As West Coast Port Contract Ends, TMS Investments Look Prescient

It’s my job as Director of Marketing for UltraShipTMS to convince shippers of the very real need for transportation automation and optimization software.  Generally speaking, I don’t take to the Supply Chain Collaborator blog to push the product (or the Support Department of the Year that comes along with it).  But this next story does the selling for me tacitly, as I simply report on the imminent closure of the Port of Oakland due to labor disputes.

By all accounts, the closure of the Ports of Oakland and Los Angeles would wreak havoc on the just-in-time supply chains of retailers gearing up for the fall, back to school season.  Of course, many other industries would be negatively impacted as well if the port workers, longshoremen and others decided to walk off the job.  But those businesses reliant on imports coming through West Coast ports aren’t all resigned to suffer should the walk out occur and drag on for days or even weeks.  Those who’ve focused on improving processes and efficiency in transportation management using tools like transportation management systems and freight/route optimizers will have a better time coping with the disruption should it come to pass.

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“The real-time route modeling enabled by optimization tools will further ensure that efficient routing is still a top priority, even as companies scramble to locate other sources for the goods they need, in areas of the country they may not ordinarily ship to/from.”

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Now, this isn’t to say that a TMS solution will entirely eliminate the pain inflicted by a port closure.  However, with the tools in place and the visibility they provide into transportation planning, a TMS-using organization will certainly be able to quickly adapt as procurement personnel identify alternative channels for the raw materials shipping inbound to manufacturing facilities for example.  The real-time route modeling enabled by optimization tools will further ensure that efficient routing is still a top priority, even as companies scramble to locate other sources for the goods they need, in areas of the country they may not ordinarily ship to/from.

Bottom line is, the business environment is always finding new and scary curves to throw at companies.  The more control and visibility one has into the overall supply chain, the easier it will be to adapt and overcome.  Perhaps this is why industry analysts continue to be bullish on the TMS market which is projected to reach the $1.31 billion dollar mark by 2015.

 

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