Leveraging Technology to Optimize Your Transportation Business

transportationThe transportation industry is currently facing a number of daunting challenges. New government policies and regulations and a worsening driver shortage are forcing transportation specialists to reevaluate and change their business practices. Thankfully, there are a number of new technologies available to help the industry get back on the right track.

Driver Scarcity

Over the past year, the U.S. has experienced moderate economic growth, which has resulted in more products being shipped. Although the uptick is relatively small, it has overwhelmed our nation’s existing shipping capacity. According to the American Trucking Association, the American transportation industry struggled with a shortage of 50,700 truck drivers in 2017 and this number is expected to grow in 2018. When a shipper has to search high and low through the carrier list to fulfill the demand, it puts unnecessary strain on cost, time, and service levels.

Impact of the ELD Mandate

In the U.S., government regulations are impacting the performance and profitability of logistics providers. For example, the 2015 mandate from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers to purchase and install electronic logging devices (ELD) in their vehicles. The ruling went into effect on December 2017 for semitrailers and, as of April 1, it applies to all commercial trucking operators.

Many large trucking companies invested in ELDs years ago, but smaller, independently-owned operators have not rushed to purchase this new technology. The expanded enforcement of these regulations promises to increase transit times and further strain capacity.

The Technology Solution

A robust Transportation Management System (TMS) can help transportation specialists overcome many of these business challenges. For example, a TMS can soften the impact of the current driver shortage by providing alternative and more efficient methods for finding capacity beyond a shipper’s core carrier base, including broadcast tenders, digital freight matching, spot bidding, and auctions. Users can also leverage a TMS’s strategic modeling capabilities to simulate the impact of these industry changes and test potential solutions.

Beyond addressing the challenges listed above, many TMS solutions utilize the latest mobile technologies to improve collaboration, connectivity, and real-time visibility with service providers. Almost every driver today has a GPS capable phone and the modern TMS leverages these devices to automate processes, improve service levels, enhance trading partner relationships, and mitigate risk.

Conclusion

In an increasingly regulated industry with rising costs and a decrease in driver availability, shippers must find a clear path to navigate the challenges and find success. By implementing a feature-rich TMS, shippers can improve compliance, reduce costs, and find alternative capacity when needed. At the same time, they can continuously analyze their business practices to make sure their company is performing at optimal levels, no matter the challenges that come.

Gregg Lanyard is director, product management for TMS at Manhattan Associates. He is responsible for driving strategy, roadmap, and marketing for all transportation solutions. He manages customer, partner, and analyst relationships, and supports Manhattan’s sales and services organizations.

Prior to joining Manhattan, he was senior principal product strategy manager at Oracle for nine years, responsible for defining and executing the strategy for Oracle’s Transportation Management solution. Prior to Oracle, Gregg served in senior product management roles at both Manugistics and CombineNet.  At Manugistics (now part of JDA Software), Gregg spent 12 years helping the company grow its industry leading transportation solution, as both a consultant and senior product manager.  At CombineNet (now part of SciQuest) a strategic sourcing software and solutions provider, Gregg served as Director of Product Management.

A graduate of Penn State University’s Business Logistics program, Gregg has over 20 years of experience working with logistics professionals to implement and design transportation management systems. He resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife and two children.