Transportation Management Systems (TMS) can unlock a wide variety of benefits for carriers of all sizes, and the potential of the systems is massive. Over the years these platforms have continued to evolve to include additional features and capabilities, helping fleets operate more efficiently and effectively, and ultimately, make more money.
We caught up with Jay Delaney, portfolio manager for Trimble Transportation (formerly the senior director of product management), to talk all things related to TMS and learn how Trimble is investing in these increasingly sophisticated solutions for on-premise and cloud-based users, enabling fleets to participate in the connected supply chain of the future.
Let’s start with a little about your background. How did you wind up at Trimble and what is your current role?
TMS solutions are essential to many carriers. Tell us more about some of the operational efficiencies a fleet’s TMS can unlock.
The high-level answer is that a TMS can show you how you’re making money, and help manage it for you. At its core, the primary benefit of a TMS is matching demand with capacity. It’s all about pairing the right load with the right driver, at the right time – and making that trip in the most efficient manner and at the lowest cost possible.
At a glance, that may sound like a simple task, but it’s anything but simple. There are thousands of variables to consider on a daily basis, which a TMS can account for and ensure that nothing is missed. A TMS manages orders coming in, allows fleets to provide rates and quotes, manages customer onboarding and relationships, makes sure parties are paid on time and more. That’s a lot of work taken off the shoulders of back-office staff, allowing them to focus on other areas of the business and utilize their time for more complex, human-oriented work.
Fleets operating without a TMS are unfortunately probably leaving something behind, or turning a smaller profit – and it can be difficult for them to see their blind spots; they may not realize they’re losing money until it’s too late.
What are some of the trends you’re seeing around TMS today?
Even as far back as the 1980s, those of us in the transportation industry knew the value of data and what it could enable, if plugged into the right solutions.
I’m happy to say that today, with all of the data we have access to, we are in a position to use that data in really exciting and unique ways to move the transportation industry forward. A TMS is a great solution for utilizing that data in extremely actionable ways, including helping carriers and shippers work more closely together in a collaborative way.
What role does the cloud play in the future of TMS technology?
Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions are the future. Why? Utilizing the cloud empowers customers with scalable, subscription-based platforms designed to fit their precise needs and adapt as their business grows. This also includes allowing users to take advantage of new software releases via managed updates, eliminating the need for customers to upgrade their systems manually.
The benefits aren’t limited to those using a cloud-based TMS though. Trimble supports both our cloud-based and on-premise TMS customers by constantly improving and developing new SaaS features and functionality that work with both cloud-based subscription models and existing on-premise TMS.
How can Trimble TMS users leverage cloud-based technology in their business?
By transitioning from an on-premise TMS to the cloud, customers can realize the benefits inherent to a multi-tenant, SaaS-based solution, including eliminating required maintenance and integration costs; improving the user experience and making remote user access easier.
The ability to integrate solutions between multiple vendors, platforms and solutions is also increasingly important these days. Moving to the cloud also enables users to better manage and control their integrations and data. Trimble’s Trust Center solution allows carriers to control what data they share, with whom, and for how long. We know that although some sharing may be necessary to enable closer collaboration between parties, fleets may wish to keep some of their data confidential, so giving customers greater control over the information they’ve shared via integrations is of utmost importance.
Can on-premise Trimble TMS users also take advantage of these cloud-based innovations?
Some of our TMS customers want to maintain their on-premise versions to address their business-specific needs. We will continue to support these customers while ensuring they can also take advantage of new cloud-based features and functions within their on-premise TMS.
One such example is our Trimble Dispatch Advisor, a cloud-based solution that our on-premise customers can leverage within their TMS to optimize dispatch operations to reduce empty miles, improve service and increase utilization. Likewise, our ContainerIQ product is another cloud-based solution that can also be harnessed by on-premise TMS users to help intermodal and drayage carriers enhance their management and visibility of shipping containers.
We have and will continue to introduce these cloud-based features and functions to help meet the needs of customers across our broad portfolio of both on-premise and cloud-based TMS solutions.
How is Trimble utilizing TMS to connect shippers and carriers?
When I think about my career experiences on both the carrier and shipper side, I am reminded of the enormous amount of time and resources spent on trying to match loads with capacity, which could be more easily accomplished in a singular platform.
Trimble’s 2020 acquisition of Kuebix is central to achieving that collaboration, allowing us to break down technology barriers through a cloud-based platform to provide actionable visibility and improve collaboration.
We are already delivering on this through the Community Load Match platform, which pairs Trimble’s carrier customers with our community of more than 26,000 shippers ‒ an unparalleled combination that can help both our carrier and shipper customers operate more effectively and efficiently together.
Beyond TMS, how is Trimble focused on innovation in other parts of its business?
Trimble’s Connected Supply Chain vision is centered on helping all aspects of the transportation ecosystem work more collaboratively and effectively. And this vision extends beyond just our portfolio of TMS platforms.
For our in-cab, fleet management platform this means streamlining driver workflows with intuitive solutions that empower drivers to make the most of their available hours. Our strategy is also centered on ensuring a seamless flow of driver and vehicle data to key back office systems, enabling fleets to make informed decisions about their operations to maximize utilization, safety and efficiency.
The benefits of cloud-based technologies are a key component of further enhancing our asset maintenance solutions, too. By helping asset maintenance users harness the performance, security and scalability of the cloud, they can utilize this technology to maximize vehicle uptime, reduce unplanned maintenance and improve efficiencies throughout the entire lifecycle of their assets and equipment.
What role do integrations and partnerships play in this innovation?
One of the important ways we help our customers is through the depth and breadth of our partnerships and integration capabilities. As we continue to focus on our technological innovation, building on our existing integrations and partnerships (as well as forging new ones) is an essential part of delivering on our Connected Supply Chain vision.
Across our entire product portfolio, our integration strategy is centered on helping customers enhance connectivity to the transportation supply chain, both through Trimble technology and through integrations to the diverse range of third-party solutions that they rely on to help improve collaboration and connectivity.
Anything else you’d like to share?
A TMS can’t operate to its full potential independently and in isolation, which is why we’re investing in building out new solutions, modules and features, and re-architecting existing integration connections that will enable all Trimble TMS customers to connect to a wider array of vendors and solutions, regardless of what company’s solutions they are using – ultimately providing more value and enabling more meaningful benefits.
Make the most of TMS innovations with Trimble
Curious to learn how to take advantage of cloud-based TMS solutions to improve your operational performance and efficiency?
Contact us today to learn more about Trimble’s extensive TMS portfolio and how we are committed to helping supply chain stakeholders like you reach new levels of collaboration and connectivity.