What is a TMS for freight shipping?

Looking to organize your transportation? Then you probably need a good TMS (Transportation Management System). A TMS is used by shippers to manage shipments. It usually works in conjunction with the system you use to generate orders and the one that you use to manage and fulfill those orders or keep your inventory.

Smiling warehouse managers working together in a large warehouse.jpeg

Why would I need a TMS?
Busy freight shippers realize quickly there is a lot to keep track of. In freight shipping you have to know the locations where you are shipping from and to. What the commodities are that you are shipping. If you are shipping multiple commodities then you need a product catalog. If you are shipping commodities governed by a classification system like the NMFC you need a place to keep that information. You need a place to keep your vendor / carriers information along with their insurance information, authorities, etc. Not to mention a place to house these vendors pricing, rate quotes and measure their performance. Oh, then there is the need to keep records of past transactions, which a TMS does for you too.

Many companies start out using spreadsheets and paper files to manage all of this. As they find success and their business grows, logistics becomes a greater concern. There are a lot of TMS options out their. In a previous life, a core responsibility of mine was to purchase these systems. I have participated in several large TMS implementations and let me tell you, they are expensive!!!

What should I expect from a TMS?
Enable you to produce, distribute and maintain records of quotes.
Keep record of your shippers and consignees along with their nuances.
Keep record of your carriers and their rates, insurance, authorities, etc.
Produce and keep record of a bill of lading and carrier rate confirmation.
Allow you to organize and track shipments through delivery.
Generate an invoice and have a place to keep files related to shipments like PODs.
For the small to medium size business having $2M to put down on a huge TMS is unrealistic and unnecessary. There are several low cost options out there. If you are small to medium sized shipper looking to manage your freight shipping better, here two options I personally used and was happy with.

Popular TMS’s for small business.
Ascend TMS:

Has a free version, low cost subscription with advanced features.
Shippers and consignees auto populate based on public data.
Easy to use interface for entering and managing shipments.
Can produce quotes, customized bols.
Solutions for carrier vetting and management.
Several other features and integrations that are useful depending on your needs.
ITS Dispatch

Low cost month to month subscription.
Shippers and consignees entered manually.
Easy to follow “White Board” view for managing shipments.
Can produce quotes, customized bols.
Solutions for carrier vetting and management.
Several other features and integrations that are useful depending on your needs.

Free to use.
Shipper and consignees entered manually and stored for the future.
Easy dashboard view for managing your shipments.
Ability to produce quotes, customize bols.
Lot’s of reporting and good information to help you manage your business.
We provide the carriers and vet them for you. (LTL, Truckload, Expedited, Air).
We also spend $500M + a year on shipping, so you get our volume discounts.
If you’d like more info, simply email info@bamfreight.com or schedule a meeting with me!

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Dave Stevens

Dave Stevens

Transportation Executive with experience in developing processes and controls for early stage start up companies. Specialties include: Sales, Marketing, Transportation, Trucking, Brokerage, Project Transport and Rail Operations.,Organizational Design, Process Development, Accounts Receivable Management, Leadership, and Business Start-ups.

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