One of the most important components of the supply chain is transportation, which typically includes procurement and shipping. Being able to track the arrival and departure of products and materials is vital for ensuring that the company does not fall behind on its schedule and that items are delivered on time. The different aspects of transportation required by a company can be handled internally, through a transportation provider, or a mixture of the two. For companies that handle their own transportation, licensing should also be tracked.
Most transportation management software handles four primary steps.
– Planning is the first step, and the most critical since every other aspect of logistics relies on timely and accurate transportation. Entering the required parameters helps to ensure that nothing is missed and that the decisions are based on things like cost, longest- and shortest-lead times, and maximum capacity for loads.
– Implementation of the plan needs to be tracked to make sure that the decisions and established timelines are met. Having software that ensures communication at designated checkpoints and relays the data to managers and other employees allows the company to track the loads to keep them on schedule. Should the schedule slip, customers can be notified and adjustments can be made.
– Processing the transportation data following the successful movement of goods is a way of verifying that agreements were met and that contractual obligations were fulfilled. Some companies also need to make sure that customs requirements are satisfied when moving goods and products. The final part of processing post-transportation activities is the scanning of signed documents. Having a paper trail with each shipment is necessary in case of audits, for billing purposes, and for future planning.
– The final step of transportation is obtaining the final weights and measurements. Regardless of whether the transportation is contracted out or done in-house, having weights and measurements are frequently required to optimize shipments. Having the right transportation management software ensures that each shipment carries the maximum capacity either into inventory or to the customer. Also, having this data stored and readily available means that the company will be able to devise a schedule based on the averages, particularly if the weight and measurements are standard.
In addition to the regular processes and concerns, companies will want a way of tracking the different methods of transportation. Changing fuel prices make transportation more difficult to properly cost. For shipments that are not contractually obligated to use a specific form of transportation, being able to monitor the various methods of shipping and receiving goods can mean saving a considerable amount of money. Route planning is essential for planning and executing transportation. If multiple types of travel are required, knowing the most efficient routes and detours can shorten the amount of time it takes to get from start to finish.
Being able to periodically pull data to generate reports allows the company to adjust plans and save on the cost of transportation. The ability to analyze the different aspects of transportation is one of the primary benefits of transportation management software.