Driving innovation – Special Technology Report on Transportation Management Systems


Manufacturing & Logistics IT spoke to a number of experts from the vendor and analyst communities about recent trends and ongoing areas of development within the world of Transportation Management Systems.

The Transportation Management System (TMS) landscape continues to develop at a rapid pace, and many of the more recent enhancements and innovations will be surveyed in this report. To begin, Sriram Venkatraman, senior consultant mobility, Frost & Sullivan, briefly revisits what the TMS landscape has looked like in recent times. "Over the years, traditional Transport Management Systems have primarily comprised Operations Planning, Transportation Intelligence, Tactical Planning, Procurement, Carrier Sourcing, Execution, Freight Bill Auditing and Settlement along with Reporting and Analytics capabilities," he pointed out, adding: "In the digital era, Frost & Sullivan believes that supply chain solution providers must continuously innovate their product portfolio with edge technologies to digitally transform supply chain and remain competitive."

According to Venkatraman, partnerships and collaborations between technology companies, institutes and solution providers will accelerate innovation. For example, he points out that TMS provider JDA recently signed a multi-year collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to focus on joint research. JDA and MIT collaborated to leverage expertise in intelligent edge technologies such as analytics, machine learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) to create new approaches to cognitive supply chain.

In terms of key drivers for development within the TMS marketplace, Venkatraman cites e-commerce (complexities from truck capacity optimisation to last-mile delivery), increasing adoption in APAC, technology affordability, easier implementations and globalisation for retailers and logistics companies are some of the key drivers. He added that globalisation will continue to open new markets to SMBs; allowing them to work with global suppliers and customers. "Vendor innovation combined with solutions that fit the smaller shipper's budget will accelerate the adoption in APAC region," he said. "E-commerce and omnichannel distribution are compelling shippers to consider TMS as part of their overall Supply Chain Management (SCM) strategy."

Different priorities

Bart De Muynck, research director, Gartner, reflects that transportation can be a highly varied displine. "It might involve manufacturers shipping products to one location and then shipping them internationally to another location, or it might involve retailers importing goods from Asia and then selling them in their stores in Europe or the US," he said. "Carriers, shippers and third-part logistics companies (3PLs) all have different priorities in terms of the type of transportation management technology they require. In terms of the vendors themselves, some focus their solutions on particularly industries."

De Muynck added that, in Europe, the transportation industry is a little different to the US; the US still being the biggest market for transportation technologies. "This means that many companies are giving more of the optimisation and planning responsibilities to the carriers rather than wanting to do planning and optimisation on their side," he said.

One of the things De Muynck continues to see is that an increasing number of TMS or TES (Transportation Execution Systems) are now Cloud-based solutions; some of them being multi-tenant Cloud-based systems. "While there are large levels of adoption within large companies we are also seeing more and more small and medium-size businesses adopting the systems too," he said. "Interestingly, the largest TMS product in the world is probably also one of the least known – Ascend TMS by InMotion Global. This solution currently has around 11,000 to 12,000 customers, both SMEs and Enterprise companies. This really shows that it's no longer a technology used only by companies that ship billions of products worth hundreds of millions of dollars in freight. We even see companies today who spend just 1 million dollars in freight using this type of technology. So, this market has changed quite a bit in recent times."

Joe Vernon, digital supply chain strategic advisor, Capgemini, points to a couple of big conversations currently taking place within the transportation management solutions arena. "Telematics and remote sensing the driver and of the trailer is currently a key theme," he said. "Also, there has been continued movement to the SaaS model. For example, Oracle's OTM is now a SaaS (Software as a Service) model in the Cloud for the first time. As users start moving to the Cloud and SasS they start to think about themselves as being part of a supply chain ecosystem rather than just operating within a standalone transportation system. In terms of being part of an ecosystem, if you think about all these remote sensing devices and Internet of Things (IoT) all the way through to tracking things and the introduction of external data such as weather and route availability and all these other inputs now for transportation management systems, the idea of the ecosystem starts to make more sense. It's just not about simply using a routing optimisation tool anymore; it's increasingly becoming part of something bigger. It helps that these systems are now available in the Cloud because this is a more facile architecture than the on-premise alternative."

Vernon makes the point that transportation management solutions – like WMS and ERP – are basically execution systems. "However, over the top of this can be added functionality such as Big Data and Data Science in order to get a better routing optimisation algorithm and enhanced results from this. This data could, for example, relate to weather conditions or other external data factors. You don't really want your transportation management system to try to make sense of all these patterns; let your data science layer or your Big Data layer offer recommendations. Then, you can take these recommendations to your TMS, put them into your workflow and act on them."

