Supply Chain Survey Underscores the Benefit of TMS Solutions

Are businesses predicting an increase or decrease in shipments in 2017?  What services did shippers used in 2016 compared to 2015? Were there issues with capacity, and did they lead to more delays in 2016?  What were the top transportation challenges of 2016? How do shippers expect the new White House administration to impact international supply chains in 2017?  These probing questions and more were part of the North American Supply Chain Survey to which more than 2,200 shippers responded.  Read more to get insight into what shippers expect to experience in 2017 and how shippers can prepare to respond.

The North American Supply Chain Survey, produced by Averitt Express yielded the following interesting data points.


  • The percentage of shippers expecting an increase in shipping volume for 2017 rose from 68% in last year’s survey to 73% this year – a gain of 5%.
  • Those expecting volumes to decline decreased from 3% to 2%.
  • Shippers planning to move freight over the rails decreased to 16% from 20% a year earlier and an eye-popping 73% confirmed they were not planning to utilize railroads as part of the supply chain plans in 2017.

All this data points to an increase in market share for over-the-road trucking and multimodal carriers.  It also suggests there continues to be fairly radical swings in mode selection among shippers, likely caused by rapidly changing conditions (such as fuel costs, regulatory changes, etc.).  There is a TMS corollary to these figures but first, a few more interesting nuggets of data from the survey.


  • 57% of those polled said they were unsure of the effects President Trump’s actions would have on international trade (and by extension, shipping).
  • Rate increases and on-time service levels were rated as top concerns by 38% and 39% respectively.


So the relevance to TMS?  Here it is!  TMS solutions are the most useful piece of technology for addressing the issues revealed by the shippers responding to this survey.  If nothing else, the survey reveals that shippers expect there to be significant changes in 2017 in terms of how freight is moved.  This means there will be changes in capacity among the modes finding favor and those falling out of favor.  TMS tools together with optimization engines are exceptionally useful when it comes to mode selection and cost-effective transportation planning.

There is also a significant concern about the efficacy and efficiency of carriers as evidenced by the numbers citing rate increases and service levels as important factors for the year ahead.  Again, TMS platforms provide shippers with the visibility and controls needed to benchmark rates and monitor on-time performance among carriers.  Using these two features, shippers can hedge against overpaying and actively manage carriers to ensure higher on-time percentages.

Add to the mix, the uncertainty posed by a new administration that has begun taking strident action regarding trade policy, and it is clear that shippers will need to be as flexible as they can when it comes to planning and executing transportation plans.  TMS tools enable quick adjustments to transportation plans should there be radical changes to how products are imported and exported into and out of the US.  Are you confident your current TMS is up to the task?



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