Transport Management System, or TMS, are systems that help move your cargo from point A to point B in the most efficient way. It doesn’t matter if the transport is from China to Alaska, or from Miami to Orlando in Florida, or if the fleet assets are owned by you or an external provider, transportation costs and times can always be optimized at small and large scales - and this is what a TMS is for.
There are several areas in which TMS can help businesses:
- Customer service improvement
- Inventory reductions
- Warehouse efficiency
- Cash flow improvements
- Innovative delivery solutions
The offer of TMS in the US market is rich and flexible for different company sizes. Therefore, you will need to do some research to find the system that better adapts to your specific needs.
Luckily, some freight forwarders provide their clients with monitoring tools that go beyond the normal “track and trace” IT solutions, resembling more the benefits of a TMS. Their monitoring tools offer supply chain optimization via web-based visibility, collaboration, and information management. This means that you might be able to monitor your shipments in detail 24/7, control your inventory, forecast your supply, create just-in-time strategies, and many other possibilities.
Perhaps, these IT solutions provided by freight forwarders might imply additional fees. But there is a basic monitoring option that most forwarders can offer you, as part of their full TMS: visibility. Yes, the simplicity of knowing where your cargo is makes a difference, but you need immediate access to it, just like it is possible with the parcel companies such as USPS, FedEx, DHL and the rest. Not all forwarders have this kind of visibility options, and therefore you find yourself calling or emailing for shipment status.
But, how can you benefit from the shipment details available in monitoring tools? Below you can find two examples:
- Real-time and estimated departures and arrivals: this helps to keep control of your plans, and to adjust whenever there is a change in your shipments. Perhaps, a delay in an airfreight shipment might lead you to make a decision to change the warehouse of delivery based on your urgent orders or possible backorders.
- Ship names and voyage numbers: If your cargo comes from China and it’s crossing the Pacific Ocean while a heavy storm is affecting the traffic area, there will be delays. You can find out specific details about the journey of your goods in the water when you know the ship name and the voyage number because with those details you can trace it in the shipping line’s website or in other websites such as Marine Traffic. The same applies to airlines and flight numbers in websites such as FlightAware.
The more details you have about your shipment, the more use can be made for your business benefit. Talk to you forwarder to explore the visibility options they offer and find out if they also provide with a TMS. Forwarders who offer TMS have developed the solution for all their clients, so this might be more cost-effective than sourcing it on your own with IT companies.