4 pillars of a complete transportation management system

US$ 5 billion – That’s the projected investment in India’s logistics set-up by 2025. The message is clear, transportation management, not just in India but also the world, is at the cusp of a tech revolution.

We have been talking about industry 4.0 for a long time. However, like all overarching concepts, over time it took on multiple interpretations and definitions. Still, over the past decade, tech-backed complete transportation management has renewed the drive within industry 4.0.

India vs the United States – Logistics GDP share

India’s logistics spend is comparable to 14% of its GDP. Such external assessment showcases the inherent infrastructure needs and overall transportation management lags. The country has envisioned reducing this share (from 14% of the GDP) to 10% by 2022.

Putting this on a global scale, logistics spend in the United States amounts to about 8% of its GDP. As a country’s transport management system (as a whole) evolves in terms of technology and automation, the logistics spend not just reduces, but also has an amplified impact on that country’s economy.

What is a complete transportation management system?

Transportation management system is a technology platform which helps an enterprise plan, manage, execute, track and improve all their logistics operations. This includes multiple variables and contingencies in terms of market dynamics, freight rates, capacity utilization, shipment delays, and invoice-level discrepancies.

You saw above that the US spends more on logistics than India. Let’s through another relevant metric. World Bank’s Global Logistics Performance Index (LPI). The LPI is a multifaceted number which represents infrastructure, logistics competence, tech-backed shipment tracking and tracing, etc. The US is ranked 14th on this scale whereas India is ranked 44th.

There is a way to bridge this gap and benefit all involved stakeholders, including the end-customers.

The key is to channel the logistics movement through a truly ‘complete’ transportation management system. Through this system, every rupee or dollar spent on logistics can be maximized in value and reach. It can have a larger impact with:

  • Finer and responsive order planning;

  • Intuitive and smart contract management to match the right shipment, the right freight-rate, and the right carrier/vendor;

  • Tech-improved load building and fleet management;

  • Optimized shipment allocation and dispatch management;

  • Superior logistics partner, vendor, carrier and driver performance management;

  • Real-time shipment tracking with instant delay and SLA violation alerts;

  • Perfect and instant electronic proof of deliveries (EPOD) validated by the consignee, delivery centre, store, etc.;

  • Fast and no-error billing and settlements with total accountability and transparency for all stakeholders; and

  • Iterative and induced learning (machine learning-enabled) issue/exception discovery, checking, assignment, (status) tracking, escalation, resolution, and learning (augmenting current system to avoid future issues).

Wholesome, isn’t it? This is a truly ‘complete’ transportation management system or TMS. And right Fretron is one logistics tech company which offers such an all-inclusive TMS. Each and every aspect covered (and many more like enterprise mobility enabling ‘total-shipment-control’ smartphone apps and tabs) is perfected through decades of real-world and evolving industry applications.

Read More: How the only complete TMS would 10x your logistics efficiency

4 pillars of complete transportation management system (TMS)

Even though the Fretron system is complete, highlighting all features and solutions may take up a lot of scrolling. So let’s bring in some segmented and strategic categorization to build the 4 pillars of a complete TMS.

  • Total order planning and management

  • 360-degree freight visibility

  • No-error billing and settlements

  • IoT-enabled connected logistics


Total order planning and management

Every order has a story. It comes in with pre-coded fulfillment and service level agreement (SLA) promise. It has a tracking id and a loading profile. It goes through an intuitive and AI-driven planning mechanism which considers every fleet, each driver, all carriers/vendors/partners, and their past performance histories.

The system carefully runs its load-builder mechanism (Fretron’s proprietary tech) wherein all stock-keeping units (SKU), crates, pallets, direct or bulk loads, etc. are classified and built into a collective shipment. These shipments have their own identities in terms of delivery timelines, special handling instructions, preference schedules, etc.

The order planning system, in conjunction with the load-builder, also factors in seasonal market variations and adjustments with expert-level forecasts and projections.

The contract and shipment management system carefully matches it with the truck, driver, carrier/vendor, etc. with the most consistent (satisfactory) delivery fulfillment rate. This also includes an intuitive and semi-automated rate and contract management process.

