Good transportation management is critical for keeping your shipments moving according to schedule. Unfortunately, digital disruption, labor shortages, and political unrest impact the sector, and tried-and-true methods are beginning to lose their effectiveness. Finding ways to incorporate new processes and technologies into operations will be the key for most transportation businesses to stay competitive moving forward.
It's easy to get transportation management (TM) confused with logistics and supply chain management, but the three are different disciplines within the same overarching practice.
More specifically, transportation management is the component of supply chain management that involves tracking and managing everything to do with your transportation operations, such as managing warehouse inventory and planning delivery routes. It's an essential discipline for ensuring shipments arrive on time in compliance with the appropriate regulations.
You don't have to make major changes to improve your transportation management strategies. You can begin by finding ways to get the most out of your existing resources.
From inclement weather to inventory shortages, events happen that can throw your shipments off track. How you respond to these situations can determine whether a shipment arrives a day or a week late.
Taking the time to plan appropriate responses for these incidents can help minimize delays so you can keep operations moving. For example, you might have a shipment going through a flood-prone area. Finding backup routes and training your drivers on what to do in a flooding emergency is essential for keeping both your drivers and their cargo safe.
Automation and artificial intelligence can be incredibly helpful when used correctly. Automated and AI-powered software solutions can help you gain greater visibility into your operations by accurately tracking vehicle and inventory movements in real time.
AI algorithms can also help prevent unexpected breakdowns by monitoring vehicle conditions and proactively scheduling maintenance and repair services. This capability reduces unplanned downtime, optimizes your fleet utilization, and ensures timely deliveries.
“Big data” is a catch-all term that refers to large amounts of data, which a company may process in its daily operations. As more organizations embark on digital transformation journeys, big data is becoming increasingly important as a key tool for business decision-makers — after all, the more insight you have into your everyday operations, the more informed decisions you can make.
In the transportation sector, modern TMS software collects a lot of data from many sources. Analyzing all that data is essential for improved transportation efficiency. A good TMS will provide advanced analytics capabilities so you can get the most out of your operational data. Even better, data visualization tools make interpreting data easier for everyone, so all your decision-makers can get involved.
From your drivers to your back office staff, your team is what makes effective and efficient transportation happen. You need to hire the best people, but you also need to train and retain them to really succeed.
That goes for employees at every level of your organization, including managers and leadership. Promoting a culture of continuous improvement can motivate your staff to push your operations to the next level and foster greater loyalty to your company.
One common problem many transportation companies face is a disconnect between their drivers and their back office teams. Trust and communication can easily break down, which usually results in information silos that get in the way of effective collaboration.
The key here is to build a unified company culture that emphasizes everyone's value to the team. If you're unsure where to start with developing your company culture, you can always rely on your human resources department.
Big data is also important for getting a good look at how well your company performs. Are you meeting customer service expectations? Are you delivering shipments on time, or do you run into preventable delays?
Regular performance evaluations can help you identify where you're most likely to experience inefficiencies — which in turn will help you come up with ways to improve.
Several key metrics to track include:
An advanced transportation management system can track all these key performance indicators and more, enabling you to get the most accurate view of your operations as a whole.
You may be wondering how transportation management can be improved beyond your existing resources. If you're still using paper documents or a legacy transportation management system (TMS), it's time to switch to a modern version.
Look for a system with advanced features like:
Further, a cloud-based solution can help you save valuable time and energy by providing complete connectivity and visibility across your entire supply chain.
If you need advanced transportation management software, you can trust ShipERP to deliver. Our advanced TMS solution offers seamless integration into your existing SAP ERP system so you can get started improving your operations with minimal downtime.
ShipTM is our comprehensive transportation management solution within ShipERP. With complete visibility into all your shipments and process automation, ShipTM streamlines transportation management for timely domestic and international shipping.