Routing and shipping freight as efficiently as possible is a key hallmark of a good transportation management system (TMS), but it’s also only half of the equation. Leveraging a TMS to optimize your inbound shipments can also have a huge impact on the efficiency of your supply chain and costs. Let’s look at a few ways a transportation management system can accomplish that.

Continuous pool optimization for managing inbound shipments

Continuous pool optimization (CPO) allows shippers to plan shipments to a consolidation point by pre-determining a specific location or by allowing an algorithm to dynamically determine the optimal consolidation facility. In other words, the TMS identifies the best pool point for routing inbound freight on TL or LTL to plan loads for delivery.

These routes can then be “split”, allowing the execution of multiple movements into consolidation while delaying the determination of the outbound routing until more freight accumulates at the pool location or time limits require the freight to be released from the pool. Outbound routing from the consolidation facility can be executed independent from (but with consideration of) the inbound movement while still maintaining a single order for each leg of the journey. The beauty of CPO is that it allows users to be creative with routing based on what they know about their inbound freight without having to know all of the specifics, and that it can change dynamically as more information is gathered and inputted.

Control-tower visibility

Visibility into the inbound logistics flow means systematically interpreting and combining inter-enterprise data from many sources and using workflow automation to react. It’s assessing the past, monitoring/reacting in the present and adjusting for the future.

In the Logistics Management piece “Smooth out the inbound with TMS,” Chris Cunnane of ARC Advisory Group explains…

“It’s really all about visibility into freight—understanding where it is and when it’s going to arrive so that you can plan effectively at the DC. With good visibility, you don’t have trucks waiting around to unload with merchandise needed to fill pressing orders while other trucks with less time-sensitive inventory are unloading. Visibility helps with the labor management aspects as well. So the biggest thing a TMS can provide to improve inbound logistics is that visibility aspect.”

The 3Gtms Visibility Platform gives customers the ability to translate and share information from shippers, carriers, mobile applications, financial systems, emails, and portals and more, providing clearer insight through visibility-driven workflows. It delivers unprecedented enterprise visibility and new opportunities for cost savings, automation and efficiency when it comes to inbound shipments, including:

  • The ability to automate exceptions and respond faster to service disruptions
  • Improved control and visibility of trading partners with real-time freight information
  • Automatic identification of shipment problems and the ability to notify involved parties in advance
  • The ability to avoid possible disruptions before they happen by gathering, translating and applying analytics
  • Increased efficiencies by location; measure profitability by customer and leverage real-time margin calculations

A transportation management system is a significant investment, so make sure you’re maximizing your use of it. Examine ways it can help you better manage your inbound shipments for additional cost savings, efficiency, and a better experience for your customers.