Transport Management System from the perspective of Coyote Logistics experts
In one of our previous articles, we introduced you to what a TMS, i.e. a transport management system, is and explained what tasks it can be used for by companies from the logistics sector. But what does it look like in practice? We invited four Coyote Logistics experts who use TMS on a daily basis to share their comments and reflections on working with the transport management system. Here’s what they told us.
The following people participated in the roundtable discussion:
- Anna Rauch, EU Senior Carrier Operations Analyst;
- Magda Packa, EU Manager, Carrier Sales;
- Michał Konieczny, EU Manager, Carrier Sales;
- Arkadiusz Rozumek, EU Senior Manager, Carrier Sales.
What do you think are the most important benefits of using TMS in the logistics industry?
Arkadiusz Rozumek: For logistics companies that operate on a larger scale, such as Coyote Logistics, the TMS is an essential tool that allows control of all operations in one environment. Currently, TMS systems have built-in reporting modules that help analyze extensive databases, and with proper interpretation of this data, they also support managers in making business decisions. The TMS system allows us to control the costs and profitability of orders and helps us optimize our work.
Magda Packa: It is worth adding that in larger organizations, a large group of people perform their tasks at the same time, so the use of such a system is simply inevitable. TMS allows you to store everything in one place. Each user makes changes that are saved in real time, which allows other employees to have access to them on an ongoing basis, which in turn helps to avoid many mistakes. If each department worked on a separate program, at the end of the day it could turn out that there were a number of mistakes that would require additional time and money to correct. In short: TMS saves us time.
TMS allows us to control and optimize costs; we can rely on information from the system for the next months or years.
Michał Konieczny: In many efficient organizations, employees focus on a separate area of their activities. Thanks to this, they increase their productivity. Using TMS, each unit responsible for a given area updates system data on an ongoing basis. Thanks to this process, it is possible to correctly report, control and manage operations.
How does TMS support you in your daily work? Can you give an example from “company life”?
Michał: Everyday use of TMS provides direct access to information enabling rational purchasing decisions. For example, “load-lane history”, which allows us in two clicks to view the database of carriers serving a given lane over a given period. We are able to compare the carriers we cooperate with, both in terms of quality and cost.
Anna: “Day to day tasks” are important in TMS. Why? Because they allow us to organize the daily loads that come in and out of the system. This is probably the most important element of TMS, because we do not have to use any external Excel files or look for data by numbers or dates. We enter the system for a given day, see what we have to load and what we have to unload. In TMS, we have a database of reserved loads, i.e. those that are about to set off on their route, and we have a database of historical loads, i.e. those that have already arrived at their destination. Without TMS we would be less organized.
From my point of view, it is important that we have all orders in one place. This allows me to check all information about a given load, even if it was shipped several months ago.
Thanks to this, we are able to solve problems that appear after some time; TMS stores all data, which saves us time. I will refer to the golden rule that we follow at Coyote: if something is not recorded in TMS, it simply did not happen.
Arkadiusz: TMS supports us at every stage of transport. Starting with placing a given load, when the forwarder, after initial verification of the carrier, assigns it to a specific order in our system. When a carrier is associated with an order, the system verifies whether the carrier meets the standards expected by Coyote Logistics or required by the customer. If it turns out that the carrier does not meet a given requirement, the system does not allow him to be associated with the cargo. It can be said that at this stage the TMS system acts as a kind of “second eye”.
Our TMS is also coupled with GPS systems and the telematics systems of our carriers, thanks to which, after starting the execution of a given order, we have a constant overview of the GPS position of the trucks. We can easily and quickly predict the risk of delays. Additionally, when the driver leaves for loading or the driver arrives for a delivery, the system can automatically mark the current status.
Another interesting function is assistance in the optimal planning of vehicle routes. Transport management systems are able to advise the forwarder or dispatcher which load is best to assign to a given vehicle, taking into account loading and delivery hours, remaining working time and driver’s driving time, minimizing empty kilometers and maximizing the profitability of orders.
That’s not all, because TMS also allows you to control the weight of loads, the temperature in the trailer, the history of opening and closing the trailer (if it is equipped with appropriate sensors, locks, etc.).
It is worth remembering that these are actually only a few functionalities of TMS systems. Nowadays, TMS developers are competing with each other in new solutions.
When I observe the dynamic development of artificial intelligence, I think that in the coming years there will be more and more innovative solutions that will support the everyday work of forwarders and dispatchers.
Among the functionalities of TMS, which is the most helpful for you?
Anna: From the perspective of the duties I deal with, the most important functionality of the TMS system is the booking of contract loads for carriers, because it happens spontaneously. If we have signed a contract with a given carrier for the moving of cargo on a given lane, the load is booked via the TMS system and automatically assigned to this carrier. Such automation allows us to save time, which we can use, for example, to find options for other loads.
Magda: As I mentioned, the most helpful thing for me is that I have access to all the information in one place. I launch the system and easily find the data I need without having to refer to external sources, such as Excel spreadsheets.
For me, all TMS functions that streamline, simplify and optimize daily recurring operations are extremely important.
An example is the use of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) when exchanging system information with customers. Thanks to this function, the customer’s demand is visible in our system in the form of specific transport orders. TMS allows you to shorten the time from the customer’s request to the transport and allows you to reduce errors that may occur at various stages of the process.
Arkadiusz: Of course, TMS has many functionalities that are helpful to us, but for me the most important is the “second eye” that I have already mentioned. When we book a load, the forwarder’s system verifies the customer’s requirements again. This way, we can be sure that we will book a carrier for a given load that has, for example, a valid insurance policy that meets the customer’s requirements. This allows us to avoid the situation in which in the event of an accident or theft the policy does not cover the damage. The work of a forwarder is a responsible job, and negligence in the non-performance or improper performance of forwarding activities may be very costly for the company. This is why TMS additionally ensures that such oversights do not occur.
Can you imagine your work without the support of TMS?
Anna: I will answer briefly: no.
Magda: I remember there was a day when we came to work and it turned out that our TMS had a failure. Of course, we all resumed our daily work, but instead of TMS we had to use e-mails and internal messengers. It wasn’t easy, but we did it! I must admit that it was an inconvenience and our productivity was lower than usual. In the long run, working without a TMS is impossible because such a system minimizes the risk of human error.
Arkadiusz: As I mentioned at the beginning: in the case of companies operating on a larger scale, TMS is an integral element of everyday work that allows for many optimizations, because thanks to them we are able to reduce the number of manual and time-consuming processes to a minimum.
Michał: Working without TMS is possible, yes, but such a system is simply necessary in the long run to maintain competitiveness and productivity.
Thank you for the interview.