What Your TMS Should Provide

3PL Perspectives

THE TRANSPORTATION AND logistics world is abuzz with the need for ever stronger and more diverse transportation management systems (TMS). This is apparently true for small and large shippers alike. And in today’s world of diverse rates worldwide shipping operations, both inbound and outbound, the need grows stronger each year.

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So, what should a viable TMS solutions be able to provide?

  1. Select the lowest cost carrier for that particular shipment, mode and accessorials (rating engine).
  2. Should also indicate service level to further allow an accurate choice.
  3. Consolidate multiple shipments onto a strong drop load or pool distribution network if needed and possibly from the data that day. (optimization)
  4. If needed, create the bill of lading for the shipping point (be it an inbound vendor or outbound shipping department) and consolidate multiple orders for the same day and destination.
  5. Dispatch shipments to the appropriate carrier (tendering/booking)
  6. Confirm the pick-up will be, or has been made, with the right carrier (tracking violations)
  7. Start tracking the location of the shipments from the moment it is picked up to delivery.
  8. Verify the invoice received or produced by the carrier is accurate.
  9. Apply the correct account coding information on that shipment (use for accruals).
  10. Produce reports to management on trends, totals, or freight carrier (by product, by class, by locations).
  11. Send reports automatically to anyone designated in the company or into an ERP system.

Anything less than the functionality listed would shortchange the retailer or manufacturer against what is possible and available from some of the best TMS providers. A database of consignees or vendors should also be retained to reduce the amount of time needed for entry and carrier/rate selection, as well as historical information, so that special accessorials associated with a particular destination would be known in advance.

There should be no limitation in the use of rate tariffs. Each the carrier should not be forced to use a tariff that they do not want to use. Fuel surcharge should be fully loaded with automatic weekly updates per government changes in the fuel cost factor.

Robert Walters is the President and CEO of Freight Management Incorporated. FMI is a full-service freight logistics company with advanced data management and online reporting capabilities, offering Business Intelligence (BI) reporting as well as customized reporting and services.