Why Traditional Transportation Management Systems Are Unable to Meet Today’s Industry Needs
Over the past several decades, the computing solutions required to run a transportation-related business have become increasingly complex. Primarily driven by an explosion in the number of point solutions available (and often required), navigating this complexity has become a full time job for many transportation professionals. Trucking companies and shippers spend a tremendous amount of time procuring individual point solutions and wiring them together. For example, an individual trucking company will purchase a TMS product, a mileage calculation solution, an accounting solution, a payroll solution, plus many others and then spend significant energy connecting them all together just to be able to run their business. Transportation professionals are being distracted by the need to constantly purchase and integrate solutions. Of course, this leaves less time to focus on running and improving their businesses.
As more and more solutions become available this problem will continue to negatively impact shippers and carriers unless there is a structured approach to bringing solutions together that does not require individual companies to become system integrators. Solving this problem requires a platform approach. Enter the Transportation Management Platform. A transportation management platform provides a single entry point for shippers, carriers, brokers, and 3PLs to operate and improve their businesses. The platform sits at the center of the transportation process and delivers users with an end-to-end solution ready built for the entire transportation process.
Key Features of a Modern Transportation Management Platform
The transportation management platform such as the PCS Express Platform delivers key functionality out-of-the-box:
- Built-in functionality to manage your drivers, assets and the entire transportation process.
- Ready-made integrations to leading industry solutions.
- Sharing of information between shippers and carriers.
- Advanced capabilities that allow you to not only run your business but also improve it.
- Open API’s that allow you to integrate the platform into your existing systems.
- Unfettered access to your data via business intelligence and data extractors.
- Hosted as a SaaS solution, so you don’t have to procure and manage compute resources.
For Shippers, Carriers, Brokers and 3PLs, at its core, a transportation management platform must deliver the required functionality to easily generate and accept transportation requests and assign them to transportation resources including commercial carriers, private fleets, and third-party brokerages. During the transportation process, the platform must have built-in capabilities to understand the status and location of your freight. At the end of the process, the platform should allow the carrier to invoice and get paid for moving the freight, the shipper to pay and audit their carriers, and brokers to pay and get paid. The successful transportation management platform will deliver all of these capabilities and more without requiring the users to integrate disparate solutions together.
Furthermore, the transportation management platform provides out-of-the-box integrations to the solutions required to successfully run the transportation process. For example, connecting to mileage calculation solutions should be as simple as selecting them on the user interface and the mileage is automatically applied to a given load. The user is not required to enter a second user interface and manually extract the miles and add them to the load. This process is handled seamlessly. If a given carrier is using a factoring company, the invoices being factored should automatically be pushed to the factoring company without manual intervention.
Enabling Synergies Across the Shipping & Logistics Industry
Shippers and carriers work closely together as two very critical links in the supply chain. It is imperative that the platform enables them to work closer together. When a shipper has a request to move freight, that tender should be seamlessly and automatically pushed to the carrier. When a carrier accepts the load, the shipper should automatically be notified of the acceptance. The modern transportation management platform enables this interaction using both electronic data interchange as well as open API’s.
When shippers and carriers are on the same platform such as the PCS Express Platform, the loads simply appear in the carrier’s user interface and their location and status is available for all interested parties including carriers, shippers, brokers, and end customers. The PCS Express Platform provides the ability for shippers and carriers to gain industry insight such as the going rate for running a given lane simply because there are so many companies on the platform. This helps shippers get the best rate and helps carriers make sure they are offering competitive rates for the lanes they run. The PCS Express Platform also allows carriers to publish their services to shippers on the PCS Express Platform. This is the “Power of the Platform”.
Optimizing Routes and Improving Operations
The PCS Express Platform recently introduced advanced capabilities enabling shippers and carriers to optimize their route plans in such a way they reduce empty miles or make sure their drivers are running the maximum number of loads possible in a given timeframe. Shippers can also get real-time insight into the location of all of the loads being run by a given carrier on their behalf. The PCS Express Platform approach provides a common user interface and an AI/ML backend that delivers these advanced capabilities that enable Shippers, Carriers, Brokers, and 3PLs to not only operate their business but also continuously improve their businesses, saving them time, saving them money, and providing opportunity to make more money. Once again, “The Power of the Platform”.
Providing a Custom Solution that Scales
Because every transportation business is different, the platform approach provides the ability for customers to programmatically integrate with it in addition to the many built-in integrations. This allows transportation professionals to connect the PCS Express Platform with their unique transportation processes without requiring them to request a TMS vendor to create a custom solution for them. This is accomplished via open APIs. The PCS Express Platform recently delivered the ability to connect to the platform programmatically using highly secured industry standard swagger based REST APIs. This helps customers to exploit “The Power of the Platform”.
Integrated Data For Improved Insights and Business Intelligence
Shippers, Carriers, Brokers, and 3PLs spend tremendous energy entering, importing, and interfacing data into their transportation management platforms. This data is a gold mine of insight for the transportation professional. This information helps them identify business challenges, track operational KPIs, and keep key stakeholders informed. Traditional transportation management systems keep the data locked up inside and users are forced to only use a set of canned reports which does not allow them to fully leverage the vast amount of data available. The PCS Express Platform provides open access to transportation data which includes the ability, using a business intelligence engine, to create ad-hoc reports and data extracts. This open approach enables customers to fully exploit the data they spend so much energy creating and managing. Data is perhaps the most powerful tool to allow transportation professionals to run and improve their businesses.
Hosted Solutions Reduce Infrastructure Needs
The PCS Express Platform is hosted as a SaaS solution which allows Shippers, Carriers, Brokers, and 3PLs to spend their energy on using the platform as opposed to administering all of the IT infrastructure required to host and run it. Absent a SaaS solution, transportation related businesses must procure servers, ensure they are up to date and secure, and manage the entire application stack including servers, databases, and network components.
The Power of the Platform
The platform approach used in constructing the PCS Express Platform enables shippers, carriers, brokers, and 3PL’s to work closer together to execute the end-to-end transportation process seamlessly and easily. Driven by out-of-the-box integrations, open API’s, and unfettered access to data, customers put the PCS Express Platform at the center of their business and focus their energy on smooth operations and continuously improving their businesses. Advanced capabilities such as Fleet Optimization, Driver Optimization, Asset Tracking and Management, and Shared Market Rates provide the ability to save time, save money, and ultimately make more money. This in essence is “The Power of the Platform”.