2 Signs Your TMS is Holding Your Supply Chain Back

Shipment_Order_PageIn logistics, your Transportation Management System (TMS) can be your supply chain's best friend, or it can be its biggest hindrance. Some are cutting-edge and can do anything you need, but some seem as old as computers themselves, lacking anything remotely intuitive. Overall, you want a TMS that benefits your one-of-a-kind company - and that may mean switching if you're experiencing these two major issues:

  1. Silos

To say that something is “siloed” is to say it exists in a silo separated from other tasks, processes, or systems. Much like on a farm, where different types of crops are stored in separate silos, systems are often siloed as well. Maybe you are using a TMS that provides the locations of your trucks at any given time, and you are also using an ERP system that shows which parts from which suppliers are currently in transit. This is great information - but if they exist in separate systems, there are inherent issues.

Let’s say that you have two trucks arriving on the same day from the same supplier, carrying two different parts. Your TMS shows two trucks in transit. Then you look in your ERP which shows two parts - but which part is on which truck? If one part is more critical than another, and one truck experiences an unplanned delay, then that suddenly becomes an important question to which you need an immediate answer. Your systems aren't integrated to provide this information - which can ultimately lead to issues in production and customer service.

2. Manual Processes

Have you ever found data in your TMS that didn’t seem right? For example,say your trucks typically have names that follow a “TM***” format but you find a truck named “TN123.” Because of this, your dock turns the truck away because its name is unrecognizable. And it turns out to simply be a clerical error. Your company has someone manually keying in each and every truck name since your TMS is not capable of auto-generating them based on a standard format. Problems like this are typical in a TMS, as several processes can be very manual.

So what can we do about these problems?

Ensure You Are Using Quality Software.

This might seem like the obvious answer, to which you might say “easier said than done.” After all, changing to a new system requires taking years of data and loading it into a brand new environment, which could take weeks or even months. Some systems aren’t easy to use; others are not scaled to meet specific business needs. Consider the alternative, however. If you have a TMS that routinely hinders your customer service, then you can’t afford not to make a change. 

Leverage Reporting Functions for Visibility.

Look for ways to create reports and visuals in your tools that can be referenced for quality checks. In the case of the incorrect route name, a simple report would have helped highlight the issue before it became a defect. And the more visibility you can provide to stakeholders, the better.

It’s hard to believe that with technology advancing faster than ever before, companies would be reluctant to invest in a system that delivers reduced costs, increased operational efficiency, and improved customer service - not to mention less burden on their team members. While TMS systems offer a broad range of functionality, integration and automation can provide a rapid return on investment and significant leaps for companies pursuing competitive advantage. 

Posted by Michael Burchett

Michael is a Business Systems Analyst at LeanCor Supply Chain Group. In his role on the development team, Michael supports the design and implementation of world class software in a project management and design capacity. He also develops internal mission-critical tools and mobile applications. Prior to his role as a Business Systems Analyst, Michael has been instrumental in supply chain optimization, inventory and transportation cost reduction, lean process improvement, and supplier development solutions for LeanCor Logistics customers. Prior to LeanCor, Michael served as a project manager for Lexmark International. He holds an MBA from the University of Kentucky Gatton School of Business.

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