Next Stops: Collaboration, Load Optimization And On-Demand Services
Where is the TMS market heading and what are customers asking for in next-generation TMS solutions? True collaboration is the next level, says Pete Stiles at LeanLogistics Inc. "The key element will be all about managing the extended enterprise, from the supplier on the inbound through the carrier to the customer on the outbound. You will need to manage across multiple companies and that takes a network that everyone has access to."
Carl Melville at Total Logistics Control agrees. "By collaborating with other trading partners, you can optimize your loads. You might work with certain carriers on one component and with your other trading partners on something else, thereby driving more value through collaboration. This involves multiple shippers with the goal of achieving continuous moves, which is difficult.
"So by moving TMS from a silo architecture to a collaborative one, both within your company and among your trading partners, you can collaborate online with other shippers, carriers, and business trading partners to lower your costs."
George Abernathy at Transplace believes every shipper desires a ‘glass pipeline' extending from China throughout their distribution networks. "Having the visibility all the way to the final destination is something that is yet to be delivered, but we are at the forefront of getting there."
Foodservice and grocery fright is unique in its complexity and can be challenging to manage effectively, notes Peter Rappe at BGI International. "TMS products should provide not only the right tools to streamline the processes, but also help distributors identify, analyze, and capture every revenue-generating opportunity available. Our TMS helped customers add as much as one-half of 1 percent of gross sales to their revenues."
Controlling costs is where the market is heading, says Brennan Haverstock at HK Systems. "Yes, TMS is about reducing your costs through optimizing each shipment, but it's also about what the labor impacts are and what the overall business issues are going to be and resolving those."
John Riske at Next Generation Logistics believes more development will be required on the carrier side of the community, especially in the refrigerated and frozen food segment. "This is a whole different world, since their operating ratios are so different from those of the dry carriers. There are fewer carriers in this marketplace and therefore they don't have the investment dollars for technology so it's more difficult to manage the refrigerated and frozen carrier community. Web-enable tools will help them get that visibility and will help them communicate and collaborate with their partners."
Lorne Jones at Sterling Commerce adds: "All indications are on-demand––or what the industry calls software as a service––is the next level. Integrating carriers with shippers and consignees is one of those networked kinds of environments that play well into on-demand." —A.T.