As supply chains depend more on complex connection to different technologies to operate the way they do, shipping technology has been advancing at ever increasing speeds. Over 2016, the biggest technology trends for transportation management systems was supply chain visibility, an issue shippers have long been waiting for since TMSs were available. In the last year TMS vendors have been working to further optimize transportation supply chains and continuing to increase shipping speeds and cut shipping costs.
Transportation management system software and technology is constantly evolving and shaping the way logistics management in transportation and shipping industries is practiced, so what will be the latest trends to the shipping and logistics technology in 2017? Will supply chains and transportation logistics continue to focus on shipping visibility, or will there be a new focus? Here are some possible directions for transportation management systems throughout the rest of the year.
1: Better Transportation Visibility
Since transportation management systems came on the market, both shippers and vendors have hoped for the day when they could monitor their freight every second of the day in real-time, every inch of the way. Shippers and their transportation logistics management are waiting for the day they can see the moment the freight is picked up, watch where the truck is as it ships the freight across the country, get updated the second the freight is unloaded at the delivery location, and be able to share freight transportation tracking with the customer and relevant business partners. Luckily for transportation supply chains and shipping businesses everywhere, the technology is getting there. There are TMSs on the market which are capable of offering real-time tracking of freight shipments from end-to-end, and it’s changing supply chain management.
2: Smaller Businesses Utilizing Transportation Management Systems
TMSs have generally been used by larger shipping companies, and hardly adopted by smaller shipping supply chains at all. This is expected to change. Small and mid-sized shipping companies are likely to start adopting a TMS for better transportation and logistics management to boost their supply chain performance levels and save money shipping. Due to the increase in SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) cloud-based transportation management systems, these smaller shipping companies are able to afford and benefit from a TMS they didn’t before have the resources to expend. Higher transportation costs driving the need and lowered costs to implement making it possible have made transportation management systems both available to and need by all sized shippers.
3: Higher Possible ROIs from TMS Implementation
The logistics and transportation management capabilities that transportation management systems afford shippers enables them to make smarter decisions for their supply chain. While TMSs have always generally shown a return on investment, the ability to gather data for procurement purposes, best carrier selection for specific lanes, and optimization of transportation needs have make it possible to increase ROIs, particularly on the upper end. The transportation industry has been finding that likely savings from implementing a TMS have gone up within the last decade, and the upper end of possible returns have increased.
4: Cloud-Based Transportation Management Systems Increase
The cloud made its way to the transportation and logistics management field and changed the way supply chains are monitored. The cloud increases supply chain visibility by allowing the TMS to be accessed by the shipper, business partners, carriers, 3PLs, and customers to access shipment information at any time of day and in real-time. Transportation management systems are likely to continue with the cloud-based trend headed into the future. TMS vendors who aren’t already offering cloud-based TMS software will likely move in that direction, while those on the cloud will enhance their transportation visibility and offer greater logistics management solutions.
5: Use of Transportation Management Systems through Third-Parties
TMSs often seem to have low rates of use among shippers who use them for supply chain management solutions and logistics strategies when the savings are proven time and time again, but this doesn’t factor in those who use the same technology through 3PLs. Transportation management systems have been used by 3PLs as part of larger logistics management services to help shippers manage their transportation supply chains, particularly for e-commerce shipping companies. While 2017 expects to see an increase in the use of TMSs, a large part of it may come through 3PLs.
6: Mobile TMS Applications
Finally, a trend in logistics and supply chain management that shouldn’t be overlooked is the use of mobile technology. Because there is such a push for real-time visibility in the TMS market the ability to monitor freight shipments and supply chains from anywhere will play a larger role in the industry. The logistics market is demanding accessibility, potential visibility of transportation in real-time through apps on drivers phones, and improved data to help make better, faster, and smarter supply chain decisions.