Why real-time visibility and TMS solutions should be implemented together

Jan 15, 2021
Supply Chain
Innovation

Supply chain leaders have long switched on to the fact that there is much value to be gained from freight tech and why it is critical for remaining competitive. However, an organization’s quest to ‘go digital’ often involves a suite of individual projects, each requiring their own new systems and technologies.

For logistics teams, transport management systems (TMS) are foundational for optimal performance and efficiency of transportation, to enable the planning, execution and optimization of the movement of goods along supply chains. However, the ROI from implementing a TMS can only be truly maximized when paired with a real-time visibility solution, and as a result choosing a real-time transportation visibility (RTTV) provider in parallel to a TMS can fast-track these benefits.

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Benefits of implementing RTTV first, or in parallel with TMS

Implementing RTTV is faster and easier compared to a TMS, and ultimately brings faster ROI. Custom APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) make it quick and easy to connect shipper and carrier systems with a RTTV platform, allowing data to exchange freely in both directions, in real-time. What's more, it can be done with little or no intervention from IT teams and no interference with an organization’s existing IT landscape.

The benefits RTTV platforms bring to other departments within organizations, outside of those oriented towards supply chain and logistics management, further increase ROI potential. For example, real-time insights on the status and position of goods moving through the value chain can help sales and operations planning teams better plan promotions in retail. Customer service teams can provide a higher level of service when handling customer inquiries - or even avoid inquiries in the first place - with automated customer delivery notifications.

However the main reason shippers should aim to implement RTTV before or in conjunction with TMS platforms concerns fine-tuning and maximizing performance. RTTV platforms leverage sophisticated machine learning algorithms to process vast amounts of data, in real-time, to produce actionable, predictive insights. Predictions and estimates can be compared with objective real-time data, enabling unequivocal root cause analysis to be conducted. This analysis can uncover the ‘gaps’ or areas within transport operations that need attention, and in turn what adjustments to make within the TMS accordingly so that ROI can be maximized.

Bridging the gap

RTTV bridges the gap between the core functionalities of a TMS, which are largely focused on pre and post shipment activities, with data derived from transport execution itself. This real-time information about delivery status, key events and ETA predictions, flow back into the TMS, avoiding double or manual entries and helps to reconcile shipment transport data with that of other operations and processes involved before and after a shipment.

For example, during the pre-shipment phase, objective RTTV data tracking things like carrier performance, dwell times, ETAs and delays can be used to improve optimization and planning. Likewise, after a shipment, RTTV data improves the granularity and reliability of reporting and cuts administrative burdens by doing things like speeding up invoicing processes. This data also helps to both reduce disputes and speed up dispute resolution between shippers, carriers and receivers thanks to readily available timestamped delivery data. Finally, throughout all phases of shipment, RTTV helps boost collaboration between all supply chain partners, providing a single platform ‘control tower’ for monitoring goods and coordinating activities throughout the value chain.

Diagram: How RTTV bridges the gap between core TMS functionalities.

The vision for end-to-end visibility

The end goal for supply chain management when it comes to digitization is ultimately full ‘end-to-end’ visibility of supply chain operations. The reality is that without the RTTV component, a TMS implementation cannot achieve this since it cannot provide real-time or predictive information about shipments in transit. When TMS and RTTV solutions are combined, the capabilities of each system increase by order of magnitude. By relying on a carrier’s TMS, tracking data quality will always be more accurate, as carriers tend to run their daily operations directly via their TMS. These daily operations include, for example, the pairing of vehicles with their transportation orders, the advanced planning of milk runs and requirements for cross docks without the need for a dispatcher to perform anything manually.

The contextual information relating to each shipment extracted from a TMS allows RTTV to produce more accurate and reliable ETAs and helps to generate powerful insights into transport network performance. Shippeo’s TMS partnerships make it possible to combine TMS offerings with our real-time visibility capabilities, producing an all-in-one solution for shippers. From transport planning, to execution and real-time visibility, these partnerships offer a unique approach to streamlining processes. In addition, real-time KPIs encourage excellence in execution and facilitate better analysis of operations by Exception Management. It also offers TMS users market-leading estimated time of arrival (ETA) accuracy and reliability thanks to our sophisticated proprietary algorithm.

Shippeo is currently integrated with over 200 TMSes, many used extensively throughout Europe. Shippeo’s integrations team are experts in integrating any TMS quickly, easily and most importantly at scale. This is crucial for onboarding large carrier fleets, across multiple regions or continents. This ability to connect with TMSes rapidly has allowed us to quickly grow our network, which comprises over 140,000 carriers linked to our 80+ customers. Once a TMS connection is created, it makes onboarding new customers who use the same systems lightning quick, speeding up the availability of valuable predictive data to shippers sooner.

Gartner ranked RTTV as the most important supply chain investment in its 2019 Market Guide for Real-Time Visibility Providers and when you consider all the capabilities it brings to a TMS it’s easy to understand why. By 2023, Gartner predicts 50% of global product-centric enterprises will have invested in real-time transportation visibility platforms. With our extensive experience in TMS integrations, get in touch with our expert team to discuss how easily RTTV can be combined into your TMS implementation or find out more about the importance of TMS integrations in our visibility guide 'Choosing the right transportation visibility provider'.

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