In terms of key drivers for change, Vernon cited the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate recently introduced to track driving time. "This has really opened things up to the extent that people are now saying if we are going to have a telematics-type device within the equipment let's track everything – from a predictive maintenance perspective, let's monitor the performance of the engine, and let's monitor how the driver handles the equipment. For example, you could look for hard braking, improper cornering, whether the truck has been idling for a long time and whether there is excessive vibration that could lead to damage of the vehicle etc. So now you are talking about installing optics and sensors inside of the truck. This is the world of IoT. I really do think this new legislation has opened up all of these possibilities and got people thinking about the whole driver-truck environment."

Partner network

Bryan Ball, VP & group director – global supply management practices, Aberdeen Group, makes the point that within the TMS and TMO (Transport Management Optimisation) user space, most of the larger companies utilise some level of TMS either themselves or they have a very close partner network that they work through to schedule and optimise freight rates across the board. "This network arrangement can be like a clearinghouse – showing where freight is available or where there are opportunities with empty trailers, who has refrigerated trucks available and so on," he said. "However, some companies still don't use TMS or TMO; they still use their traditional purchasing systems to manage and control what they spend on their freight. But, of course, this way of working is unlikely to offer the optimisation benefits that a TMS could provide."

So TMS and TMO essentially covers the scheduling and movement of goods. The second key discipline is of course the management of the fleet. This is where solutions such as telematics can play a critical role. As Ball points out, the term 'fleet' can refer to everything from assets, drivers, even ocean cargo and containers. "Looking at the fleet in the wider sense of the word, there is no doubt that because of security, commitment or even receipt of goods companies want to know the exact position or location of goods that are inbound from a standpoint of those that are procuring, and on the outbound side for those who are shipping. In terms of fleet management from a driver perspective, you can track the movement of goods, idle time of the physical assets, the time spent waiting which could make you realise you need dock scheduling solution to minimise the downtime. Also, as part of a TMS suite many of them have an optimisation package that maximises the cubic-foot utilisation of the asset – for example, a company with 10% of their fleet of 20 trucks sitting idle for a couple of days can be expensive."

Returning to GPS and tracking, Ball explains that tracking has expanded into many other areas apart from drivers and assets. These areas include mileage, telemetrics coming off the engine, the rotating parts. "It can be very much like an aircraft in terms of thinking about when the most convenient time would be to schedule maintenance downtime, rotating the tyres, doing an oil change or whatever else might be required at the service level," he said. "Fleet tracking solutions can also keep the logs up to date automatically – on the drivers in terms of their downtime, where they've been and the mileage they've done. There is also a safety and legal compliance element here; because of the recently introduced ELD legislation in Canada, the US and across the borders, freight companies literally have to have a fleet tracking solution online and readily accessible at all times so up-to-date logs can be shown when required. In this way you remain legally protected."


Andrew Briggs, technical director, BEC (Systems Integration) Ltd., believes the main current challenges within the TMS space are: Improve productivity, plug revenue leakage, security, the importance of first-time delivery, the ability to facilitate rapid change and improved total cost of ownership (TCO).

Considering some of the key drivers for change, Briggs added that transport businesses that have been using rugged handheld devices for years face a change in the available supported operating systems from Windows CE to Android. "This has driven a much broader re-think of current, often bespoke applications," he said. "Whereas a simple hardware refresh might previously have been an option, now entire application suites are being reviewed for replacement and up-to-date functionality. With the move to Android, a whole suite of consumer devices now contend with rugged devices for both BYOD and direct provision by the business."

Added to this, Briggs made the point that general improvements in systems used by B2C delivery businesses have raised awareness of potential customer services experience improvements, as staff grow accustomed to the way couriers inform them of private deliveries to their homes – the DPD (Direct Parcel Distribution) effect. "This is leading more and more transportation companies to demand new functionality to proactively inform consignees of delivery progress through automated messaging and ETA updates to the customer whilst vehicles are on the road," said Briggs. "There is a growing need to add customer services managers as stakeholders when identifying new systems, where previously the primary stakeholders may have been focused towards transport managers."

The Cloud model

Michael Beck, product evangelist, inet, believes that since collaboration and communication are the key-requirements for a TMS today, being based on Cloud technology is a must. "We are glad to see the previous borders of data silos and monolithic applications fall," he said. "In this way, data can be shared and used to build applications that can react to changes and exceptions quickly even during a shipment being executed."

