The freight industry is notorious for its high-stress environment and the many challenges that come with it. One of those challenges includes managing all the different aspects of the business. This can make it difficult to stay organized while juggling everything else going on at once.
Transportation management systems (TMS) are designed to help streamline daily processes by providing key functionalities that allow for an efficient and effective digital tool for brokers who need software specifically designed for them.
As transportation becomes more complex, the logistics service providers are becoming aware of the need to modernize their entire supply chain. One way transportation companies can thrive is by keeping up to date with the latest technology trends and how they will assist in solving their challenges.
The TMS industry trends indicate that with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18.2%, the TMS market size is expected to increase from $7.7 billion in 2020 to over $17.8 billion by 2025. Technological advances and fast growth in the eCommerce industry have fueled the recent growth of the TMS industry, with the North American sector accounting for the highest market share.
North American companies have been the first to take advantage of some innovative technology, such as cloud computing and mobile devices, which have led to today’s TMS solutions and services. Advancements in Machine-to-Machine (M2M), mobile, and cloud technologies within transportation have improved the efficiency of business processes.
Large industries are increasingly relying on TMS solutions to enhance the employee experience and tackle urgent business continuity challenges amid various crises such as the COVID-19 lockdowns. North America is expected to dominate the global transportation management system market, driven by large enterprises and SMEs. They focus on developing new technologies such as analytics, AI, and ML that are integrated with TMS solutions.
Suffice to say, a transportation management system software is often imperative to the success of supply chains.
They can affect every part of the shipment process, from planning and procurement to logistics and lifecycle management. Mobility and delivery are important for any company, even freight brokers. With the TMS platform, companies can attain greater supply chain visibility which will help increase their efficiency in terms of transportation and planning.
There are numerous benefits to a TMS that enhance productivity and saves time and money for users through an easy-to-use interface. Here are the necessary components that every TMS solution should have.
Essential TMS Software Components and Functionalities
When selecting TMS software, it’s essential to consider which features are most valuable for your business. TMS vendors will sometimes provide different features, depending on their target audience and their specific needs in the transportation industry.
A quality TMS software platform will give freight brokers and logistic providers the ability to compare different transportation companies against one another regarding on-time deliveries and other attributes. This capability will help you find the best rates and determine which carriers are better than the rest and what they can do to gain an edge over their competition.
Order Processing Functionalities
Most freight automation systems allow businesses to share their purchase order information with suppliers and file EEI through an automated report system. In addition to streamlining sourcing and procurement tasks, a freight management system also reduces the time to find accurate records.
Load Management Components
These new transportation management systems can help companies track their loads from the beginning to the end of the shipment cycle. The TMS software should highlight the data related to loads and drivers, drop dates and load statutes, and more. The system should also allow sorting of loads based on similarities such as carriers, drivers, customers, or references.
Routing and Dispatching
A logistics coordinator can find more time and fuel-efficient routes by analyzing maps, modal and speed limits, traffic data, fuel costs, and weather forecasts in real-time. With this type of data, the shipper will determine which carriers are best for each delivery and help consolidate their loads to make them more efficient.
In addition, by using state-of-the-art wireless communication for dispatching and deployment of truck drivers, dispatchers will be able to quickly and seamlessly create, plan, and track the shipment directly through the TMS platform.
Every efficient TMS platform will need to come with an integrated EDI module. This allows for the automated receipt and transmission of crucial data such as tracking numbers, shipment information, and delivery times.
The EDI module will also be able to create price quotes for shippers in real-time by using the service providers’ rates based on their location, equipment type (i.e., container or trailer), distance/route traveled, the weight of the shipment, and more.
The EDI module will also allow for the creation of shipping manifests with automatic routing calculations. This is crucial to ensure a smooth and timely delivery that can be tracked directly through the TMS platform.
A good TMS should have an integrated database, allowing users to manage all their operational data in one platform. By doing so, it becomes possible to access all the information from any device.
