TMS solutions attempt to minimize or eliminate common pain points, notes John Riske, director of business development at Next Generation Logistics in Inverness, IL. "The two most costly components to any company include poor carrier selection and lack of building load consolidation to minimize miles. What's causing issues in the marketplace today involves the retailers of the world, whose HOS and delivery windows are complicating things. Many systems out there are trying to adapt to and accommodate these issues."
Jones at Sterling Commerce says some companies need help in transportation management, but may not have been able to afford a solution to suit their needs. "We think we found a strong niche in our on-demand TMS solution." He adds another challenge has been creating carrier connectivity. "It's something you don't think about until you begin to implement. Our system is preconfigured with a hub of 6,500 carriers and the probability your carrier is in the network is very high."
Inbound management: Supplier In-bound Management (SIM) is LeanLogistics' inbound component of its on-demand, Web-based TMS product. "This is one of the hottest things in the industry," says Stiles. Instead of filing a PO with a supplier and then relying on the supplier to deliver the order, a company can request the supplier to advise when the shipment is ready for pickup by the company.
"Generally it's cheaper this way because larger organizations have more buying power––but, most important is the visibility and dependability of your inbound," explains Stiles. "So you can control the inventory to exactly when you need it. This is particularly important to food retailers when they are running a promotion and they need assurance they have the goods in their DC to be distributed in time for the promotion." Customers can choose from a range of components including procurement, mode and carrier planning, execution management, settlement, visibility, and business intelligence.
Handling surges: Transplace TMS is a Web-based on-demand hosted solution customers and their trading partners have access to. "The food industry is unique in its surges; for example, Cott Beverage has a fairly significant challenge in its surge times between Memorial Day and Labor Day," explains Abernathy.
"They utilize our technology to find cost-effective additional capacity while continuing to deliver the service levels their customers expect. When Cott surges 20 percent to 30 percent in volume, they don't want to pay expedited rates or deal with expedited carriers to find capacity."
Finding capacity used to involve phone, people, and faxes, says Abernathy. "But we can do that with intelligent transportation management tools to find the right blend of service and cost." Orders entered into Transplace TMS are immediately visible to the customer, its trading partners, and its DCs. "We have a customer that shipped 1/2 million shipments last year and about 17 million EDI transactions occurred, or between 10 and 25 EDI transactions per shipment," explains Abernathy. "Those 17 million EDI message sets probably would have cost our customer between $200,000 and $350,000 if they were not utilizing our AS2 technology."
Web tendering: BGI's Web-Tendering Module on TMS-2000 creates a communications portal between the shipper and carrier, enabling critical load information to be shared quickly and securely, explains Rappe. "When our customers create loads within TMS, the system helps select the right carrier, automatically notifying the carrier of the load tender which the carrier can accept or decline via the Web. The carrier can also provide important load status updates including pickup and delivery times. Progressive Tendering is an option allowing customers to create load plans that are re-tendered to carrier B should carrier A reject a load tender."
BGI also offers SmartDock.NET, a Web-based dock scheduling solution. "It's a great communication enabler between procurement, warehouse operations, and the carrier," notes Rappe. The system provides carrier and vendor performance tracking and reporting and the increased visibility along the supply chain helped customers reduce receiving labor costs by about 15 percent to 20 percent, Rappe adds.