If you’re not already making full use of the data generated by your transportation management systems, here are 12 ways that you can start leveraging the data produced by this important supply chain management platform.
The world is producing data at an astounding rate. The entire digital universe is expected to reach 44 zettabytes this year, and by 2025 an estimated 463 exabytes of data (the equivalent of 212,765,957 DVDs) will be created every day around the world.
At least some of that data volume can be credited to transportation management systems (TMS) and other platforms that are running global supply chains.
Whether they’re providing visibility into a company’s transportation operations, helping companies select the best carrier, ensuring the timely delivery of freight, or managing trade compliance information, TMS gathers and produces a large volume of data—information that can be used both to address problems and make better decisions.
12 Ways to Use Your TMS Data
If your company isn’t making full use of this fountain of information, here are 12 ways that it can start better leveraging the data produced by this important supply chain management platform:
- Pinpoint and fix inaccuracies. Unlike manual systems and spreadsheets, TMS provides a 360-degree view of a company’s transportation activities. This makes finding and fixing errors much easier than if you had to review multiple different systems and spreadsheets.
- Turn transportation into revenue-generating machine. Historically considered a cost center, transportation has become a competitive advantage for TMS users that have the data and information they need for good decision-making right at their fingertips.
- Create higher levels of predictability. We’re all operating in an uncertain world right now, but TMS can help “even out” some of the ups and downs revealing the lagging indicators and leading indicators around freight volume and spend (among many other data points).
- Make better predictions. Using accurate forecasting data, companies can set better expectations around their current and future freight needs—regardless of the current conditions (i.e., capacity crunches, driver shortages, cost increases, and so forth).
- Improve relationships with carriers. Everyone wants to be a “shipper of choice” for their transportation providers these days, and TMS facilitates this by generating data that you can share with those suppliers. They can turn around and use this data to more cost-effectively allocate their transportation capacity and improve services.
- Optimize your own fleets. If you have a private fleet, the data generated by your TMS can help you arrange backhauls and optimize the utilization of that fleet. For example, you can use information about fleet usage and availability to figure out where to place equipment and drivers. This, in turn, will help you maximize your investments in vehicles and labor.
- Eliminate dock congestion. Integrated with a dock scheduling tool, TMS can schedule pickup and delivery appointments and provide real-time visibility and predictability across logistics operations. For example, if the data tells you that refrigerated packaged goods must be loaded at temperature-controlled docks, you can build dynamic, intelligent schedules that alleviate dock congestion and reduce carrier wait times.
- Get one version of the truth. Similarly, TMS can connect to other systems, such as a warehouse management system (WMS) or yard management system (YMS), to offer the end-to-end visibility that provides one version of the truth and enhances decision-making.
- Flatten seasonal peaks and valleys. Using your TMS’ historical data, you can easily identify business fluctuations and work to line up transportation capacity ahead of those peaks—versus getting stuck in a high-cost/low-capacity environment during the high seasons.
- Accurately answer the “Where’s My Stuff?” question. Your TMS can tell you when a customer delivery is within a mile of its final destination, or when it has stopped on the highway due to a breakdown. With this data in hand, you can confidently provide updates to customers who want to know when their orders are going to arrive.
- Improve reporting. All companies want good visibility into their capacity, freight volumes, and freight tracking, and most TMS platforms include reporting features that help you leverage these and other data points when developing your transportation plan.
- Get a “big picture” perspective across your entire supply chain operation. Working together, TMS and supply chain visibility platforms provide the data you need to be able to efficiently track carrier performance, keep those carriers accountable, maximize your own transportation assets, and provide high levels of service to your own customers.
Starting Putting Your Supply Chain Data to Work Today
IntelliTrans’ Global Control Tower provides high levels of supply chain transparency; aggregates, completes, and enhances data from a variety of sources; offers visibility into and execution of different aspects of the supply chain; and generates data-driven alerts and analytics that ask deeper questions and deliver meaningful insights.
By leveraging tracking information, the Global Control Tower provides analytics that measures key performance indicators (KPIs) like fleet cycle time, origin/destination dwell time, lane and hauler performance, back orders, freight spend, load optimization, and more. With their rate, equipment, lease, tracking, and invoice data in a central repository that’s accessible 24/7, companies can position themselves for success in any market conditions.