What is Logistics Software?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines logistics as, “the handling of the details of an operation.” At the heart of the profitability and overall success of a business is an efficient logistics system. Managing production, parts, inventory, and shipments all fall under the responsibilities of the logistics, or supply chain, management department. Such a large job includes the daunting task of managing the many details associated with logistics. Employing the use of a good logistics company can greatly affect the outcome of the logistical branch of a business. However, hiring a company that specializes in logistics can prove to be very costly to carry out. Therefore, utilizing a logistics software program may be more economical for small to moderate facilities.

When a logistics company is used, it will handle the day to day management of the business. It will have its own trained personnel that can micro-manage every detail of the supply chain. For a large company with big operations, this is a necessity. Trusting such a vital factor to an untrained person could be detrimental to the business. Many manufacturing enterprises will also maintain a logistics manager as well. Large companies will recognize cost-saving benefits that will offset the expense of continued use of a logistics company.

Unlike a large manufacturer, even a small company can benefit from logistics software. Many software makes have designed an extremely easy to use, user-friendly interface. They are fully automated and can come as a suite with many optional applications or individually loaded for specific applications only. Add to the customizable features, that they often offer online and telephone tech support; this software pays for itself in very little time.

One thing that logistic software does is use a database to make and store various records necessary for keeping track of the many processes associated with a supply chain. The software can manage the distribution, warehousing, inventory, transportation details and expenses, and customer-friendly customer service options.

Some software makers also offer global visibility, bar-code scanning, billing administration and automated issue reporting to increase the value of the services that a business gives to their clients.

A business can track how many parts they have on hand and ordered, how much completed merchandise is available, current trucking routes and loads available, and log customer service interactions. Being able to input this information seamlessly and with as little effort as possible, every business that uses logistics software or a logistics company can save money. High inventory levels cost company’s money with the operating cost associated with warehouses. Being able to communicate with a client when a load will be available will increase customer satisfaction levels. And finally being able to log customer problems, a company can identify a trend before it becomes too overwhelming.

There are several services available to manage a company’s logistics department. Without selecting a method to manage a company’s logistical issues, it will loose money and potentially suffer from low customer and employee satisfaction. Using a software or company is very seldom optional. Therefore, the important thing is to find one that best suits the needs of one’s company, at a cost they can afford, and utilizing all its features to develop a business that is well run and sure to be successful.

Logistics Software on Freight Load Boards: An Overview

Freight matching load boards are one of the ways the Internet has transformed the auto transport business. Instead of labor-intensive pre-digital systems that rely on phone communication and physical record-keeping, online load boards allow truck operators, brokers and shippers to instantly deliver quotes and bid for jobs. Another major advantage of online boards is the ability to integrate logistics software, allowing carriers to plot routes and track all kinds of useful statistics automatically, right through the online interface. This article is a basic introduction to integrated load board logistics software.

Load boards aren’t just for freight carriers – shippers who have freight to transport can create accounts to post their job on the board, though they will see a different interface than either brokers or carriers. Advanced boards have the ability to provide quote estimates that they compile based on past transactions conducted on the board, to help the shipper anticipate and budget costs. When shippers post jobs, brokers and carriers can view them to optimize truck loads and bid on the contracts.

As we mentioned earlier, implementing load boards online also makes it possible to implement advanced computerized logistics solutions, and this is exactly what the industry has done.

If you ever wondered how auto transport carriers pick the best routes, they do it by using truck mapping, routing and mileage software that selects the optimal path automatically. For a modern business that relies on transportation – not just trucking companies, but supermarket chains and many others – logistics software is a necessity. Large companies often have heavily-customized in house solutions; however, most auto transport carriers are relatively small businesses, so as an extra service, most online auto transport boards provide truckers access to logistics software as part of their membership.

While there is a variety of logistics programs on the market, most boards active today incorporate the PC*MILER software by ALK Technologies. Other route planning and mileage tracker software includes Viamente Route Planner, Telogis logistics suite, TruckMiles by ProMiles software and a number of others.

Integrated logistics software allows a board member to plan routes, estimate gas usage and track mileage – all important steps in giving the customer an accurate quote that reflects current fuel prices and won’t obliterate the carrier’s profit margin.

Moreover, logistics programs, including load board integrated ones, aren’t limited to calculating routes – with GPS tracking, they can also pinpoint the location of a vehicle and calculate the number of miles actually traveled, average speeds, fuel efficiency and much more. These features are great for carrier financial calculations, bookkeeping and efficiency improvements.

Routing software can contain helpful features for the carrier operator as well – while in transit, the driver can connect to the app and check traffic and road condition information from the 511 service in states and localities where it’s available.

These are only some of the great benefits that integrated logistics software can provide to transport carriers and truck operators. Learning to use this software to save gas and money, and improve workflow efficiency is crucial to your company’s success as a freight carrier.

Freight Logistics Software Vs Third Party Logistics: Which Is Better?

Today, two types of freight solutions appeal to shippers that rely on carriers: logistics software (a.k.a. TMS software) and third party logistics (3PL). Logistics software allows shippers to become their own logistics provider by using a software program, while 3PL providers negotiate arrangements between shippers and carriers. Frequently compared and contrasted, logistics software and 3PL each offer unique benefits. However, the former has the following important advantages:

Less Expensive

Standard 3PL providers and service developers, which offer particular services and not comprehensive solutions, are usually quite affordable. When you hire a provider that offers innovative management of the shipping process – namely, a customer developer – the cost can compare to hiring an in-house logistics department. Logistics software provides logistics through a software as a service (SaaS) platform. It can also be implemented as an in house solution. Instead of relying on a costly customer developer, you can save money and realize more control by using a software solution.

More Control

A top complaint of 3PL customers is they feel distanced from their shipping process and the entity that manages it. Different 3PL providers have different approaches, but few of them integrate the shipper in the shipping process in a formal capacity. For some shippers, having the shipping process fully managed by another entity is appealing. Due to its expense and vendor issues it involves, most shippers wish to be involved in the process. Freight logistics software does more than “involve” shippers in their own shipping process; it puts them in control of it.

Better Options

3PL providers make freight arrangements by listing an available load in an electronic posting system, where it can be matched with an available carrier, or by negotiating with carriers that don’t use a posting system. Because the former method is usually the easiest, many 3PL providers use it to arrange the largest percentage of shipments – a scenario that limits shippers to carriers who use a posting system. Logistics software removes this barrier and exposes you to more carrier options. In some instances, a shipper misses the best carrier option because the carrier who could provide it will not work with the shipper’s 3PL.

Greater Security

No shipping process is as secure as one that the shipper handles on its own. When outsourcing to a 3PL, shippers naturally lose the capacity to scrutinize the carriers with which their loads are placed. Although 3PL providers select carriers with the customer in mind, they also select them with themselves in mind – a dichotomy that can jeopardize the interests of shippers. Freight logistics software alleviates security concerns by putting you in control of the shipping process.

Conclusion

Logistics software is a viable replacement for 3PL, particularly for shippers who wish to control their own shipping process. Next to payroll, shipping is the second largest operating expense for most shippers. This means that rejuvenating a stale shipping process with better carrier options can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line – an impact that logistics software allows you to achieve.