How To Know What’s Missing From Your Logistics Technology Stack

(Even if you think of yourself as a tech-enabled shipper)

Here’s how every shipper can get more from logistics technology and build a complete platform to transform its transportation operations.

The value and importance of logistics technology for every company that ships anything is not up for debate anymore. So, even while some lagging companies may be slow to adopt automation or use technology to improve how their logistics department operates, smart shippers understand they need technology, like a TMS.

But what many companies don’t realize, sometimes even more progressive ones, is that a TMS is not always a complete solution by itself. Yes, a TMS performs many important tasks and is a cornerstone technology to better shipping execution, but it’s not the only part of a complete logistics technology stack.

Getting the most from a TMS requires connections outside the system to access the information that drives and makes it all it can be for users. With a TMS as the starting point, shippers can add pieces to create their own best combination of logistics applications and shipping-related data-sources.

The Most Important Step Towards a Complete LogTech Stack

When considering technology, most shippers’ priority is to connect their TMS to a source for rates, capacity, and tracking information. All are now easily integrated into modern TMS systems, primarily with pre-built APIs and EDI connectivity.

The reason most technology stacks take shape this way is because while a good TMS platform is a powerful tool, it’s only as good as the data available to it. A TMS can’t fix bad rates and routing decisions by users. It also can’t make up for non-existent or delayed tracking information missing from carriers. The good news is these are exactly the problems specialized logistics technologies solve. And together with a TMS, fill in the missing parts of any shippers’ technology needs.

Saying the only benefits of building on a TMS are lower rates (which many do) is selling the idea of what logistics technology can be short. The right integrated solutions can provide a TMS (and the shippers who count on them) advantages, including:

  • Qualified and pre-vetted carriers based on known needs and shipping patterns
  • Transparency into appropriate rates and transit-time options for all shipping modes
  • Faster access to capacity for difficult to cover loads
  • More in-depth and accurate data enabling strategic and data-driven decision making
  • Real-time track and trace
  • Better inventory visibility

Most shippers will see several advantages on this list as areas they’d like to improve within their logistics operation. Fortunately, each is also probably more attainable with technology than they realize.

Logistics Technology Is Easier Than You’d Think

Technology implementations have a bad reputation for being expensive and difficult to start using. This perception is a hold-over from the past when connecting systems and sharing data was hard. Modern platforms are built with the expectation that they need to be simple to start using and share data with other systems freely (most often through pre-built APIs.) There is also much more emphasis placed on the user experience with technology today, so training and operating costs are much lower.

The point is that using foundational technology like a TMS and building on it is the minimum you should be doing now. A well-planned technology stack is not difficult, nor is it expensive. And, having only basic logistics technology is not a way to be better than competitors; it’s a way to merely keep up. 

However, smart and progressive companies are aware of the benefits of combining exceptional logistics technologies can provide.

Interested in building on your TMS to improve your logistics tech stack? Download our eBook How To Level-Up Your Logistics Tech Stack (Without Heavy-Lifting) for everything you need to know.

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How We Help Our Clients Reduce Spot Market Exposure by 50%

On May 15, 2018, we wrote about the first fully automated intelligent routing guide with dynamic rates in the US. That powerful tool enables shippers to automatically book a truck before the shipment turns into a spot load and has reduced spot volume for Fortune500 Shippers by as much as 50 percent. Loadsmart accepts 100 percent of tenders received from the dynamic routing guide, guaranteeing capacity. This feature helps shippers avoid the same-day/next-day markets, which are known for steep prices and service failures. Given the huge interest and questions we got from the logistics community, we decided to expand and explain the reasoning behind it and how it actually works in a granular way.

At Loadsmart, our mission is to do more with less. That’s why we innovated with a major customer to help them drive down their spot market exposure by 50 percent. We worked with our customer to help them do more with less by pushing market-based truckload rates into their TMS for every load that goes through their routing guide. Simply put, we do three things:

  • Provide real-time pricing on every load in the routing guide via API;
  • Auto-accept every tender we receive;
  • Guarantee capacity for all of those auto-accepted tenders.

This explains how we went from participating in a daily spot auction via email to a full-fledged integration with our customer to reduce spot volume.

