As the lines of global trade become more interconnected and expansive, transportation managements systems have evolved. Remote and cloud-based hosting has replaced on-site software, while transportation management systems have become integrated into the end-to-end supply chain web.
Whether they’re shipping via ground or ocean, FCL or LTL freight, importer-exporters have come to rely on transportation management systems to plan routes and find carriers. The most sophisticated systems even incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Transportation management systems have become so popular, the market for them is expected to double over the next 5 years.
Source: Material Handling & Logistics
New agile cloud-based transportation management systems may help to level the playing field for small and medium-size businesses, who previously couldn’t afford upgrading on-site software systems.
Importer-exporters continue to have many options for booking FCL and LTL freight, and transportation management systems might help enable the next wave of logistics innovation.
What is a transportation management system?
Like many tools in the shipping business, transportation management systems have existed in one form or another throughout the industry’s history. In its most basic form, a transportation management system gives importer-exporters a way to track available shipping lines and carriers.
Modern transportation management systems are computer software systems that help logistics professionals make decisions about which carriers and lines to use for their inbound and outbound shipments. With some systems, they can also find more specific information such as rates and exact timelines for their FCL or LTL freight.
Often a transportation management system is part of a larger supply chain system infrastructure, “sitting” between warehouse management systems and other in-house productivity tools. The systems interact with one another to streamline movement of goods across the supply chain.
Cloud-based transportation management systems
As most industries turn to digitization of data and automation of tasks, much of the infrastructure and systems that support these features exist on the cloud, “living” online instead of on-site.
On-site transportation management systems are still utilized, installed locally on a computer or shared server. Other transportation management systems exist solely in the cloud, accessed through a login portal, and some systems are on-site/cloud hybrids.
Cloud-based transportation management systems provide many benefits, not least of which is being able to store digital logistics records securely online from FCL, LTL freight and all shipments. Also, cloud-based transportation management systems can often give importer-exporters a ways to access carrier rates and current options.
Perhaps the biggest bonus of transportation management systems that exist online is their ability to be regularly updated to accommodate new user needs and the incorporation of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
AI and machine learning tools help importer-exporters get insights into data about their supply chain activity, then assist in creating greater efficiencies in shipping, tracking and future planning for all FCL and LTL freight.
Embedded into transportation management systems and pulling various data from online sources, these revolutionary tools apply science to what was once accomplished only through experience and arduous record-keeping.
In the future, the industry will look toward cloud-based transportation management systems that incorporate blockchain technology. This will enable importer-exporters to maintain an indelible online record of supply chain transactions, consolidating and simplifying communication and payment channels.