By Roger Murphy, managing director of TrackTrans
Statistics from the Road Haulage Association demonstrate just how important the industry is for the people and businesses of the UK: 98% of all food and agricultural products and 98% of all consumer products and machinery in Great Britain are transported by road freight while the sector is the fifth largest employer in the country. In fact, everything we eat, drink and wear depends on road haulage services.
We see the lorries and trucks on our roads every day but how many people actually understand the challenges the industry faces in getting goods from A to B?
It’s a complicated business that necessitates the effective management of drivers, fleet vehicles and third-party logistics to ensure goods are delivered from warehouse to store on time and on budget.
Yet, many organisations still rely on manual systems including spreadsheets to manage today’s increasingly complex transport chains.
In so doing, they risk being left behind through inconsistent processes and wasted time that costs money, customers and new business opportunities.
Here are five reasons why it’s time to put an end to spreadsheet sprawl by deploying automated Transport Management Systems (TMS):
1. End-to-end visibility
The trouble with spreadsheets is that they are one person’s view of the truth and being manual, are often out-of-date making it difficult to know whether a job has been completed or simply deleted.
Use TMS technology to allow all your staff to keep sight of customer consignments quickly and efficiently.
At the click of a mouse, view the name and location of the driver, the vehicles they are using along with real-time updates of their route and progress to final proof of delivery (POD) with the customer.
2. Complete historical customer journey archive
Every job recorded in a TMS solution includes details of who entered it, when and lists every activity subsequently performed creating a complete audit trail.
In addition notes and electronic versions of critical consignment records, such as scanned copies of PODs, can be attached.
These can be retrieved and emailed instantly to colleagues or to customers to resolve issues and enquiries quickly and accurately without having to sift through mountains of paperwork.
3. Personalise customer solutions
Using automation makes it easy to create tailored delivery plans for customers.
If a customer needs 50 pallets to go to five stores in five different towns, simply feed this information into the TMS to build an efficient schedule that allocates the right drivers and vehicles and reconciles them against a detailed timeline for the collection of goods from the warehouse to delivery at the customer’s final destination - on time and on budget.
4. Flexible business tool
In a fast-moving commercial climate where one company’s demise can spell overnight success for another, automation makes light work of scaling up and down to meet sudden or steep fluctuations in consignment numbers, such as seasonal demand.
Use today’s web-based TMS to guarantee flexibility that strategically meets changing SLAs, supports business growth and future expansion plans.
Meanwhile, the superior reporting capabilities of today’s TMS technology enable organisations to monitor their business performance with a clear view of pertinent financial information such as invoices, turnover, uncharged jobs and missing PODs that can be downloaded in an instant.
Compare vehicle use against specific key performance indicators (KPIs) to identify and rectify swiftly any areas of over or under-utilisation of fleet assets, an essential indicator of how well a business is run.
5. Tangible time and cost savings
Why spend significant amounts of time keying in details of customer consignments manually? Use automation to receive orders electronically and re-deploy this time to improving customer service.
Do more with less: automation boosts productivity without the need for additional headcount.
Organisations can handle more deliveries in a day because processes are streamlined and each job or consignment no longer needs to be manually entered into the system.