TMS Tower

Stacking your TMS Tower

At a time when technology and software solutions are playing a larger and more critical role for freight forwarders, carriers and traders, our Ted Roth explains what exactly needs to be in a TMS Tower.

Between what I have read in the trade press and what I have heard in conversations with others in the industry here in Sweden and elsewhere, I think it is safe to say that there is some disagreement, debate, and maybe even confusion over what goes into a good TMS Tower.

Importantly, the discussion comes at a time when technology and software solutions are playing a larger and more critical role for freight forwarders, carriers, traders, and anyone else involved in the business for global trade or who works with a company that is.

A recent Market Study Report shows that the global Transportation Management Systems (TMS) market was valued at $1.8 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $3.6 billion by the end of 2024, growing at an annual rate of 14.8% between 2019 and 2024.

  • That’s a staggering increase and it shows, among many other things, how companies that have the right TMS solutions in place will be both competitive and market leaders in the years to come.
  • But when it comes to a TMS Tower – now the subject of immense interest driven at least in part by the described market growth – what exactly is the right solution?
  • Below are seven areas I think are key for putting together a solid tower both now and down the road.
Freight procurement: This means you will need quotation tools that handle and compare new and historical data and a system that provides spot quotes and spot tendering inclusive of marketplace functionality.
A comprehensive carrier solution that tells you how many carriers are internationally connected; includes support for all 4 transport modes (train, road, sea, and air) and supports multi-leg bookings, such as road, sea, and late flight.
Complete customs integration, including import and export filing, inward and outward processing relief.
Logistics planning: This would include a number of features critical to your operation, including order planning, transportation planning, automatic logic for choice of carrier based on lead time, price and assessment, multi-leg plans, routing logic, and driver planning.
Considering all the attention now being paid to visibility as well it is clear it needs to be included in any tower. That means features like track and trace, via telematics, status events from the carriers, app support, the sharing of documents from order to delivery, loading dock scheduling, visibility from sales orders to delivery, such as to catch all “internal” events and  “heat maps.”
Business intelligence tools, including analysis reports and configurable score cards and oversized images in the solution.
And finally, top notch compliance screening that covers denied party screening and export controls.
Other items to mention as well: load control, claim management, C02 footprint, and language support.
Clearly, what will go into a solid TMS Tower in today’s competitive, difficult, and rapidly changing global trade environment is something of a barometer for what we are seeing now in our industry and will see in the years ahead.
If you have questions, please reach out to me at AEB or through my channel on LinkedIn.