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How can a transport system change your business?

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July 2, 2024 / Author: fireTMS team

Based on global trends and available solutions, the increased efficiency of companies in recent years is primarily due to digitisation and investment in modern IT systems. Find out how intelligent transport systems can improve your company’s logistics, increasing efficiency and reducing operating costs.

What is a transport system and what does it mean for business?

A transport system or TMS( Transport Management System) is an IT solution that enables comprehensive transport management in companies. From the very beginning, i.e. sending the cargo, through the organisation of transport and its monitoring, to settlement. That type of transport system is, by definition, based on electronic tools – computers, mobile devices and telematics systems. 

Let us add, for the record, that the term “transport system” has another, much broader meaning. In that case, based on the definition, the transport system is all the elements that make up the process of delivering and receiving goods and the movement of people. 

Therefore, one can speak of a country’s transport system as a combination of infrastructure, networks of connections, etc. It can also be the transport system of a particular organisation (company, association of companies, institution), i.e. all the processes thanks to which it is able to transport goods and people. In this article, however, we will focus on transport systems in the form of IT solutions that support the work of companies in the TSL (Transport, Forwarding, Logistics) industry.

In the TSL industry, a transport system is an essential tool that enables the business to operate in a comprehensive and well-organised manner. TMS systems make it possible to optimise the processes and costs of running a transport company and make better use of resources in any business. From micro-enterprises, through the SME sector, to large organisations and corporations. 

What is an intermodal transport system and what are its benefits?

An intermodal transportation system is one that makes it possible to organise the transport of a given load using different means of transport. A good example of intermodal transport is transporting a container by car from the sender to a freight rail station, loading it onto a platform wagon and transporting it, e.g. to a port, where the container is transferred to a ship. Then, at the port of destination, the cargo is placed again on the truck and thus reaches the recipient. 

A good example is the transport of goods from Poland to Scandinavia or the British Isles via the sea route. Additionally, road transport is subject to numerous legal restrictions, e.g. limits on drivers’ working time or a ban on the movement of heavy vehicles on certain days. 

The term intermodality is also associated with a bimodal transport system. What’s that? In a broader sense, it is a transport system implemented using trains and trucks. In that case, while in transit, the cargo is transferred from one mode of transport to another before reaching the recipient. A good example of the application of bimodality is the New Silk Road from China to Europe. Goods are delivered to railway terminals by cars, then transferred to wagons, and travel the vast majority of the route on rails.

In a narrower sense, the bimodal transport system involves transporting cargo on special semi-trailers adapted both for transport using a tractor-trailer and on a special wheeled trolley in a freight train. Such a semi-trailer can be easily re-coupled from the tractor to the train at the terminal and, after being brought to the final terminal, re-coupled from the train to the tractor. 

The benefits of an intermodal transport system are primarily cost and time savings. This most often applies to longer routes, where using one means of transport, e.g. a truck, may involve much higher costs and longer delivery times. Flexibility in the planning of deliveries is also important, being able to react quickly in the event of unforeseen events, such as difficult road conditions or temporary blockage of supply routes. 

Modern transport systems make it possible to organise transport based on different means of transport and to change them during transit. Therefore, we can also speak of an intermodal transport system having in mind a TMS-class system, thanks to which such a type of combined freight transport can be handled. 

Zestaw transportowy z kontenerem na platformie w terminalu przeładunkowym

Intelligent Transport Systems: the future of logistics

Taking a look at the challenges in the TSL industry, it is difficult to imagine logistics management using traditional tools. In times when flexibility and speed of decision-making are important, we are faced with temporary or permanent unavailability of transport routes and the need to look for new solutions. There is also the growing competition in the industry and the need to seek advantages over other companies in the same sector.

To better visualise today’s problems, it is enough to give a few examples that have had a significant impact on the TSL industry in recent years The COVID-19 pandemic affected the transport of goods around the world, and above all, it blocked an important route from China. Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in turn, resulted in the closure of many transport routes in the war zone and the Black Sea. 

Even a seemingly local accident can influence global transport. The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore in March 2024 resulted in the blockade of one of the largest ports in the United States. It particularly hit the automotive industry as this is where the transport route for cars and light trucks ran between North America and Europe. In 2023 alone, as many as 850,000 vehicles passed through the port of Baltimore. Moreover, one of the main export routes for LNG from the US to Europe was disrupted as a result of the disaster.