Read More »

Logistics technology eliminates deadhead miles to make the trucking industry more environmentally friendly

How Logistics Technology Can Save the Environment

We’ve talked about how logistics technology can save the industry, but did you know it could help save the environment, too? As a highly fragmented industry that’s severely lacking in technology, many trucks are running with little efficiency. If the trucking industry could eliminate its deadhead miles, trucks would spend less time on the roads, using less fuel and cutting down on emissions.

The Facts of the Matter: Deadhead Miles and the Trucking Industry

In a 700 billion dollar industry that moves 70% of all goods in the United States, there is little room for inefficiency. Class 8 trucks log over 130 billion miles a year, with nearly 20 billion of those considered deadhead miles. The trucking industry accounts for 12.8% of all fuel purchased in the U.S., which translates to 17.5 billion gallons in 2014 alone. By eliminating deadhead miles, the industry would save over 2.5 billion gallons of fuel every year. A decrease in fuel use and emissions will in turn reduce air, water and land pollution, acid rain and ozone destruction.

Real-Time Shipment Tracking and Notifications Eliminate Deadhead Miles

Real-time shipment tracking sounds pretty “Big Brother,” right? Well it’s not, in fact, real-time shipment tracking is one of the most powerful tools available to the industry, for shippers, carriers and the environment. Using GPS technology, logistics platforms are able to send carriers local jobs instantly, eliminating time usually spent at loadboards. When carriers are able to find loads via location instead of traveling back with an empty trailer, shippers receive better rates, drivers don’t have to waste time, extra trips are eliminated and the entire process is streamlined.

Fleet Management Makes For Better Business Decisions

Knowledge is power. It’s an age-old adage for a reason. When dispatchers and owners know exactly what’s going on with their drivers, via tracking, open communication platforms, instant e-document transfers and load organization tools, they are able to make better and more informed business decisions.

So What Does Logistics Technology Mean For the Environment?

With a growing number people in the industry transitioning to technology based platforms, the overall efficiency of the industry is poised to skyrocket in the coming years.Our goal is to bring the excess capacity to market and eliminate the billions of deadhead miles traveled every year. With an increase in efficiency, there will be a decrease in traffic, emission, safety and economic concerns. 

 

Freight management tools are the future of the industry

The Technological Touch: 3 Ways Logistics Technology Simplifies the Industry

As we mentioned before, there is and always will be a need for humans in the third party logistics business. A lot can go wrong out on the road, and it’s important to know that there’s a human on the other end that has your back. With that being said, logistics technology is not something to be overlooked. What can logistics technology do for you? Well…

Paperwork: Stop Faxing Your Bill of Lading

Imagine a world without paperwork. Impossible, right? Well yes, technically. But technology can help take the paper out of paperwork and make the entire process of freight management much more efficient. For instance, if the Bill of Lading could be automatically uploaded as soon as the delivery is complete, wouldn’t that make things much more simple? Or if there was a place to access and review past Bills of Lading, eliminating the mountains of paperwork you typically deal with? Well, there is a place to do this, and it does simplify freight management. With e-documents, all paperwork is in the palm of your hand and saved safely. No more lost documents.  And the best part? An added bonus? The efficiency allows everything to be completed and drivers to be paid in under 48 hours.  

Communication: Open Chat Rooms and GPS Sharing

While the days of stopping at a payphone are long gone, communication methods are still evolving. Cell phone calls and texting are commonplace, but they’re not always the most efficient solution when many parties are involved. That’s why a place where all parties can communicate freely without even exchanging numbers is an important tool to have. Broken down? Delayed? Ahead of schedule? An open communication platform combined with live GPS freight tracking prevents potential problems and keeps everyone informed.

Efficiency: Eliminate Empty Miles with Logistics Technology

Logistics and technology go hand-in-hand. The basic, yet constant supply and demand of the industry makes it easy to convert traditional methods to tech-based ones. With new logistics technology, shippers can easily post loads and carriers can easily accept them. Simple. Advances in logistics technology allow us to provide carriers with jobs that are tailored to their preferences and location, based on GPS freight tracking, eliminating deadhead miles and time wasted at loadboards.