TMS is fast becoming a go-to tool for supply chain management professionals across every industry. However, for one industry in particular – food producers/shippers – the TMS is becoming indispensable. Here are five reasons why TMS for transportation automation and optimization is a must-have for food shippers.
Reason #1 – TMS adds shelf time. Proteins and produce in particular have a very finite shelf-life due to the highly perishable nature of meats, cheeses, fruits and veggies. With the cost of producing these foods on the rise due to climate related issues and transportation capacity issues, food shippers are hungry (no pun intended) for ways to reduce the time their products spend in transit. A solid TMS with integrated optimization tool can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to get finished product onto store shelves/refrigerated cases. It can also help minimize instances of spoilage and contamination.
Reason #2 – TMS improves visibility. With increasing interruptions in the supply chain for feed grain used by poultry and other protein producers impacting the predictable availability of raw materials inbound to growers, the visibility into inbound deliveries from vendors provided by a TMS helps producers better communicate with customers regarding when purchase orders will be filled.
Reason #3 – Capacity issues weigh more heavily on food shippers. Everyone knows that between new HOS rules, the ongoing driver shortage and the new ELD mandate, trucking capacity has grown tighter than ever. The Collaborator blog has posted about capacity issues here and here. Shipping perishable product means every minute counts when loads are ready to be moved. Having a TMS in place greatly increases lead time and helps streamline delivery scheduling, ensuring perishable product is shipped in a timely fashion even in a tight capacity environment.
Reason # 4 – Seasonality is better addressed using TMS Integrated Optimizers. More than most, food producers are subject to the change of seasons, shipping from different production facilities based on time of year and growing seasons. Using transportation optimization tools included in world-class TMS solutions allows food shippers to plan better routes in different geographical areas. State of the art optimization tools even offer weather and traffic overlays to ameliorate delays caused by storms and other meteorological phenomena.
Reason #5 – Private Fleet usage is up. As a hedge against capacity issues and due to the aforementioned perishability issues, food shippers are among the highest users of private fleets for transportation. While most TMS solutions do not offer robust private fleet management capabilities as part of the overall implementation, there are a few industry leaders that field such functionality as part of their platforms. This is a trend expected to experience significant growth.