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

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

This is not the only TMS to make such a claim: many TMS vendors market their platforms as a complete solution. But, in our experience in managing complex, high-volume transportation networks in a number of industries, no TMS lives up to this lofty claim, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. .

Valuing a TMS

A TMS forms the basis for the digitization of transport, but no single solution meets all the requirements of a typical transport network. There are almost always either gaps or opportunities to relieve 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 TMS to extend its value and make it easier to tailor transport technology to the specific needs of an organization. At DHL Supply Chain, our technology strategy is to increase our core TMS with complementary technologies where they can provide the most added value. The main opportunities are in the following areas:

  • Order management: When managing inbound transport, complementing the TMS with dedicated order management capabilities simplifies tasks such as manual order entry by external partners, validation of orders against POs and verification and enrichment of orders. Many TMS solutions have at least some of these capabilities, but they are not particularly customer friendly. Using an application dedicated to these functions provides a better experience for customers and can unlock optimization opportunities when multiple vendors are located close to each other.
  • Track and trace: Both senders and customers expect to be able to identify the location of a specific shipment at all times. This is often not possible through the TMS because event compliance is inconsistent. In addition, managing every event for every shipment is data intensive and can compromise TMS performance. A tracking and tracing microservice bridges event compliance gaps through standardized, repeatable integration and aggregation. The TMS only obtains the events necessary to optimize transport efficiency, while the Track and Trace application provides full visibility into every shipment to shippers and their customers.
  • Document management: TMS performance can also be optimized through a microservice that offloads the management of digital documents associated with shipments, from bills of lading to delivery verification. This can be achieved by scanning paper documents via mobile scan or capture, or via complete end-to-end digital documentations (eBOL).
  • Business Intelligence (BI): Cloud-based business intelligence solutions are another example of using dedicated technology optimized for a specific function rather than putting that load on the TMS. These services replace the spreadsheets traditionally used to monitor and manage the performance of operators and 3PLs. Instead of loading data into slideshows 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 conjunction 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 flows through third-party carriers. In addition to providing sophisticated route planning and driver management capabilities, a fleet management platform also provides better insight into fleet performance and enables more informed decisions on how and when to scale 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 the capacity to the loads available in the immediate vicinity of the capacity. Our transport specialists then examine 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 navigation.

Absorb complexity

As the emergence of microservices and other solutions that complement 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 expertise to manage this level of complexity. Fortunately, 3PLs, such as DHL Supply Chain, can protect shippers from the complexity inherent in today’s transportation technologies.

At DHL Supply Chain, we manage all aspects of the design, implementation and management of transportation technologies, from determining the combination of technologies that will provide the most value, to integrating those solutions for ensure that they function as a single platform to optimize 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 is becoming technically complex. But shippers don’t have to deal with this complexity. By working with DHL Supply Chain, they can take advantage of the full range of transportation technology solutions available today, while also enjoying 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 optimize the capabilities of your transportation management system, visit http://app.supplychain.dhl.com/e/er?s=1897772577&lid=6910.


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