Taking this a step further, Beck maintains that this data must be enriched selectively with specific information to allow for predicting events. "An important technology in this context are APIs (Application Programming Interfaces)," he explained. "They make it possible to access specific information quickly (such as traffic or weather information) without having to build, populate or maintain a whole data pool individually."

Beck believes the key driver for changes in how we think about developing software solutions is clearly the rise of social media. "People have changed the way they think about and share their data in their private life, and this is gradually influencing their expectations towards business applications," he said. "Due to this, the amount of available data is constantly increasing and declining prices for processing and persisting this data in the Cloud are making so-called Big Data applications highly attractive."

Gunnar Gburek, head of business affairs, TimoCom, considers that process optimisation for the entire supply chain has a huge impact in terms of efficiency and competitive ability. "We want to offer our users a transport platform that allows them to process transport orders smartly, safely, and easily," he said. "That means: with help from our intelligent applications, business partners can find simpler and faster ways to ensure optimal use of resources. This includes interfaces like TC Connect.

We use TC Connect to connect the customer's transport management system to our transport platform at their request. The biggest advantage of this interface is that freight offers – assuming they cannot be assigned internally – can be transferred directly onto the transport platform from the customer's own system with one simple click, and thus offered to over 127,000 users. This allows freight to be assigned quickly and efficiently. The second very effective and practical interface is that to our tracking solution: the solution is already connected to over 230 different telematics service providers. Not only that, if needed you can display several vehicles with different telematics systems on only one map. We recently started offering our users an interface that also allows access to GPS locations in our transport platform via third-party applications."

In terms of drivers for change, Gburek made the point that Industry 4.0, digitalisation, and its use to increase efficiency and improve service continue to be essential for meeting requirements from our TimoCom users.

Dave Renshaw, CEO of OBS Logistics, made the point that when the company supplies WMS solutions to customers these days it finds that it is generally replacing another WMS. However, on the TMS side when OBS Logistics provides a new system for a customer it is more often than not installing the first TMS that the customer has used. "We often find that before the installation of a TMS many logistics companies would have relied on white boards or spreadsheets," explained Renshaw.

Renshaw added that, traditionally, transportation solutions were mainly employed to deal with the dispatching of goods from the warehouse – often with very little lead time and not a great deal of time to get organised in terms of requirements related to logistics. "There wasn't a great deal of efficiency with that sort of model," he said. "However, what we are seeing more prevalently now in terms of WMS and TMS integration, and with our own total product for logistics, is that the demand is getting into transport and it's the plan that's driving the warehouse process. So, the picking operation, the marshalling and dispatching is done to preplanned loads."

Speed, efficiency and visibility

Mohit Paul, SVP EMEA, BluJay Solutions, believes speed, efficiency and visibility are key factors in today's competitive logistics industry. "Greater connectivity across the supply chain will allow businesses to achieve these goals," he said. "A global trade network model, where companies are connected with hundreds of partners around the world, offers this connectivity and is therefore a key innovation in the application of transportation management computing solutions."

Paul added that the growth of worldwide networks of logistics companies means that transportation management software can be integrated across hundreds of different partner systems. "This means that these systems can handle information on a much larger number of shipments, locations and vehicles," he explained. "This new strategy goes beyond automation. Businesses can strategically create value and enable profitable growth in new and existing markets by optimising supply chain performance."

Paul also pointed out that using a single multi-tenant software platform, the global trade network allows businesses to integrate multiple partners and aggregate data, while maintaining security for all connected parties. "The improved access to capacity means that supply chain managers can explore new opportunities during capacity constraints," he said. "The global trade network holds thousands of carriers, forwarders and 3PLs who are already connected and readily available with all of their information available for use. This also increases speed and agility, as companies can quickly choose a new supplier or explore an alternative market instantly."

Paul explained that this connected network provides built-in, end-to-end visibility and embedded analytics can help supply chain managers to respond proactively in real time to any disruptions. "This offers the opportunity to scan the entire network for cost-saving opportunities, meaning businesses can truly optimise their supply chain," he remarked. "With Brexit on the horizon and trade laws causing concerns, a global trade network model can also help by connecting all compliance software with transportation software for seamless movement of products, therefore providing a friction-free border."

