A transportation management system (TMS) helps companies move freight from origin to destination efficiently, reliably, and cost-effectively. The primary reason companies buy a TMS is for freight savings. These freight savings can be attributed to simulation and network design, load consolidation and lower cost mode selections, and multi-stop route optimization. As freight costs have continued to rise, companies have looked more and more to their TMS to mitigate these rising costs. When a shipper decides it needs to improve its transportation performance, it typically attempts to achieve this by either buying a transportation management system (TMS) or outsourcing transportation planning and execution to a managed transportation services (MTS) provider. According to ARC Advisory Group research, among the shippers that successfully achieve significant reductions in freight savings, TMS and MTS perform roughly the same. However, when you look at the proportion of respondents that achieved negative results (increased freight costs) or no improvement in their freight spend, TMS appears to be the less risky investment. One question that always comes up is “who are the top TMS providers?”
ARC’s definition of TMS is freight centric. ARC does not include solutions that help companies move passengers more efficiently and solutions for mail. Transportation management systems include two types of solutions: planning & execution and fleet management.
Planning & Execution
A planning & execution application focuses on freight moves involving a carrier. The complete process would include procurement, creation of a route guide, planning and optimization, electronic communication with carriers (tendering), visibility and exception management, freight audit, and performance management. For international shipments, it would also include advance shipment notification to government authorities. Many solutions don’t support the end-to-end process described here. For classification purposes, if the solution includes a route guide, planning optimization, and electronic tendering/acceptance execution, it is included in this category.
Fleet management is an application for freight moves involving transportation assets owned by the company. The complete process would include routing and optimization, visibility and exception management (including GPS style solutions), transportation asset management, and performance management. Transportation assets include both power units and container cars. Many solutions don’t support the end-to-end process described here. For classification purposes, any solution that includes routing plus any of the other modules listed above will be deemed a fleet management solution.
Top TMS Providers
Based on ARC Advisory Group’s new global market report, the top TMS providers, listed alphabetically, are Blue Yonder, Descartes Systems, Oracle, SAP, and TMW Systems (Trimble Transportation. These providers have consistently been the top providers for nearly a decade. With their dedication to improved performance, technology advancements, and a solid focus on the future of AI, these suppliers have what is takes to remain the top TMS providers.
Blue Yonder is one of the largest providers of TMS, where it has particular strength in providing solutions to very large shippers with complex transportation. Its solution set includes a broad array of capabilities spanning tactical and strategic modeling, network rate procurement, planning and execution, visibility, and advanced analytics. The solution supports all modes, inbound and outbound, domestic and international, fleet management, and planning and execution solutions. The solution can be deployed in both a dedicated (single tenant) and a shared (multitenant) environment for both planning and execution. The traditional single-tenant solution can be either deployed behind the customer’s firewall or hosted in Blue Yonder’s cloud services or other cloud services.
Descartes Systems Group is a public company headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. The company provides applications in areas such as transportation management, routing, mobile and telematics, customs and regulatory compliance, global trade content, and broker and forwarder enterprise systems serving over 20,000 customers in more than 160 countries. Its solutions are based upon Descartes’ Logistics Technology Platform, which combine with its Global Logistics Network, one of the largest logistics networks providing application-agnostic connectivity to trading partners and ground, air, and ocean carriers. The acquisition of MacroPoint has added additional visibility capabilities, and the recent acquisition of Ground Cloud brings about added capabilities for last mile and telematics.
Oracle Transportation Management, its flagship product, is a component separate from its ERP solutions. Consequently, Oracle sells it both into its installed base and to customers with no Oracle ERP solutions that are looking for a best-of-breed solution. Oracle’s Global Trade Management (GTM) application is part of the OTM suite. OTM and GTM share a common data model, user interface, workflow, reporting, and integration. Oracle offers Oracle Transportation and Global Trade Management Cloud to combine and broaden the complex logistics requirements with global trade operations.
SAP TM is a holistic transportation solution that covers end-to-end business scenarios such as domestic and international inbound and outbound shipments. The solution offers out-of-the-box integration and synchronization with SAP ERP Central Component (SAP ECC), SAP Enterprise Warehouse Management, SAP Event Management, SAP Global Trade Services, SAP Environment, Health & Safety (SAP EH&S), and SAP CRM. The end-to-end transportation process starts with procurement; extends through contract management, planning and optimization, execution, and visibility; and ends with freight audit and pay.
A wholly owned subsidiary of Trimble, TMW is part of the Transportation and Logistics division that also includes PeopleNet, Alk Technologies, and TruckMate. Founded in 1983, TMW is one of the top suppliers of fleet management solutions. It provides ERP solutions for trucking companies, as well as standalone fleet management solutions that encompass static and dynamic routing, fleet planning, fleet maintenance, fuel optimization, fleet tracking, business intelligence, and other solutions as well. Optimization can encompass private fleet vs. common carrier moves or on the carrier side, whether it is more profitable for a carrier to move a load or broker it out to another party. The TMS suite includes order entry, visual dispatch, rating, invoicing and settlements, maintenance, accounting,