It’s Time to Squeeze the Efficiency from Logistics with TMS

The low-hanging fruit has all been harvested by shippers using TMS and other logistics IT solutions increase efficiency and save costs in transportation.  Better visibility into rates, routes, equipment availability and such has helped those shippers using TMS to exert much greater control over spend.  However, all leading indicators point toward a very tough environment ahead.  So, how’s a shipper supposed to overcome the structural obstacles to cost-effective, efficient transportation logistics beyond what he’s already doing with his TMS?

First, the bad news.   Transport Topics reports, “American Trucking Association predicts that freight volumes across all modes will grow by 2.8% this year and then 3.4% per year on average through 2023, according to the organization’s just-released Freight Transportation Forecast, 2017-2028.”  While this is a positive harbinger for business overall, it suggests tighter capacity and a rising freight rate environment as demand for transportation outstrips supply.  As reported here at the Supply Chain Collaborator, spot market rates are already at or near two-year highs. And, let’s not forget our reporting on the very real potential for the Looming Capacity Nightmare driven by the effects of the ELD mandate and other factors.


With the obvious savings already captured, smart shippers turn their focus to the areas where many small savings opportunities can be discovered and captured to impressive, cumulative effect.  Minutes add up to hours and pennies add up to dollars!

Now, the good news! There are plenty of things TMS users can do to find hidden pockets of savings and undiscovered efficiencies using the tools they already have in place (especially if they have UltraShipTMS tools in place).  Think of these strategies as next level TMS utilization.  Deploying TMS to replace green screen systems or spreadsheet management of transportation provides quick results.  Just the act of automating tendering and carrier management processes – along with the corresponding boost in visibility – helps a shipper capture the easy savings in year one and two.  But once those efficiency and productivity gains are made, it can feel like there’s no more benefit to be captured.

Luckily, that’s simply not true!  UltraShipTMS is known for helping shippers go “Beyond TMS” in many ways.  One such way is with the Advanced Scheduling functionality offered for shippers with mature programs (although it works just as well with new implementations as well).  More precise scheduling, if it saves 30 minutes on every pick and drop, can accumulate into significant operational efficiency and savings.

Automation of pickup and delivery scheduling for shipments inbound between vendors and shippers, and/or outbound between the shipper and the shippers’ customers allows drivers to spend more of their daily hours of service moving freight instead of waiting to load or unload.   It also supports improved customer service which leads to increased business volume.  Accurate dock door/bay scheduling quickens throughput in the yard and again, keeps drivers’ wheels turning during their work  period.

Advanced Scheduling also allows carriers to enter appointments or to update existing appointments triggering an alert in the TMS so transportation planners are aware of all scheduled and re-scheduled appointments.  A Shipment Timeline Visualizer alerts planners to inevitable delays and recalculates ETA of downstream picks/drops to increase efficiency further.   Advanced Scheduling even supports improved on-time reporting, superior communication between transportation stakeholders, and tighter controls over assessorial spend in such areas as detention fees and stop charges.

With the obvious savings already captured, smart shippers turn their focus to the areas where many small savings opportunities can be discovered and captured to impressive, cumulative effect.  Minutes add up to hours and pennies add up to dollars!