With regard to drivers for change, Paul reflects that in this digital age, customers now expect an extremely high level of service from supply chain providers. "Customers demand easy access to information about a product's location, its status and its date of delivery," he said. "The 'Amazon effect' has truly disrupted the industry, as companies that are unable to provide real-time updates on request are at risk of falling behind competitors and losing customer confidence. The pressure the supply chain is under is exacerbated even further by the challenging regulatory environment brought about by Brexit. Businesses are realising that they need to rethink their strategies to remain competitive in this unpredictable environment."

According to Paul, smaller companies in particular need to offer 'value-added' services on top of their regular services. "Just transporting crates will no longer enable these smaller businesses to retain market share in this increasingly customer-centric world," he said. "To achieve this, businesses require better visibility into the supply chain, to enhance the customer experience, cut costs and streamline processes. As a result, companies need to embrace the new technology on offer to reach these goals and drive future growth."


What are some of the key developments and discussion points concerning the relationship between the more field-based transportation management systems and the back-office systems they integrate with? Beck believes the key change lies in the communication between back-end systems and TMS. "In the past, we struggled with master data availability and various EDI formats due to asynchronous communication," he said. "Now APIs allow to quickly connect systems synchronously making master data alignment (e.g. for addresses) obsolete since integrated communication allows for real-time information exchange. This in turn facilitates the integration of the back-office systems and thus all supply chain members on our central Cloud-based platform."

Briggs points to increases in specific data transferred, the volume of transactions, frequency of data transfer between integrated systems.

And what have been the subsequent benefit improvements for the user in light of these developments? Maarten Hemmes, founder & CEO, CarPal, made the point that in last-mile logistics, open systems such as SaaS delivery management software manages to empower companies to bridge the gap between customers and operations through visibility, transparency and the ability to plan, manage and modify delivery workflows live. "As a Cloud-based solution, such a platform is built to offer information in real time through an intuitive dashboard, which typically allows teams to monitor jobs and drivers live on a sleek dashboard," he said. "Staying in the loop with accurate alerts and ETAs ultimately helps team identify bottlenecks and easily solve them before they escalate. For end users, being able to use an open system will considerably help them save time and cut down on cost while maximising their daily performance."

Beck considers that increased availability of native Cloud solutions and their flexibility and scalability have allowed a more synchronous approach to interfaces. He added that this in turn increases usability significantly because end-users do not have to wait for data alignment or batch jobs and thus enjoy faster response times and easier real-time collaboration.

Renshaw reflected that OBS Logistics has been fortunate over the years to have worked within the 3PL market. "This has driven us down the avenue of having a total solution rather than simply offering either a WMS or TMS," he said. "Indeed, we're winning more and more business because of it because an increasing number of people are recognising the benefits of choosing a totally integrated solution encompassing TMS, WMS, delivery management with mobile ePOD and supply chain tracking, as well as having the ability to integrate with other best of breed solutions; including telematics. We offer a very open set of API interfaces, which enables us to bring some of the well-known applications in a supporting capacity alongside our transport backbone. This covers dynamic optimisation and planning – Paragon or PTV for example – and also in the execution for telematics, vehicle tracking and electronic ePOD. While we have our own ePOD we also work with Microlise who provide telematics and their SmartPOD. Additionally, we secure a lot of lead generation through our strong relationship with TomTom. TomTom's back-end Webfleet solution is well-established and provides vehicle tracking, and navigation with the TomTom head units combined."

Renshaw said customers like this type of open-stance service because, with such a wide portfolio of solutions to choose from, the user is more likely to secure an ideal fit for their particular needs with regard to warehousing and logistics. He added that another advantage of this type of service is that if a customer has already made a commitment to, for example, a routing and scheduling company they want to be able to make use of that system without having to replace it.

Paul explains that with Cloud-based solutions, supply chain companies can get real-time access to information throughout the logistics ecosystem, which they can then share across the organisation. "This improved efficiency offers a streamlined system, making for faster delivery and an optimised service," he said. "The greater visibility supplied from this software means that businesses can offer faster delivery, with greater flexibility in delivery types, such as selecting timeslots, click-and-collect, and same-day delivery. This therefore gives businesses the capacity to offer customers a more personalised and consultative service, thereby meeting the needs of the demanding modern customer."

Better end-to-end insight

Paul added that logistics companies need to ensure that they are supported by their TMS provider to meet these high expectations. "TMS partners must be able to supply businesses with better insight into how the supply chain is performing from end-to-end, so they can anticipate and prevent problems, quickly respond to any issues that do arise, and plan better for the future," he stressed. "What's more, as partner-to-partner sharing increases, with transparent processes ensuring that all parties have access to the information they need, businesses will be able to drive efficiency and results across the whole supply chain. The adoption of new transportation management software can help fully synchronise various supply chain operations, from procurement to transportation, making for a deeply interconnected and optimised supply chain ecosystem."


