Logistics Software on Freight Load Boards: An Overview

Freight matching load boards are one of the ways the Internet has transformed the auto transport business. Instead of labor-intensive pre-digital systems that rely on phone communication and physical record-keeping, online load boards allow truck operators, brokers and shippers to instantly deliver quotes and bid for jobs. Another major advantage of online boards is the ability to integrate logistics software, allowing carriers to plot routes and track all kinds of useful statistics automatically, right through the online interface. This article is a basic introduction to integrated load board logistics software.

Load boards aren’t just for freight carriers – shippers who have freight to transport can create accounts to post their job on the board, though they will see a different interface than either brokers or carriers. Advanced boards have the ability to provide quote estimates that they compile based on past transactions conducted on the board, to help the shipper anticipate and budget costs. When shippers post jobs, brokers and carriers can view them to optimize truck loads and bid on the contracts.

As we mentioned earlier, implementing load boards online also makes it possible to implement advanced computerized logistics solutions, and this is exactly what the industry has done.

If you ever wondered how auto transport carriers pick the best routes, they do it by using truck mapping, routing and mileage software that selects the optimal path automatically. For a modern business that relies on transportation – not just trucking companies, but supermarket chains and many others – logistics software is a necessity. Large companies often have heavily-customized in house solutions; however, most auto transport carriers are relatively small businesses, so as an extra service, most online auto transport boards provide truckers access to logistics software as part of their membership.

While there is a variety of logistics programs on the market, most boards active today incorporate the PC*MILER software by ALK Technologies. Other route planning and mileage tracker software includes Viamente Route Planner, Telogis logistics suite, TruckMiles by ProMiles software and a number of others.

Integrated logistics software allows a board member to plan routes, estimate gas usage and track mileage – all important steps in giving the customer an accurate quote that reflects current fuel prices and won’t obliterate the carrier’s profit margin.

Moreover, logistics programs, including load board integrated ones, aren’t limited to calculating routes – with GPS tracking, they can also pinpoint the location of a vehicle and calculate the number of miles actually traveled, average speeds, fuel efficiency and much more. These features are great for carrier financial calculations, bookkeeping and efficiency improvements.

Routing software can contain helpful features for the carrier operator as well – while in transit, the driver can connect to the app and check traffic and road condition information from the 511 service in states and localities where it’s available.

These are only some of the great benefits that integrated logistics software can provide to transport carriers and truck operators. Learning to use this software to save gas and money, and improve workflow efficiency is crucial to your company’s success as a freight carrier.

Operating a Transportation Management System Using Logistics Software

A Transportation Management System (TMS) is an element of supply chain management that is positioned between a company’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and its shipping process. Ultimately, the system ensures that a company’s resources are invested in the best transportation process for its freight, one that offers the best combination of freight care, delivery time, and delivery cost. Supporting the system’s management function is a logistics resource, typically either (a) an in-house logistics department, (b) a Third Party Logistics provider (3PL) or (c) logistics software. How well the system works – and the style of management it offers – depends largely on the logistics resource.

Evaluating Logistics Resources

Most shippers prefer to have logistics performed in-house. Traditionally, this requires hiring experts – something that is common among large, high volume shippers that have a transportation fleet, but not among small to medium size shippers that don’t have a fleet. For these shippers, the traditional alternative to hiring experts is contracting with a 3PL provider – an arrangement whose value depended on the practices of the 3PL provider. For many companies, 3PL providers present three problems:

  • They make the transportation management process seem distant
  • Their load pairing strategies aren’t based on the broadest options
  • Their highest level of transportation management can be unaffordable

In recent years, logistics software has provided shippers with an alternative to high level 3PL, one that is capable of managing the shipping process and discovering better shipping options as they arise. In addition to costing less than a 3PL provider that manages and innovates the shipping process (i.e. a customer adapter), the software lets shippers take control of their TMS by facilitating three functions that a good TMS should facilitate:

  • Planning the shipping process. A TMS should plan the shipping process according to the shipper’s parameters, which include such things as LTL rates, delivery time and warehousing fees.
  • Monitoring the shipping process. A TMS should monitor the shipping process in an administrative capacity, handling such things as transport alerts, customs clearance and invoicing.
  • Measuring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Without the consistent, accurate measurement of KPIs, a shipper can persist with shipping options that don’t offer the best value.

Logistics software can facilitate these functions, allowing shippers to have the logistics function in-house without investing a significant amount of capital to have it there.

Conclusion

Companies that ship products need an effective transportation management system, which means that they need a comprehensive logistics function. Traditionally, shippers have acquired this function by hiring in-house experts or contracting with a 3PL provider. Today, however, logistics software gives them the opportunity to have the logistics function in-house without paying a premium to have it there.