The order management system then builds the loading schedule, optimized for all in-yard truck movement, in accordance with advanced warehouse management system protocols like Last-In-First-Out (or the preferred mechanism).

Read More: Top order planning mantras to boost your logistics management

360-degree freight visibility

The system tracks each shipment, every SKU, all trucks anywhere and anytime. In-yard or in-plant tracking helps streamline the loading process, especially when the warehouse services dozens of centres and is otherwise prone to congestion.

Fretron’s all-time shipment tracking removes all these bottlenecks and aligns all truck loading with order planning schedules. It’s clockwork.

The system tracks all in-transit logistics movement in real-time. The enterprise can view all their trucks and their precious shipments in a consolidated and all-seeing ‘Control Tower’.

Total freight visibility-enabling ‘Control towers’ are the perfect go-to platform for every query, every doubt, and all resolutions. All logistics/warehouse managers, carriers (with view access), and even CXOs can come to this control tower to check where a truck is, what’s the condition of its load, whether there are any violations reported, and what’s the estimated time of arrival (ETA) at the destination.

The system also sends in instant alerts about all in-transit developments so that the company can be super-responsive and subdue them in quick time.

Another very important aspect of 360-degree freight visibility is its robust communication and validation process. All necessary e-way bills or documentation are generated from a single centralized source and are digitally transmitted to the right person at the right time.

Furthermore, all delivery validations (EPODs) are synced instantly. This means the company instantly knows exactly what was delivered, where, in what condition and at what time.Of course, all in-yard/in-transit/delivery tracking and tracing must lead somewhere. The unique machine learning aspect of Fretron’s system is its proprietary ‘issue/exception management’. This is an extensive and, yet, elemental part of the system which pushes the enterprise to evolve and improve its logistics operations – with high adoption, gamified change management and high improvement-stickiness (not reverting to original processes).

Read More: End-to-end freight movement visibility | The Catalyst

No-error billing and settlements

If there was one litmus test of a complete transportation management system, it would be its error-free billing and settlements. Supply chain networks are collaborative, made up of multiple players. This is the essence of a thriving and healthy logistics market. A complete TMS is all-inclusive and benefits each stakeholder with transparency and quick reconciliation.

For shippers, the no-error billing and settlements enable instant, validated, and accurate (location and time-stamped) violation syncing. These SLA violations, like delivery delays or in-transit shipment handling, are often connected to pre-set (and agreed upon through the contract management system) penalties and corrections. This streamlines all settlements, minimizing disputes and counter-claims.

For carriers and LSPs, the delivery validation mechanism syncs with the order planning engine. This checks all delivered SKUs with the exact items that were loaded (using the unit tracking id). This cuts down all discrepancies, speeds-up unloading and minimized downtime.

Furthermore, it streamlines the invoicing, wherein all elements are backed by solid-tracking-backed validations. All settlements are processed at 4x, even 10x speeds.

Read More: How AI-powered billing and settlements can boost your transportation management

IoT-enabled connected logistics

The all-important Internet of Things (IoT) enabled logistics set-up. It’s not future-speak, it’s the present. Fretron’s IoT-enabled connected logistics set-up ensures uninterrupted tracking and validation communication between its trackers, the system and all the stakeholders. All this tracking and validations are encrypted at source and are perfectly secure.

At the end of the day, the system would perform as per the quality of incoming information. The famous concept, garbage-in-garbage-out is apt even for advanced systems. Hence, Fretron’s IoT-enabled connected logistics infrastructure has high-standard specs and standards for each information byte coming in.

The inherent system architecture has multiple fail-safes and fall-backs to ensure inch-perfect tracking with total availability, reliability and maintainability.

United States vs India – Rounding-off the complete TMS story

India has taken several strides on its road to become a logistics technology powerhouse. It intends to invest $82 billion by 2022 (under Bharatmala Prayojana) for transforming the road network (primarily for better logistics movement).

It’s all on the table now. Logistics improvements are the way to increase all related industries like FMCG, oil and gas, manufacturing, automobile, coal and minerals, steel, CEP, and more. It’s up to the players, the stakeholders, the industries, to ensure that every rupee, every dollar spent generates maximum value.

And as we saw earlier, the key to do it is – a truly ‘complete’ transportation management system – a truly ‘complete’ Fretron.

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