Modern-Day Romance: How TMS Technology Plays Cupid


Bob Davidek | 3GTMS

In the late 1980s, Microsoft Excel replaced legal pads, notebooks and Rolodexes as the go-to product for brokers to use when managing carrier relationships. But the newfound spreadsheets did not solve the recurring data problems that were causing distrust between brokers and carriers.

ID: 1123844516; Olga_968/>The inaccuracy and timeliness of data was putting a strain on their relationships. Information that brokers received from carriers often came in after the fact. A missed pickup or delivery appointment, for example, set in motion a reactive process of communication.

Today, broker-carrier relationships have a new paradigm with the advancements in modern-day transportation management software (TMS). The technology sits in the middle of freight transactions to give both parties real-time visibility and a single version of the truth.

In this new model of data sharing, TMS systems make it impossible for broker-carrier partners to be unfaithful to each other, at least not without them knowing in advance.

Managing Performance

TMS systems can house all of the information brokers need to know about carriers to manage their performance, which is the foundation of successful relationships.

When selecting a carrier for a spot transaction, or on a contractual basis, brokers can monitor real-time performance of loads in transit. For carriers with longer-term contracts, a broker can use a dashboard in its TMS to monitor load acceptance and rejection ratios, on-time performance, and other metrics to ensure carriers are keeping their commitments.

Just because the transportation industry is in a tight capacity situation does not mean brokers should be tempted to lower their standards to procure capacity. On the contrary, TMS systems help brokers maintain relationships with valued carriers by proactively monitoring for signs of declining performance and expiring qualifications.

A broker can act quickly to give the carrier ample opportunities to understand where improvement is needed to avoid a breakup. If an important carrier qualification is expiring, such as an insurance coverage, a TMS can alert the broker to proactively resolve the situation.

Managing the accuracy and timeliness of proof-of-delivery (POD) documents is another important function since many brokers do not pay carriers before they receive a signed POD. Modern TMS systems can integrate with various mobile apps carriers use to automatically receive PODs, usually within minutes of delivery, to accelerate the billing and payment process for both parties.

With enough load volume, a broker can use TMS technology to optimize the loads it offers to carriers and give its partners consistent two-way traffic.

Private Networks

In a market of tight capacity, TMS systems are helping brokers to draw closer to their core carriers by using private spot market exchanges.

Private exchanges can be in the form of phone calls, EDI, websites or direct integration with carrier TMS systems. A broker may need to use all of these communication methods to stay connected with carriers depending on their individual preferences and sophistication levels.

Private exchanges give a broker’s core carriers first right of refusal for freight matching. With enough load volume, a broker can use TMS technology to optimize the loads it offers to carriers and give its partners consistent two-way traffic.

Business intelligence (BI) tools have expanded the capabilities of brokers to share data and insights with carriers. Brokers can add BI to private freight exchanges and give carriers data visualizations to help them search for loads that best meet their needs.

Similarly, a broker can use modern TMS technology and BI tools to give shipper customers a unique experience to search for capacity and to more quickly respond to business opportunities.

Faster Cycles

Shipper expectations and competition in the market continue to add pressure on brokers to collapse their logistics cycle time. The cycle begins the moment a broker is offered a load and ends with an on-time delivery.

Modern TMS systems give brokers the means to quickly find capacity at competitive rates and build schedules that satisfy their customer requirements. Many steps of the logistics cycle can be automated to reduce cost and increase productivity.

One of the most important steps in automation is meeting the track-and-trace requirements of shippers. This can be done through TMS integration with the telematics system of carriers and third-party freight visibility providers.

As soon as exceptions are found, such as a load that is running behind schedule, the broker and shipper can be proactively notified to begin working on solutions.

Technology has removed the barriers that traditionally have limited brokers and carriers from taking their relationships to the next level. Trust issues have all but disappeared by using TMS systems as a common data and communications platform to provide a single version of the truth.

Bob Davidek is Solutions Principal, 3GTMS, Trimble Transportation. He can be reached at [email protected] or 440-721-2153.

Terms of Endearment
In strengthening bonds between carriers and brokers for greater freight visibility, here are some common words and phrases with which to research and familiarize yourself:
Private Exchanges – channels of communication
SVOT – Single Version of the Truth
BI – Business Intelligence tools and applications

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