For small to midsize companies, hiring in-house experts can be cost prohibitive, and contracting with a 3PL provider can bring the feeling of being disconnected from the shipping process. Logistics software can resolve both issues by offering a complete logistical function on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model.

3 Key Processes Of Transportation Management System

Transportation Management Systems are really meant to increase the ROI and efficiency of your logistics company and has become a mandatory element for an effective logistics management. The transportation management system or TMS helps your make your logistics management more organized and accurate.

Transportation Management software are aimed at bringing down the time, cost and improved profit. If the time and cost taken are decreased, then there is no doubt that your profit would sour high. All you need to do is to learn to manage this amazing tool in the right way. If you are not managing TMS in the proper way then you cannot expect your business to improve.

Here I would like to talk about the 3 key processes of a transport management system, which have an influential role towards the success of your logistics business.

1) Planning and Decision Making
Planning and Decision making are the most essential parts of any successful organization and cannot be ignored at any cost. If the planning and decision making are not up to the mark, the business is sure to suffer. There have been many instances when many companies have vanished due to lack of proper planning and decision.

A transportation management solutions helps you to plan your logistics business effectively and categorize your transport schemes accordingly based on the importance as per user policy. Some of the major things that plays vital role in proper planning and decision making are transport cost, shorter lead-time, fewer stops, flows regrouping coefficient etc.

The TMS systems is also known as logistics management system and helps you to calculate your transportation cost and adjust your routes so as to experience a decrease in the transportation cost. It helps you to find out which routes yields you better profit margin and which are the stops that needs to be avoided without harming your profit ratio.

In the end the report generating facility offered by this vehicle management system helps you to analyze your logistics management in a much better way. You can even change the scheduling and routing of your vehicles for better results. The report helps you to plan better and make decisions based on that.

2) Customer follow-up
TMS helps you to experience a better customer relationship and follow up due to its enhanced features. One of the advanced feature that makes the tool stand out is the GPS vehicle tracking facility, which helps you to track your vehicle with the help of satellites. With this you would be able to inform your customers as where the vehicle is and when their goods would be delivered. It also helps in effective billing, accurate report generation, documentation etc, which makes your customers happy and satisfied.

3) Measurement
A transportation management system offers you a detailed and customized analytics report which would help you to understand your business in a much better way. The report would help you to find out the areas that needs improvements and also help where you stand when compared with the previous months. Certain reports helps you to drill down more deeper so as to get a better assessment regarding your vehicle routing software.

Logistics Software Solutions Vs Hiring a Parcel Rate Adjuster

Parcel carrier rates aren’t designed to help your company reduce shipping costs; they’re designed to support the profits of parcel carriers. You won’t hear it in their advertisements, but parcel carriers have an inflexible set of standard rates that give the appearance of flexibility due to a set of pricing algorithms that determine how the rates are applied. So, how do you keep your shipping system from being a financial casualty of the parcel carrier system? The first step is a simple: avoid being convinced that one parcel carrier is somehow “better” than the rest. When people arrive at this perception, it’s often in response to advertising ploys that promote notions of a carrier’s “nobility” via its selfless dedication to the customer.

When businesses become dedicated to one carrier, they typically stop shopping for better parcel shipping rates and end up paying for services that they don’t need. Therefore, step two of assuring that your company gets the best carrier rates is either having a parcel rate adjuster investigate your situation or implementing transportation logistics software. Both transportation logistics software and parcel rate adjusters offer extensive logistical information that reveals fair courier rates for a variety of shipping situations, including the comparative analysis of fuel surcharges between carriers and audits of shipping fees that uncover breaches in service, such as non-delivery of services or service delivered too late. Logistics software and rate adjusters also determine whether your company is being charged for services that it simply doesn’t need, such as residential delivery or Hazmat shipping services.

When you consult logistics software or a reputable rate advisor, you can expect to receive detailed questions about what you ship and how you go about shipping it. In each case, cost savings suggestions are often simpler than expected. For example, a Philadelphia law practice was able to save $15,000 a year in shipping costs by determining when parcels were expected instead of sending every parcel overnight. Why didn’t the firm do this in the first place? In the legal profession, the “importance” of legal documents leads to the perception that they need to be delivered as quickly as possible, even when they don’t. Similar to seeing through advertising ploys, simply seeing through the trends in your business area can result in significant parcel savings.

Arriving at the best shipping plan for your business involves selecting the shipping options that meet your specific needs and then finding them at the best price. While some companies choose to consult with a rate advisor, other companies choose to implement logistics software and save money. In addition to being more cost effective than hiring a parcel rate adjuster, logistics software solutions arrive in a shorter period of time and are always free of human error. If you suspect that you’re paying too much for parcel shipping or you haven’t compared rates in awhile, why pay even more by hiring a parcel rate adjuster when logistics software solutions can offer you more dependable results in a shorter period of time and at a lower cost?