When we think of automation in the logistics industry, the conversation often veers toward fancy, head-turning gadgets like self-driving tractors, or controversies over the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. However, in many ways, it’s freight tracking and other transportation management systems (TMS) that have quietly revolutionized the industry. In the past decade, these tools have leveled the playing field, giving smaller businesses the means to create more efficient, cost-saving truckload (TL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments. The following is a look at this silent revolution that transformed the industry.

How a TMS levels the playing field

In the past, a TMS was an expensive, sophisticated computer program developed to help manage and plan shipments. Due to its cost, a TMS was primarily used by large companies giving them a competitive advantage. Having this resource made large companies more efficient than their smaller competitors.

Now that the less expensive and smarter TMS is widely available, smaller companies have gained the same capabilities as their larger counterparts. In some cases, these newer tech tools are faster, easier to use, and more agile than the now-clunky, cumbersome legacy systems that the large companies are still using. With the use of a TMS, it’s now easier than ever to access TL and LTL shipments at the best prices. The new TMS lets you be competitive in a challenging marketplace.

A TMS means access to better, more efficient routes

At its most basic level, a TMS is a software solution (SaaS) that lets you compare rates and exact timelines between carriers. A TMS gives you the speed and power to make quick decisions on which carrier to use for your TL or LTL shipment. Even if you have pre-negotiated rates with other carriers, a well-designed TMS is customizable and lets you include that information. Whatever your needs happen to be, a TMS gives you the tools to plan the most efficient route.

Not only does a TMS offer access to exact timelines, but you and your customers also have access to the up-to-date tracking information. Tracking is not just a nicety. Tracking gives people essential data to carry on with business. A late shipment can mean anything from empty shelves to missed deadlines. This ability to monitor shipments is empowering for you and the customer. Access to data lets you plan with greater accuracy, so there are fewer disruptions in the supply chain.

A TMS helps you avoid unexpected costs

Here’s another way tech tools have revolutionized the trucking industry. Access to a TMS can help control your costs. As you know, planning an LTL or TL shipment has plenty of complexities, and understanding them and planning is how you reduce costs. Unless you were an expert level shipping manager, it was easy to overlook a crucial detail in your bill of lading that would lead to an accessorial charge. For example, you shipped to an address with no loading dock, but you wouldn’t know until after the fact when the carrier’s bill arrived with a liftgate fee. That liftgate fee is no small matter — it can add up to a hundred dollars or more to your shipping costs. Just like that, a profitable order is now a loss. Given the razor-thin profit margins that come with doing business in today’s world, you can’t afford these pricing hazards.

That’s where a well-designed TMS comes into play, and it’s a game-changer for a small business. This software comes with tools to help you anticipate and even avoid these unexpected costsIntegrated satellite mapping lets you confirm whether your shipping destination is accessible and has a loading dock. Now you can plan for or even prevent liftgate, limited access  and other potential accessorial fees.

Its pre-audit functionality ensures you’re paying accurate and planned charges and not wasting time down the road dealing with overcharges or undercharges. A transportation management system can also autocomplete recurring and return shipments, which saves time and reduces errors. These systems also flag missing and incomplete information about your shipment. When your outbound shipment is picked up, you can feel confident knowing every detail on your bill of lading is complete and accurate. You’ll reduce surprise LTL and TL shipment costs. And you’ll spend less time on labor-intensive tasks, so you can focus on growing your business.

Work with the SAV Transportation Group, and you can start to compare, price and create TL and LTL freight shipments using our SaaS solution. Designed by logistics professionals, you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips to generate freight shipments at the best prices and manage your freight spend with a highly intuitive TMS. Request a demo today.