When a TMS is not enough: managing the complexity of transport technologies

After a thorough review of all Transportation Management Systems (TMS) on the market, DHL Supply Chain has standardized on what we believe to be the most robust and capable solution available today. The marketing of this solution promises that it “provides a single platform for businesses to manage all transportation activities across their supply chains.”

It’s not the only TMS that makes such a claim – many TMS vendors market their platforms as a complete solution. But, based on our experience managing complex, high-volume transportation networks across a number of industries, no TMS lives up to that lofty claim – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. .

Improving the value of a TMS

A TMS forms the basis for digitizing transport, but no single solution meets all the requirements of a typical transport network. There are almost always gaps or opportunities to relieve the TMS of some non-essential, data-intensive functions that can compromise its ability to optimize freight flows.

This reality has led to the development of additional microservices and applications that integrate with the TMS to extend its value and make it easier to tailor transport technology to an organization’s specific requirements. At DHL Supply Chain, our technology strategy is to complement our core TMS with complementary technologies where they can add the most value. The main opportunities are in the following areas:

  • Order management: When managing inbound transportation, complementing the TMS with dedicated order management capabilities simplifies tasks such as manual order entry by external partners, validation of orders against purchase orders, and verification and enrichment some orders. Many TMS solutions have at least some of these features, but they aren’t particularly user-friendly. Using a dedicated app for these functions provides a better experience for customers and can unlock optimization opportunities when multiple vendors are located in close proximity to each other.
  • Track and Trace: Shippers and customers expect to be able to identify the location of a specific shipment at any time. This is often not possible through the TMS because event compliance is inconsistent. Additionally, managing every event for every shipment is data-intensive and can compromise TMS performance. A track and trace microservice closes the gaps in event compliance with standardized, repeatable integration and aggregation. The TMS receives only the events needed to optimize transportation efficiency while the track and trace application provides complete visibility into every shipment for shippers and their customers.
  • Document management: TMS performance can also be optimized with a microservice that offloads the management of digital documents associated with shipments, from bills of lading to delivery verification. This can be achieved by digitizing paper documents through mobile scanning or capture, or through complete end-to-end (eBOL) digital documentations.
  • Business Intelligence (BI): Cloud-based business intelligence solutions are another example of using dedicated technology optimized for a specific function rather than putting that burden on the TMS. These services replace the spreadsheets traditionally used to monitor and manage operator and 3PL performance. Instead of loading data into slides for weekly or monthly reviews, senders always have access to up-to-date performance data.
  • Solution design: Transportation network optimization tools apply sophisticated algorithms to large volumes of historical transportation data to quickly identify optimization opportunities and guide the development of solutions that address those opportunities. Using these tools compresses the solution design process and can identify opportunities that significantly reduce transportation costs.

Dedicated fleet management

When a dedicated fleet is part of the transportation solution, it often makes sense to deploy a dedicated fleet solution in concert with the TMS used to manage third-party carriers.

The specific functionality required to optimize a dedicated fleet is very different from that required to manage transport flow through third-party carriers. In addition to providing sophisticated route planning and driver management capabilities, a fleet management platform also provides greater insight into fleet performance and enables more informed decisions on how and when to develop the fleet.

Dedicated fleet solutions can also benefit from complementary technologies and microservices. This is especially true when managing the fleet to minimize empty miles. At DHL Supply Chain, we do this through a proprietary algorithm that dynamically matches capacity to available loads near capacity. Our transport specialists then review the available loads to ensure compatibility between supply and demand. Other services that support dedicated fleet management are off-road fuel guidance, asset management, electronic registration for compliance, and commercial shipping.

Absorbent complexity

While the emergence of microservices and other complementary solutions to TMS create new opportunities to reduce transportation costs and improve service levels, they also bring increased complexity to transportation management.

Few organizations have the resources or the expertise to handle this level of complexity. Fortunately, 3PLs, such as DHL Supply Chain, can insulate shippers from the complexity inherent in today’s transportation technology.

At DHL Supply Chain, we manage all aspects of transport technology design, implementation and management, from determining the mix of technologies that will deliver the most value to integrating these solutions to ensure they operate as a single platform by optimizing the capabilities of each component of the platform. Although there is a lot of complexity on the “back-end”, our customers never have to deal with it. They get everything they need to manage performance and serve customers through an easy-to-use single sign-on interface called MySupplyChain.

Transport management becomes technically complex. But shippers don’t have to struggle with this complexity. By working with DHL Supply Chain, they can take advantage of the full range of transportation technology solutions available today, while reaping the benefits of a single, integrated platform that delivers the information they need when they need it. need.


To learn more about how DHL Supply Chain can help you maximize the capabilities of your transport management system, visit http://app.supplychain.dhl.com/e/er?s=1897772577&lid= 6910.

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