Have changes in transportation legislation (either locally or globally) influenced the development of Transportation Management systems over the past year or so? Venkatraman pointed out that with increasing changes with regard to technology, legal regulations to tighten security are constantly evolving. "Vendors should be able to accommodate these regulatory changes in the system as quickly as possible to prevent cyber-attacks, changing privacy rules and data breach," he said. "TMS solution providers must constantly monitor the evolving regulations from National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA), European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) and data privacy rules in various countries across the supply chain."

Security and confidentiality

Are there any remaining security & confidentiality concerns at the more 'mobile' end of the transportation management solutions space? Beck explained that, in the case of inet, the company developed a Cloud TMS from day one. "Hence, a mobile device is just another user interface to us and is validated and checked against the same high-security quality assurance processes as our desktop web interfaces," he said.

Briggs made the point that with the imminent approach of GDPR legislation, companies are evaluating what permission they need to secure from customers to gather and retain their name and signature for proof of delivery, as well as reviewing data retention and security for existing and new systems.


What are some of the current key areas of differentiation within the TMS marketplace? Venkatraman cites investment in R&D, the accelerated focus on Cloud TMS offerings, solid functional support for the needs of 3PL and freight brokerage, globalisation, quicker implementation timeframes, deployment models, partner collaboration and the use of intelligent technologies such as machine learning, IOT, AI etc. to accelerate supply chain innovations. "Frost & Sullivan believes that although functionality advancements can be a differentiator, it is not the only criteria to evaluate a vendor," he clarified. "TMS customers must analyse the organisational needs with vendor capabilities such as market presence, pricing, customer experience, operational competence etc. before selecting the vendor."

De Muynck considers that the differentiation question really depends on who the target end-users are. "Many end-users don't have a lot of complex requirements," he said. "They have a lot of choice and there is not that much differentiation between the vendors. However, if you look at the vendor community as a whole the big differentiation is in terms of what can they support from a geographical perspective. For example, there are vendors who only serve maybe one country or a few countries, then we see some that are more regional – across Europe or across North America for example. Then we see a much smaller group of vendors who truly are global vendors. If you are a global company looking for one solution across the world or you want to sell in all these regions there aren't many vendors who can really offer that other than company such as Oracle, SAP, JDA and Descartes. BluJay is becoming a much larger global vendor as well."

De Muynck also made the point that not every vendor is comfortable working in any industry. "Healthcare is different to retail, retail is different automotive, automotive is different to construction and so on," he said. "So, depending on your particular industry you might want to look at specific vendors' solutions because they might just focus on, say, four or five industries. There are very few companies – and again it's typically the larger vendors – who really have a footprint of TMS customers across all the different industries."

Continuing the differentiation theme, Vernon comments that it has been no small move for leading vendors such as Oracle to move to Cloud and SasS and to understand that this is how more and more users want their TMS functionality delivered. However, he added that things can get tricky from a security and control perspective. "You have a TMS and you want to plug into all these external sensing devices and external data feeds such as web content and social media. This can create a lot of overheads for you from a security and connectivity perspective – it makes it a lot easier to pass that over to your software vendor. Cloud solution vendors have one solution for security that they can apply across multiple customers instead of you have to buy it and manage yourself. I think that type of benefit is driving a lot of adoption."

Looking beyond functionality

Beck considers that there are many ways to compare the functionality of a TMS. "We are convinced that it is also important to look beyond functionality and to understand the company's vision in order to gain a more holistic insight into their future viability," he said. "At inet, we strongly believe in our vision of 'creating a collaborative world'. Thus, we aim to strengthen bonds with other companies, drive the creation of the largest carrier community, provide networks and possibilities to connect and reuse. Our strategic focus in the coming year is to enable a transparent and meaningful platform to excel our customers' business."

Renshaw believes one of the key differentiators for OBS Logistics is the fact that the company offers more than just TMS. "We also offer WMS and delivery management all through a single application," he explained. "This is attracting a lot of interest because some TMS applications focus purely on planning, and some focus on the last mile of the delivery only whereas we are able to cover everything from collection to final delivery."

Renshaw added that some solutions are suitable for home transport and some are suitable for sub-contract work, whereas OBS Logistics can cater for both. He also made the point that some systems focus very much on vehicle management, while some just focus on visibility. "So, the big differentiator for us is we have a total solution spanning everything from order receipt, planning, execution, picking in the warehouse (if required) and collection to final delivery – and covering home transport and sub-contract," he said.

