A transportation management system is a software application — usually cloud-based — designed to simplify the management and administration of multiple consignments for commercial shipping operations. It can include features such as live GPS tracking, automatic invoice creation, electronic proof of delivery and the ability to assign jobs and reroute drivers from a live dispatch dashboard. You can typically access cloud-based systems from any compliant web browser on any type of device with an internet connection. They can also provide a mobile app from which drivers can check their current workload and schedule daily.
Below, we consider TMS software in more detail, looking at who uses transportation management systems, how they work and what they offer.
A cloud-based transportation management system stores data relating to individual consignments on remote servers, usually located in a modern data centre. It allows shippers, senders, and recipients to log into the system from any location where a secure internet connection is available. Advanced systems utilise the GPS chips in drivers’ smartphones to provide live tracking information for all consignments.
A warehouse management system (WMS) is designed to simplify the management of warehouses, with inventory control, picking & packing, order processing and storage management functionality. A transportation management system (TMS) focuses on managing consignments once they have left the warehouse and on their way to customers. Ideally, these two systems should communicate with each other to simplify the process of stock control and order fulfilment.
A transportation management system that utilises GPS technology can track parcels from the moment they are dispatched to their successful delivery. When asked what TMS (transportation management systems) is and how it helps them, most logistics managers cite its ability to track consignments in real-time, making this an essential service.
We need to consider who uses transportation management systems to answer this question. Shipping companies, suppliers, and recipients all use transportation management systems regularly. Though we wouldn’t expect individual customers to invest in such a system, both shippers and suppliers should consider doing so to maximise their efficiency.
A TMS could reduce your overheads in many ways. The ability to raise invoices from within the system will simplify the task of billing customers, saving both time and money. Furthermore, the live tracking functionality minimises the number of consignments that go astray. The ability to manage deliveries in real-time is essential in making cost savings.
When considering which system to choose, you need to think about what you stand to gain from this type of software: what is transportation management system technology going to do for your company? Once you have identified the most crucial functionality you require, you can focus on systems that excel in this area.