The best TMS software will simplify automation and integration of data with various ERP systems such as SAP, Oracle, or others. This is crucial for streamlining complicated processes like financial reporting, tying in seamlessly with other modules that are focused on managing inventory or carriers.
The TMS system needs to consolidate the most useful tools through seamless integrations with carriers, freight load boards, accounting software, and many more broker accessories.
The client-side is equally important, as it allows for all the data to be accessed with any software. This includes third-party integrations and APIs that enable brokers to customize their experience by adding modules from other providers. A TMS system should have an integrated database that facilitates the integration of various enterprise systems while simplifying the entire process.
A Self-Service Client Portal
The company’s clients need to access their data, enter new orders, and make payments without any assistance from the IT team or software vendor. This gives them peace of mind regarding the status of their shipment and improves the level of customer satisfaction with the overall service.
The self-service portal is an integral part of a TMS system and should have access to all client-related data, including shipment statuses and order details. It also needs integration with other business systems to provide real-time updates with these orders.
This key component will significantly streamline processes, acting as a self-service order management system (OMS) where clients can place orders, manage these orders, and process payments.
Another valuable component that a well-rounded TMS system should be is an email assistant. The email assistant module is a great way to send emails directly from the TMS platform.
The main advantage of this system would be increased efficiency while sending out messages and improved accuracy and consistency in all communications because it reduces errors that are often made when handling manual operations. It also saves time by eliminating the need for repetitive data entry. In addition, an advanced email assistant will use AI and ML to extract shipment details from incoming quote requests and respond with a quote in minutes.
This component is beneficial for freight brokers who are constantly sending quotes. The email assistant helps automate this process so that the broker doesn’t have to spend time on repetitive tasks and focus more on their professional goals.
Buyer and Seller Marketplace
An advanced and robust TMS platform will also have a buyer and seller marketplace where shippers and freight brokers can immediately find the best rates for their shipments. Likewise, carriers can post their rates and align themselves with shippers and freight brokers to match them with loads.
This marketplace is a simple way for carriers, shippers, and freight brokers to find each other through an automated interface – this is the ultimate goal of any TMS platform.
Financial and Accounting Management Capabilities
Transportation management system software provides freight brokers with the technology that streamlines and automates many of their accounting needs. These features handle claims and set transactions to cover shipping or handle any last-minute changes while protecting them from any human error.
Freight brokers can handle their shipping in any mode, thanks to the majority of TMSs. In addition to that, most systems are also able to handle primary accounting and financial needs.
Analytics tools help provide valuable data from various facets of the shipment process. This includes transaction data, profitability, user interaction, and profit margins. Analytics is a key tool when considering if you should accept or decline a freight broker opportunity. By tracking these KPIs, you’ll get a comprehensive view of what is going well and what isn’t, ensuring an overall better decision-making process. The TMS system should have the capability to gather this data and make it available in an easy-to-understand format.
In today’s world, mobile devices are prevalent. As such, TMS software should be accessible on a tablet or phone as well. This will allow freight brokers to make better decisions relevant to their industry and view trucking schedules from anywhere there is an internet connection. This level of mobility often requires that the TMS be cloud-based, making it accessible from everywhere.
Given that each business has different operational needs, it is essential to first identify your own transportation management system needs before shopping for a new TMS.
Using a freight management system for cost and efficiency allows for the most accurate data to make decisions. It frees up employee time while boosting shipping consolidation. As a freight broker, it is vital to make sure that you are using software that provides your company with the core features it needs to thrive and prosper and the possibility to scale quickly and with minimum additional costs.
One such company that has all these features and benefits is Tai Software. As a cloud platform, it uses artificial intelligence to provide its users with an organizational platform that makes shipping and accounting more efficient. It’s good for freight brokers, 3PLs, freight forwarders, large shippers, and other logistics companies because the AI system can scale growth accordingly.
Request a free demo today and take advantage of what some of the best TMS solutions have to offer!