Transportation management system software, commonly referred to with the TMS acronym, has evolved from native applications to increasingly cloud-based platforms providing tools designed to help fleets more efficiently manage logistics from the back office.
While the trucking industry is largely made up of small fleets, traditionally such systems were marketed toward larger businesses. Tom Wulf, senior vice president of sales and strategic partnerships for Trucker Path, said his company’s research has found that only 33% of fleets with 10 trucks or fewer use a TMS of any kind. Yet as online, cloud-based systems and in-cab technology have matured, increasingly platforms have risen that are specifically designed and manageable for, and useful to, any-size fleet, even a one-truck independent.
“What we want to do is even the playing field for those guys, so those owner-operators and small fleets can compete with the big guys with an affordable solution,” Wulf said of his company's own Command system, one of three TMS platforms detailed in this feature. Wulf added that it's his belief that use of a TMS can be a step toward better business for the smallest carriers.
"It helps them manage their business with analytics,” he said, referencing one capability of centralized business management.
Depending on the platform, a TMS might help streamline dispatching, invoicing, routing, document and customer management, communication to and from the road, and more, freeing up time for owners to devote to building new customer relationships, better handling maintenance ... putting new time investment where it's needed, simply put.
As Lynks TMS Director of Operations George Thellman noted, his company's platform is aimed at easing the burden of managing business processes as fleets grow, easing the digital handoffs between carriers and a growing customer base.
There are numerous TMS on the market to choose from, including systems geared toward specific freight niches in trucking, the case for example of Ship.Cars, in use by Taurus Auto Group owner Slava Sobetki's car-haul operation.
Follow the links below for the stories of three owners putting relatively new TMS platforms to good use, achieving and/or setting the stage for growth.