Burden or Benefit? Transportation Automation Is Here to Stay

Transportation Automation
Shippers and logistics service providers (LSPs) continuously strive to find the best way to increase profitability and reduce overhead freight and transportation management expenses. Supply chain leaders leverage transportation automation technology to achieve these goals. Some shippers continue to conduct manual, repetitive processes, despite the capabilities and benefits of automation features within a transportation management system (TMS). Some shippers invest time, resources, and money to upgrade or implement their transportation management system only to find that they then need to assemble a large staff of highly trained people to now manage the TMS. When examining some traditional TMS solutions, it may seem that set-up requires a great deal of repetitive and manual actions to make it work. Isn’t this exactly what a TMS is supposed to eliminate?
It is evident that supply chain leaders need to know more about the reality of transportation automation features of a TMS.

Misconceptions of Transportation Automation

There are a few misconceptions that can lead organizations to make poor decisions and spend more than necessary to implement a TMS and leverage automation. Some key misconceptions include:
  • Training users to utilize automation in a TMS will require a lengthy and burdensome onboarding/implementation process.
  • Every TMS on the market functions similarly.
  • Carriers are reluctant to include themselves as a carrier option for shippers within the TMS.
  • Performing costly customizations and modifications will add value and are necessary to implement automation in a TMS, thereby maximizing resources and ROI.
Because these misconceptions seem to be far-reaching in the industry, it’s especially important for shippers to understand the reality and the benefits of transportation automation within a TMS.

Automated Transportation Management Benefits

Consider these real-world benefits of TMS implementation:
  • More time to focus on strategic freight management. Repetitive tactical processes are automated with the use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) features in the TMS.
  • Reduced logistics costs and better leverage of a shipper’s transportation resources.
  • Better management of complex exceptions. Transportation automation within a TMS will provide the ability to proactively respond to exceptions.
  • Optimized processes. Using EDI and API automates information transfers to ensure the proper routing and fastest resolution of exceptions.
  • Fewer opportunities for data errors and record-keeping problems. RPA reduces human error that can lead to increased costs by eliminating keystrokes.
  • Automatic data capture and analysis provides actionable insights to improve decision-making and yield preferred outcomes.
  • Efficient auditing of invoices and claims. When you’re dealing with thousands of weekly shipments, monitoring for errors in freight invoices or processing freight loss or damage claims can take a considerable amount of resources. Transportation automation features like RPA and machine learning catch invoice errors and help process claims efficiently, allowing you to recoup costs — ultimately impacting the bottom line.

Best Practices to Leverage Automation

Shippers who want to maximize the use and value of a TMS should follow these best practices, keeping the above-listed misconceptions and benefits in mind.
  1. Benchmark your processes to understand what is happening now and compare to the results seen from the TMS once automation features are in place.
  2. Integrate other technology systems to the TMS for seamless data flow.
  3. Leverage analytics to find new opportunities for lowering transportation spend and automating manual and repetitive processes.
  4. Invest in a cloud-based TMS. A cloud-based TMS has the computer power to include automation of the routing guide, management by exception, real-time insight, visibility into the ordering and shipment process, and improved communication with customers.
  5. Look at your redundant, manual process and apply automation to eliminate errors with intuitive workflows that hasten, not hamper your operation.
  6. Centralize controls with a reliable, disruption-free server, such as those used by MercuryGate.
  7. Use dashboarding to improve performance, measure carrier compliance, and notify carriers when problems arise.
  8. Recapture revenue through automated auditing and accounting, again leveraging analytics.
  9. Include employees outside the transportation department to understand the capabilities of the TMS and how the automation features may bring value to other department heads, such as more proactive customer service.
  10. Encourage like system use among supply chain partners, building rapport with your software vendor and also reducing challenges in onboarding for future users as well.

Reap the Rewards of Automation With MercuryGate

Transportation automation is not going anywhere and adoption rates will only increase e as shippers continue to realize the many benefits. Shippers and LSPs who find themselves needing to do more with less, should consider investing in a modern, robust TMS that has the power, the technology architecture, and the usability to leverage automation and reap the rewards. As stated in a previous blog post on the value of a TMS:
“TMS adoption rates continue to increase, and as new TMS automation capabilities, such as the use of multi-modal shipping models, arise, more shippers will turn to TMS.”
Do you want to know more about how automation could improve the use of your transportation resources?

Connect Today To Set Up A Demo With One Of Our Transportation Management Experts

Bob Davidek
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