Renshaw also explained that as well as being an in-demand solutions provider in the world of third-party logistics, OBS Logistics is increasingly seeing its systems being used for in-house logistics operations as well. Moreover, he pointed out that when OBS Logistics competes for a contract it generally competes with companies that pull together a solution from multiple vendors rather than offering a fully integrated package themselves.

Challenges of network growth and market volatility

What do some of our vendor commentators consider to be one or two of their flagship application success stories within the transportation management arena? inet presents AGCO as an example of one of the company's customer success stories. The internationally operating manufacturer of agricultural equipment was searching for a Logistics 4.0 solution to address its decentralised logistics structure. Network growth and market volatility posed constant challenges on AGCO's inbound logistics. With the inet TMS, 1500 suppliers and more than 70 carriers were connected to inet's Cloud-based platform throughout Europe. On-time delivery performance and process compliance were increased by 10% and 15% respectively, and carbon emissions reduced by 14%. The total costs of the European operations were cut by 28%, therefore soon afterwards the solution was rolled out to the US and China.

Streamlined systems

Trust Forwarding, one of Scandinavia's top freight forwarders and a division of SAS Cargo Group A/S. The company selected BluJay's Global Trade Network to increase its business efficiency, run cost control in-house, and improve its integration with partners and customers. After decades of using a manual on-premise system, BluJay supplied Trust Forwarding with an integrated, Cloud-based TMS platform to bring the company into the future. With BluJay's TMS platform, Trust was able to streamline its transportation management systems, ensuring that it could generate orders automatically, manage its costs with greater transparency and interact with partners no matter where in the world they were based. The Cloud solution was easy to implement and had proven results, with a high capacity for integration with external stakeholders, giving Trust the confidence that its systems would be up and running as soon as possible.

Increased service quality

How do you automatically transfer information on the position of a truck belonging to a short-term transport partner with a different telematics provider into your own transport management system? The large freight forwarder and ELVIS-member, Spedition Schwarz, approached TimoCom with that very question. Together with the internationally active IT specialist Arvato Systems, TimoCom developed an interface to meet the company's needs. This interface allows TimoCom customers to receive and process GPS information from transport service providers they have hired whenever they need to. Moreover, other systems can access the GPS data and retrieve it in a unified format. This increased service quality and customer satisfaction for transport orders. Thanks to the GPS interface, Spedition Schwarz can automatically see if a transport partner has been delayed and inform its customer directly. Considering that there are up to 100 trucks hired by Spedition Schwarz via TimoCom's transport platform every day, the interface saves the company a lot of time and keeps it fully informed.

To use the interface, customers simply require the tracking solution available free of charge to all TimoCom users. Even smaller companies can thus use the tool to increase their competitive edge. Other interested customers now also have access to the TimoCom GPS interface. For the transport industry, this means that even short-term transport relationships can be automatically and digitally tracked using the interface. In turn, this helps both business partners to achieve higher transparency, quality and security.

Sustainable same-day delivery solution

CarPal's SaaS last-mile delivery platform puts emphasis on customisation, automation and visibility through smart features that help operations managers gain efficiency and scalability for their business. One case example is a large logistics company for which CarPal implemented changes through tech. The global logistics company aims to innovate and expand its business offerings to include same-day delivery. In order to gain competitive edge, the company needs to adapt to the changing landscape to serve their customers better. It needs to layer a technological solution on top of its existing services in order to cater to the last-mile space in Asia Pacific. More specifically, the company needs smart routing algorithms that will ease the stress in daily operations of on-demand deliveries. To enter the last-mile space, the company decided to work with an integrated solution and an experienced team that helps the company to enable same-day delivery. The solution provided is creating optimal routes with a given set of criteria; including number of locations, items to deliver and vehicle capacity. It also benefits from Smart Routing: the goal is to create a sustainable same-day delivery solution that enables the company to fulfil orders by using a routing system that ensures each resource has as many locations as possible while delivering on time and driving the most efficient route.

Logistics in healthcare

OBS Logistics' CALIDUS TMS plays a large part in the success of DHL Supply Chain's daily operations within the healthcare logistics marketplace. DHL Supply Chain users include Janssen Cilag, Smiths Portex, GSK, Roche, Bayer, Boehringer Ingleheim and Pfizer. The outsourcing of logistics services is playing an increasingly important role in the life sciences and healthcare industry. With its extensive industry knowledge, certified facilities and processes, DHL Supply Chain offers flexible solutions that comply with all legal requirements.

