Intelligent TMS: Make more informed decisions with data

Trucks driving on the highway

How can you make better decisions with data from an intelligent TMS? Easily harvested, reliable data is always an essential component of excellent decision-making in business.

Today, many small- and medium-sized trucking firms work in a competitive and increasingly complex freight and regulatory environment. They especially need quality data to thrive: It helps guide them far beyond making the best decisions for quoting loads. It helps them become a learning organization that can proactively choose the best way to run and build their businesses.

But many small- and medium-sized carriers lack an IT department, have limited technology budgets, and employ disparate, disconnected systems—from accounting systems, document scanning tools to mobile applications.

What other factors drive their bottom line?

Consider this scenario at a small carrier: A dispatcher considers sending a load to a specific driver. But unbeknownst to him, the truck may be due for maintenance. Or there may be other operational costs involved with running this vehicle.

In the end, operations may know the revenue on that load. But what is the actual load profit vis-à-vis the total cost of the freight as it moves or waits at a dock or in limbo along the road, given unforeseen circumstances?

Using data from an intelligent TMS for operational and fixed costs insights and right-side-up freight quotes

As a carrier today, it’s imperative to avoid being upside down when you deliver a quote. You don’t want to discover surprise detention costs, hidden accessorials, and the like. To implement a strategy for better results, consider:

Selecting an easily implemented system that will help you specifically

Given the accessibility and affordability of new technology, understand what you should expect and look for in functionality. Look for a system that fits your business model—one that doesn’t require an IT team to get it rolling, and you can implement for just dollars a day.

Integrating operation data with market intelligence

In this way, you can understand your overall costs.

Factoring in real-world constraints and ETAs

By running scenarios factoring loads, origins/destinations, hours-of-service (HOS) requirements, and real-world ETAs, you’ll begin to see how your assigned drivers’ current and future load routes mesh with your plan, KPIs, and overall business plan. The goal is better predictability around your drivers, so you can develop a step-by-step plan defining where they need to go for their pickups and deliveries and enabling them to automatically stay compliant with their HOS requirements. The revenue might look good for a load. But you’ll be able to address questions like: Am I going into an area where I can do a reload? Can I get out of that area? Do I need to pick something up? Is there traffic? Is there volume coming out of the area, or am I sending this driver into a black hole with zero backhaul? An intelligent TMS system could provide those insights.

Gaining visibility for better operations, better planning, and increased profit

When you run what-if scenarios through technology to understand if you should expand your network or expand your driver network from a location or just from a fleet perspective, it can also help you crunch data against negotiated contracts. A successful TMS solution will help you maximize your driver utilization, understand your network and ask and answer questions like: Do I need to expand my network? Do I need to expand my lane network? Do I need to expand my fleet size, number of drivers, or do I need to reduce them? Can I run with fewer trucks and still keep those wheels turning and make them happy and get them home on time?

Real-time optimization

The presence of so many elements impacting each quote’s success means it’s nearly impossible to translate data into day-to-day or a minute-to-minute plan. Real-time optimization lets you crunch your data. And while it’s never possible to fully automate, an 80% optimization output is reasonable.

Understanding those fixed operational costs can help you to assign the best load for your drivers. Conversely, if you want to find the best driver for a load, you might have a load that you have to take. It’s a negotiated contract you have with the shipper, and you have to run those lanes, but you have drivers that are moving all around, and they’re taking contracted freight and part spot.

Ultimately, the right technology will help you quickly understand your best options and flexibility to take action every day and gain a clear sense of how your interrelated actions impact your business and its success.

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