10 TMS Capabilities for Usability and Best Supply Chain Visibility

TMS capabilities support supply chain visibility and usability in any location.

Not every transportation management system platform provides true visibility and usability across every supply chain operation. Without sufficient TMS capabilities, transportation network partners struggle to maintain awareness and execute activities across a freight shipment’s life cycle.

“Ask analysts to name the most important development in supply chain technology in 2021, and they will likely say something about visibility,” reports Inbound Logistics. “A host of disruptions over the past two years underscored the need for companies to know the status of their shipments in real time.”

Real-time shipment visibility is just one piece in the overall transportation management puzzle. The ability to act based on information within your system is just as vital. Let’s examine the 10 TMS capabilities you need from a transportation management platform with global reach.

1. Dynamic Process Improvement Powered by Your TMS

Flexible modeling and shipment processing supports ongoing process improvement when users can quickly access relevant information and reporting. Such information helps model subsequent systems and workflows, reducing delays during implementation.
At the same time, easy-to-use features enable customizable workflows and dashboards that meet the unique needs of each company. The interface focuses on building up your company’s logistics capabilities, not requiring adherence to a predefined rule set or process.

2. Broad Freight Capacity Assistance

Greater freight capacity assistance allows shippers and logistics service providers (LSPs) to understand and better plan for changes in the available capacity.

Paired with analytics, TMS capabilities within the platform enable proactive identification of potential capacity shortages. Further, this visibility targets opportunities to use any available capacity to lower total freight spend.

The platform predicts capacity needs on an ongoing basis. Additionally, by connecting to digital load boards, the platform capabilities improve load matching and reduce costs on freight that’s not moving.

3. Freight Market Rate Index

A freight market rate index analyzes freight management contracts and provides access to transportation rates across modes within a single platform.

When shippers and LSPs access a broad base of rate information, end customers lower transportation costs. Meanwhile, the rate information accessible within the platform itself allows continuous comparative cost validation and ensures all users get the best rate possible.

MercuryGate TMS capabilities include a market rate index that analyzes more than $60 billion worth of freight management contracts. Inside the platform, users can leverage 300% more rate data than they can access in existing freight indices.

4. TMS Optimization of Route, Rate and Processes

Combining the triad of transportation route, rate, and process optimization augments business performance, giving users a birds’ eye-view of global logistics operations and opportunities for improvement.
With TMS capabilities offering ongoing optimization and review of routes, rates, and processes, you know that each freight shipment will be on the best possible course.

5. Omnimodal TMS Capabilities

Omnimodal shipping refers to the ability to execute and track transportation across multiple modes, without repeating the entire freight scheduling and management process at each step.

Retailers work tirelessly to support customers’ “shop anywhere, anytime” demands, and the supply chain must enable that expectation in its logistics. Accessing and managing all modes at once, combining them where appropriate, and moving seamlessly between modes effectively reduces delays and freight costs.
Instead of relying on multiple transportation management systems, users achieve a “one-and-done” approach to shipment-specific scheduling and management.

6. TMS Automation of Exception Management

Exception automation allows users to handle changes or unforeseen freight occurrences without disruption through automated processes. This reduces the time spent managing freight.

Prioritization of exceptions offers additional advantages within a TMS platform. This can be especially critical when managing time-sensitive transportation in pharmaceutical and food supply chains. Shippers use advanced functions to prioritize reroutes or other changes according to the needs of receiving parties and the shipper.

7. TMS Capabilities to Build Dynamic Rule Sets

Dynamic rule sets in the TMS mirror advantages offered in exception automation, but these rules apply to all freight management activities, not just exceptions.
Automated tendering and scheduling with dynamic rule sets allow shippers to “set it and forget it” – even for the most complex freight moves. Similar TMS processes can be applied to handle changes in available capacity by tendering to additional carriers, including those operating in the most significant portion of the fleet market: small, private operators with five or fewer trucks.

8. Embedded Parcel in TMS Capabilities Platform

Customers order from any location. With the need to consolidate and deconsolidate shipments to lower freight costs, parcel shipping is necessary. Many TMS platforms require shippers to consult different systems and work with additional third parties to coordinate parcel shipments.
TMS capabilities that capture all transportation modes natively in one environment, including parcel freight management, reduce the burden for shippers scheduling parcel shipments. Furthermore, when appropriate, users can use parcel management to handle inbound and reverse logistics freight as well.

9. Comprehensive Carrier Management

When it comes to carrier management, shippers have a mountain of responsibilities.
How often did the carrier deliver on time? Will the carrier get freight to its destination without damage? What are the processes for handling damage and lost cargo claims? The questions can be endless.
Shippers and logistics service providers can integrate carrier management within the same TMS. As a result, the risk declines for missed deliveries and incomplete data.
External reporting tools further ensure information is up to date. And as changes occur immediately review their carriers’ statuses across the global supply chain, shippers can review their carriers’ statuses immediately. Settlement and claims management in the same suite of TMS capabilities closes the shipment cycle with complete visibility.

10. Fleet Management

For shippers operating in-house fleets, fleet management tools are essential to keeping in-house costs below the costs of outsourcing. For logistics service providers, fleet management resources are just as invaluable in supporting efforts to manage drivers, equipment, and operations.

Fleet management capabilities include mobile platforms for real-time tracking, ongoing status updates, improved route monitoring and management, and remote tendering.

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TMS Capabilities to Modernize Your Supply Chain

Investment in a transportation management system should yield measurable value to your business. Ultimately, the capabilities within your TMS determine the limits for what the technology can deliver.
TMS functionality can provide complete visibility across your supply chain. The right management technology platform supports the execution and management of transportation activities.

Read our eBook, TMS 101, to learn more about benefits accessed through a scalable TMS and the proven value of a leading transportation management platform.

Make sure your TMS delivers business value.


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