The strict regulations and quality standards of the life sciences and healthcare market are taken very seriously by DHL. Nigel Underwood, CIO, DHL Supply Chain, said of the CALIDUS solution: "The Warehouse Management System is a key component of our Healthcare solution set, which we are continuing to develop and enhance in our bid to become the leading global supplier of innovative supply chain solutions." Paul White, IS director healthcare, added: "The capabilities of the system are a great fit for the demands of the healthcare sector. This combined with GAMP validation provides us with a competitive edge across all our target markets including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and consumer healthcare. We count 9 of 10 global pharma companies as system users, along with leading organisations in each of the other sectors." Ben Gilkes, head of IS for healthcare & technology at DHL, commented: "We were pioneers in validating logistics systems for healthcare companies and it certainly helped to be working with professionals like OBS. A true partnership."

Future developments

What might be the next key developments within the TMS and related solutions marketplace for in the near future? Besides what is happening inside the systems from an execution perspective, De Muynck thinks some of the developments we will continue to see evolve will revolve around analytics. "We have advanced from typical business intelligence and dashboards to what we call predictive analytics where we can take all that data and make predictions based on history or based on the current information as well as bring in lots of other system information," he said. "One of the next big steps we will see over the next few years will be the further move towards prescriptive analytics. Not only will the systems be able to say what is going to happen, they will also be based on learning and what you're doing. So, they could say based on what has happened these are the three alternatives we suggest, this will be the impact of the customer, this will be the impact on you the shipper, this will be the impact on the carrier, these are the cost options and then leave you to make the choice. Then, a further step would involve automation; instead of a human making the decision based on the prescriptive analytics, the system itself could make the decision – the process becomes automated."

Vernon comments that in the world of supply chain analytics, AI and routing optimisation, modern transportation management do a good job on the whole. However, be believes there is a way to enhance this functionality with machine learning, pattern recognition, fraud analysis and things that are available now in the data science world. "There are now valuable ways to enhance what a TMS can offer as far as value is concerned. So, outputs can be taken from, say, route optimisation, and applying machine learning against this to try to learn from it and then return results back to the TMS so that the recommendation results can be put into the workflow, hopefully resulting in an improved outcome. This model is getting traction and will expand. One of the reasons it will expand is because these trailer and shipment movements and that asset management of the fleet all fit together nicely. This will especially impact in a positive way on people who own their own fleet. So, again, it's what's happening out there in the AI world across multiple industries. It has a very attractive and straightforward business case path for transportation management and it's already started and will continue to grow."

Additional insights

Ball reiterates that we have seen major advances in GPS and telematics and concurs with Vernon that we are now starting to see AI added to this technology space, offering a number of additional potential insights. "You might find, for example, that shipping out of Shanghai in the afternoon results in more damage than if you were to ship out of Shanghai in the morning. Or it could be the case that it is better to take the northern route at this time of the year because the seas are more choppy on the southern route. Or it might become known that a company using different types of equipment incures less insurance costs than you do. The point is you may come up with ideas and ways to further optimise your process that you had never thought of before. This type of sophistication is going to happen."

Ball also considers that block chain is going to have increasing impact on movement of goods, settlement of transactions and moving through global networks. First, he believes block chain will get more traction on domestic networks were things can be controlled better.

Venkatraman believes the uberisation of freight, end-to-end supply chain visibility resulting in shorter lead times and lower costs, digitisation and implementation of Big Data & Analytics will be key product differentiators in the market. Hemmes maintains that innovation is the key to success and growth, and sees new developments arising that will have the power to change how logistics will function on a day-to-day basis. In 2018, Hemmes foresees delivery management gaining more traction through automation, digitalisation and personalisation. In his view, some key trends are:

  • The 'control tower' concept – taking full ownership of your operations through visibility and control.
  • The 'hybrid fleet' model – democratising in-house and public fleets to better manage the increase of order volume during peak seasons.
  • Predictive analytics – planning operations in advance by having easy access to rich data
  • AI & Machine Learning – using sophisticated algorithms to fast-track processes and become more efficient as a business.

Hemmes' predictions for the next coming years include the following:

  1. Data-as-a-Service – Leveraging DAAS to collect data from your system and use it to optimise and grow your operations. "With DAAS, companies will be able to access real-time data streams and use the information to create comprehensive reports that serve as a base for optimisation," he said. "This means more control over the business through actionable reports and more decision-making power."

