What’s a TMS System In Trucking And How Does It Work

Many people new to trucking don’t realize just how crucial logistics are. Trucking relies on multiple types of data to maintain shipping records, track delivery timetables, stay compliant with vehicle maintenance, and much more. Any trucking company can quickly become overwhelmed by spreadsheets and documents, which is where software comes in to save the day.

A TMS system, or transportation management system, is one of the most useful tools available today. Trucking companies can easily centralize and streamline all of their administrative tasks in one platform. This helps them stay on top of compliance, maintenance schedules and bookkeeping without having to manually update countless sheets and documents for every driver and carrier.

What Is TMS in Trucking?

A transportation management system (TMS) rests at the center of any successful trucking company. In the early days, a trucking company owner or owner-operator could get by with manual bookkeeping. However, as their client base grows, so does the paperwork.

The administrative side of trucking makes a full-time job in and of itself. You need an easy-to-use, visual platform that automates and streamlines processes. This saves time, money and reduces the likelihood of an oversight that could result in a hefty non-compliance violation fee.

Trucking TMS systems provide flexible frameworks and services for companies to manage their most important data. This can include load booking, dispatching drivers and tracking shipments that are on the road.

How Does TMS Software Work?

Transportation management solutions are a software-as-a-service (SaaS), and they typically run through a cloud. Hosting TMS software through the cloud ensures that your company will always have access to the most current data. Automated data updates ensure that cloud-based TMS software is always current and accurate. You can install TMS software on a computer in your office or home, but this comes with downsides. For starters, it will only be accessible through the computer it’s installed on. Cloud-based operations can be accessed anywhere.

By using a TMS software to automatically analyze, process and log data, trucking companies can save time, money and resources throughout the entire freight lifecycle.

With the updates in technology, TMS systems can be built around any size of company. There are some made for larger companies that have different features and options, these do also typically come with a larger price tag, but it could definitely be worth it to keep all of your data in one place. 

What Are The Benefits of a TMS?

Since there are many different types of TMS systems available on the market it is important for you to look into each kind and see which one will fit most efficiently with your business. While some might think that only large companies can benefit from TMS systems there is also a lot that smaller companies and owner operators could gain from using the proper TMS system. 

Sometimes when you are in the mix of the day-to-day business you might miss some of the little details that could make your company more efficient. If you have all of the data being tracked in a TMS system and you spend some of your weekend or mandatory break to look over the data that has been collected you could find ways to reduce some of your freight expenses and make your trips more efficient. 

Improve Company-Wide Collaboration

With remote trucking companies becoming the norm, it’s important to have information readily available for your team, no matter where they are in the world. Carriers and shippers from around the world can all access the same TMS.

When researching what TMS system you will need keep in mind how many people will need to have access to it. Some systems do not have equal access depending on who all would need to be able to use it. The main people that will need to access your TMS system in a trucking business would be your drivers, dispatchers and possibly a freight broker. 

Save Time With Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping for truckers includes everything from shipper packets to invoices and freight billing. You also have carrier profiles and client accounts to manage, which can easily become overwhelming with multiple freights and shipments at any given time.

With some carrier packets being twenty plus pages long, it’s nice to be able to load them into your system and see exactly what parts of the documents apply to you and your business. Being able to upload them quickly can sometimes be the difference in you getting the load or the next driver who has a more efficient system set up. 

Invoicing can also become much faster thanks to the integrated system. The TMS automatically audits transactions, issuing precise invoices and even distributing payments when processes are complete.

Provide Better Customer Service

The TMS trucking software plays a crucial role in improving supply chain management. Many carriers use several trucking companies to handle large freights, which means they always need updates on where each shipment is located.

With real-time visualization, a TMS helps dispatchers and brokers stay on top of deliveries. When a carrier calls and asks where their freight is, you can give them precise data that brings peace of mind and helps them mitigate any delays brought on by obstacles along the road.

Track Loads in Real-time

Trucking transportation management requires constant vigilance, but one person can’t track dozens of loads at a time.

A TMS can help you know exactly where a load is. And, it makes it easier to optimize routes, dispatch drivers and even quickly arrange transfers if the need arises. 

Book and Dispatch Loads in One Place

Another major benefit of transportation management software is the ability to book loads and dispatch drivers from the same platform. Some TMS systems allow you to book loads directy from load boards and plan your routes accordingly.

Regardless of where you get your loads, you can manage freight tendering, tracking and contract management simultaneously in one place. No interference on your end will impact the TMS software’s ability to record and file new data. So, even if you’re handling business with a carrier over the phone, the system will still perform its role and update accordingly.

How Much Does a TMS Cost?

For SaaS trucking transportation management solutions, companies are typically charged a monthly fee depending on what type of system they invest in. This price range is very wide depending on what you get and what all features you use. Most of the systems do offer a free trial period so that you can see what works for you and what doesn’t before shelling out a bunch of money for something that isn’t a good fit for your business.

Cloud-based trucking TMS systems are more budget-optimized than personal solutions. In addition to the software itself, your subscription comes with support from the developers and their support team. If you’re a small operation, make sure you choose a system that’s right for your business size. Otherwise, you’ll end up overpaying for overly complex software you don’t use.

Summary

TMS systems are great tools that those in the trucking industry can use to improve the efficiencies of their businesses. Whether you are a one-unit tractor business or a fleet with many trucks on the road there are always ways to improve how you run your business. In addition to centralizing most of their administrative tasks, a TMS also cuts down on errors, improves communication, saves time and enhances every step of freight management. 

When you’re ready to set your sights on a TMS as a new owner-operator or even a veteran of the trucking industry, look no further than Truckbase. Our lightweight TMS is perfect for those running one truck to small fleets. Learn more today by signing up for free.

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