The implementation of intelligent transport systems allows for much more efficient management and faster response to large-scale unexpected events. The use of such tools enables very rapid revision of plans or changing decisions and facilitates the search for new contractors. 

Not insignificant are the competitive advantages that can be achieved by increasing a company’s potential and profitability and reducing operating costs. This is incredibly important in the age of globalisation and increasingly strong dependencies between countries around the world. But even when operating only nationally, implementing such solutions helps to optimise costs and significantly improve service quality.

How does an integrated transport system affect company efficiency?

By transferring all processes to an integrated transport system, the entire document flow, organisation of transport and receipt of orders, as well as settlements are in one place. This is a great opportunity to optimise operating and team costs. 

Above all, the comprehensive approach, broad functionality and clear interface of the TMS save a lot of time. This translates into the number of processes that can be carried out during the working day, and thus into revenue and profit. This significantly increases the company’s efficiency and market position.

Benefits of implementing an integrated transport system (TMS)

  • Time-saving and simplification of procedures thanks to the digitisation of paper documentation and the introduction of electronic document circulation into the TMS system.
  • Reduction of costs and increased efficiency by integrating multiple solutions into a single system, e.g. spreadsheets, transport monitoring software, accounting software, etc.
  • Elimination of most human errors when handling company processes.  
  • Increased flexibility and speed of decision-making, thanks to direct transport monitoring and quick contact with drivers.
Operator wózka widłowego ładuje towar do kontenera

Practical applications of the transport system in companies

What does everyday work with the transport system look like and in what circumstances are its advantages most apparent? Just look at a company that handles an increased number of orders during a sales peak, e.g. before Christmas or Easter. Over that time, the number of orders can significantly differ from the average, resulting in a very busy time for all employees. Such periods mean more mistakes in transport orders due to an overload of tasks to be performed. 

In such a situation, an intelligent transport system noticeably speeds up data entry, task assignment and work monitoring, thanks to which employees are able to do more work in more comfortable conditions. 

Another example is the handling of complex orders that require the issuing of many documents and verification of a large amount of information. It is also very easy to make a mistake here. The solution is the complete computerisation of that type of processes, which is possible when an intelligent transport system is implemented in the company. The elements it consists of allow you to work on easy-to-use templates, based on which the necessary documents are created in a transparent form. The data entered into the above-mentioned templates does not need to be verified and completed each time, as it will be downloaded automatically.

As far as transport is concerned, such a transport system enables effective transport monitoring. Thanks to the use of GPS telematics and applications for freight forwarders and drivers, it is not only possible to check the status of an order in real time but also to contact drivers very easily. 

Therefore, if there are any difficulties or random incidents along the route, you will find the necessary information about such events in the system and you can react to them quickly. This can also be the basis for optimising routes and introducing transport efficiency checks.

Access to transport exchanges is also an important feature of TMS-class transport systems. It allows more efficient use of the fleet and reduces empty runs. For example, if you need to deliver a load from Midlands to London, but on the return journey the vehicle is empty, you can search for transport orders between London and Midlands using a freight exchange integrated into the transport system. This is an effective way to reduce the number of empty returns, which significantly increases operating costs. 

Examples of successful transport system implementations

Implementing an intelligent transport system in a company is, contrary to appearances, quite easy, although it all depends on the scale of operations and integration with other systems. Obviously, it is very important to choose a proven partner who will help implement the transport system with its components and provide technical support afterwards. 

Another factor that influences success is the use of solutions most suited to the nature of the business. These may include, e.g., the type of TMS system (cloud-based or in-house), the degree to which the system is adapted to the scale of the business (a system for SMEs or universal), the payment model for the service, etc. 

To read about examples of fireTMS implementation, go to our customer implementation stories page.

Samochody ciężarowe na autostradzie

How to start integrating the fireTMS transport system in your company?

Do you want to see how an intelligent transport system works? Go to the fireTMS website, create an account and start a 14-day free trial. We will call you to arrange a demonstration of the system’s capabilities. 

Alternatively, contact us directly and we will help you implement fireTMS in your company.

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fireTMS team

fireTMS team

The article was written by the fireTMS team, based on their knowledge, experience and awareness of the TSL industry.

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