchase orders directly from an ERP system.

Shippers that choose to integrate their ERP systems with a TMS like Kuebix TMS will rapidly begin to see the time and money savings. Orders are created, booked, and visible at every stage of the supply and can be accurately measured for better strategic decision-making. To learn more about how an ERP integration process with Kuebix is managed, check out the ERP Integration Highway datasheet.

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