  2. Shared warehousing – The gig economy will allow companies to take advantage of urban warehouse spaces to have easy access to products for fast deliveries. "This is where companies can tap on crowdsourced warehouses and 'rent' space from other existing networks that have strategic locations," explained Hemmes. "The value proposition for shared warehousing is that you don't have to run out of space during the peak volume periods, but also don't need to pay for excess space during lax periods."

  3. Crowdsourcing public fleets – Democratising fleets to accurately utilise resources and maintain a high fulfilment rate. "The idea of tapping on a hybrid feet means you need to take into consideration planning your internal operations and delivery teams to determine the distribution of the resources to minimise cost and maximise fulfilment rate for you daily deliveries," Hemmes pointed out. "The purpose behind this scenario is that even complex delivery operations can be streamlined. Smart algorithm would help companies crunch all the data and factor in things like capacity, weight, volume, and priority status. This would result in an automated and sustainable resource allocation ran at the most optimal rate."

Briggs cites apps developed for Android; therefore, people using consumer devices. However, he adds that consumer devices do not support barcode scanners. "Phone cameras are not good to capture barcodes; especially if we are faced with doing a lot of scanning in poor lighting," he said, adding: "Microsoft exited the market – so all development platforms are likely to remain Android (and to a lesser extent IOS)." In terms of further changes with regard to end-user requirements over the coming year or two, Briggs points to the DPD (Dynamic Parcel Distribution) effect – keeping in touch with partners – and taking ad hoc card payments.

Responding to Brexit

Renshaw explained that OBS Logistics has looked at what might be the impact on its solutions due to Brexit. "We see that there will be a lot more import-export," he said, "and because of the breadth of our solution we are looking to be able to offer what could be described as a terminal operation-type solution. At a port ships are arriving, containers are being unloaded and goods are being taken to a warehouse. As a logistics company you might be managing a transport operation that is doing the collections, scheduling the deliveries and maybe scheduling the returnable containers into the yard before they are re-loaded onto the ship. So, OBS Logistics is looking to combine our yard management capability with our WMS and transport planning and scheduling capability to be able to operate at these sites; providing a total solution that can be offered as a managed service, together with customs-related functionality for clearance and so on. So, transportation will be a part of what is an import-export terminal operation."

Paul reflects that enough is never enough in our modern world. "As technology continues to develop, customer expectations will only increase," he said. "Our modern society is always looking for faster and better operations. With this in mind, a TMS that can keep up with this pace of change is integral. BluJay's Global Trade Network supplies the resilience needed for that crucial competitive advantage." Paul added that Cloud computing eliminates the high upfront costs that used to come with on-premise logistics solutions. "Fast and clear ROI allows businesses to plan better for the future," he said. "The Cloud has made it possible for business of all sizes to tap into technology that can streamline their supply chains and boost visibility. Over the coming year, as Brexit negotiations continue to rumble on and customer demand grows yet more intense, businesses will need an adaptable TMS with proven results to provide long-lasting, sustainable benefits."

Gburek reminded us that last summer TimoCom launched its newest application, TC Transport Order, which allows for digital completion of transport orders. "Over the course of this year, we will be adding new helpful features to the program," he explained. "Our users can look forward, among other things, to individual customer statistics on their own transactions, digital administration of all transport orders regardless of whether the client is already using TimoCom or is not yet a customer, and e-mail notifications regarding lucrative transport requests. These updates optimise requests for transport and fulfilment of transport orders via TC Transport Order - perfectly in line with efficient process optimisation."

Beck foresees the movement from monolithic applications to more granular Cloud-based micro services delivered via SaaS models. He believes this will have a major impact on the TMS industry. Secondly, Beck anticipates that human-based decision making will decrease as AI and machine learning advance rapidly – for example, with regard to route and network optimisation. Lastly, Beck comments that real-time collaboration across the globe poses a new challenge that could be called 'the globalisation of data'. "Vendors increasingly have to think of how to make their data, not just their application work globally," he said. "That raises questions like: How do you create good, real-time data in a supply chain network that spans across different time zones and regulatory jurisdictions?"

Slicing and dicing

In terms of changing end-user requirements, Beck makes the point that with the rise of micro services, mobile phones and Cloud-based services, end-users already require functions to be easily accessible online, customisable, integrated with existing operations and in fast or in real time. However, in the near future, Beck believes these requirements will extend to data itself. "If you think of analytics for instance, users will not just accept retrospective metrics and analytics but ask for real-time data that allow them to slice and dice the information as they need it," he said.

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