TL Logistics Software Streamlines the Truckload Shipping Process

Truckload (TL) shipping generally refers to the transportation of an amount of cargo that is enough to fill an entire semi-trailer. Unlike less than truckload (LTL) shipping, where carriers take partial loads from two or more shippers, combining them into a full load and dividing the load price, companies that perform TL shipping contract an entire load to a single shipper. While LTL shipping can present attractive pricing options for small to midsized companies that regularly ship less than a full truckload of products, the basic advantage TL shipping over LTL shipping is that the freight is never touched en route to its destination. LTL shipments are commonly handled multiple times en route. While truck load shipping is a more simplistic shipping process than less than truckload shipping, companies that use LTL shipping can still benefit from using TL logistics software to arrive at the best shipping solutions.

TL logistics-software is a particular form of truckload logistics software that helps companies optimize their freight and shipping routes to realize the most cost effective TL shipping solutions. In lieu of logistics-software, companies that don’t have their own shipping fleet or employ logistics professionals usually hire third party logistics (3PL) providers. However, for companies that need to save as much as possible on the shipping process, logistics-software is a more cost effective logistics solution than outsourcing to a 3PL provider for two reasons: it allows companies greater leverage in the shipping process and it removes the need to pay a middleman to dialogue with carriers. When companies implement logistics software, they essentially go from outsourcing their logistics to being their own logistics provider, using an easy to use user interface that’s customized to their company’s particular shipping needs.

Logistics software can be customized in accordance with a variety of shipping concerns, but freight optimization and route optimization two aspects of truckload shipping that logistics software applies to in all cases. Freight optimization deals with a variety of freight concerns, including freight size and volume, packaging and composition, all of which affect the cost of shipping. To put it simply, truckload logistics-software is used to find a carrier that offers the best price in relation to the combined factors of freight optimization. Similarly, logistics-software gives companies the ability find the best shipping routes based on various criteria, including: shortest distance, construction patterns, traffic patterns and road surface quality. By performing freight optimization and route optimization, logistics-software presents companies significantly reduce their shipping costs while improving their delivery time. According to recent studies, companies that implement logistics-software can reduce their shipping costs by 10 percent at the end of one year.

Logistics Software Solutions Can Benefit Your Company in Three Basic Ways

When companies present their transportation logistics solutions, they have tendency to either engage in corporate speak and not really say much about their solutions or speak with such expertise that they fail to give you a basic understanding of how logistics solutions can benefit your company in a daily way. For small to midsized companies, transportation logistics typically arrives in one of two forms: by a company outsourcing its logistics to a third party logistics (3PL) provider or by implementing logistics software solutions that are available as an online software application.

Given that logistics software offers an easy to use interface can be customized to a company’s particular shipping needs and costs far less than outsourcing to 3PL providers, it’s usually the logistics option of preference for small to midsized companies that don’t have the luxury of a shipping fleet or a large shipping budget. If you’ve heard of logistics software but are looking for a basic understanding of how it can aid your shipping process, we offer the following overview of how logistics-software solutions help companies in terms of freight optimization, shipping route optimization and shipping method integration.

Freight Optimization

For small to midsized companies that regularly ship less than a full freight load of products, freight optimization typically subsists on finding the best less than truckload (LTL) shipping options. LTL shipping is when a shipping carrier lets companies ship partial loads that combine to compose a full truckload. The cost value of LTL shipping comes from shippers splitting the cost of a full freight load. Although less than truck load shipping offers low shipping rates, due to numerous stops for delivery and pick up, it often takes goods longer to reach their destination than in other shipping arrangements. Nevertheless, logistics-software solutions can be used to find less than truckload carrier routes that offer the best delivery time. Because warehouse stops are a common feature of freight shipping, logistics software also offers warehouse optimization capabilities.

Shipping Route Optimization

If you use a 3PL provider, you probably won’t have any idea what shipping routes your carriers are using. But shipping routes are a major factor in determining overall shipping cost. Logistics-software can analyze shipping routes according to multiple criteria, including: length of route, traffic patterns, road quality and construction patterns. One example of how route optimization can decrease shipping cost and improve delivery time is by analyzing routes in terms of travel time. For example, a route that is shortest in distance may be longer than another route in terms of travel time due to traffic patterns.

Shipping Method Integration

Shipping method integration is an unofficial term that refers to the ability of logistics software to suggest integrated shipping methods for the sake of reducing shipping cost and improving delivery time. For example, even though air shipping is traditionally more expensive than ground shipping, logistics software might suggest shipping certain shipments by air due to expensive, unavoidable warehouse fees that would result from ground shipping. In addition, logistics software may make such suggestions as shipping products halfway to their destination by boat and the other half by freight truck.

LTL Logistics Software Among Other Logistical Resources

Businesses shipping small loads through second party carriers often have difficulty finding affordable shipping arrangements. Truck Load (TL) shipping is unaffordable because a partial load would be shipped at the price of a full load, while parcel shipping can become unaffordable when a large number of parcels are shipped. When low volume shippers can afford neither TL shipping nor parcel shipping, they turn to Less than Truck Load (LTL) shipping – an arrangement where two or more partial loads fill a full semi trailer, and the shippers split the cost of the load.

For most small and midsize shippers, LTL shipping is the most affordable transportation arrangement, but maximizing its benefits requires a strong logistics function-a requirement satisfied by one of three resources-an in house logistics department, a Third Party Logistics (3PL) provider, or logistics software.

Evaluating the Resources

Traditionally, shippers keep the logistics function in-house by staffing logistics experts. When this option is unaffordable, they consider 3PL and logistics software.

The value of 3PL depends on the type of provider one uses:

  • A standard 3PL provider who provides basic logistical services
  • A service developer who provides specialized logistical services
  • A customer adapter who manages the shipping process
  • A customer developer who manages and innovates the shipping process

If you need a specific service, such as cross docking, or tracking and tracing, 3PL can be remarkably affordable, but when full shipping management is the goal, 3PL can be expensive. It can also create a feeling of disconnection from the shipping process. Compared to high-level 3PL, TMS software or LTL logistics software offer two distinct advantages:

  • It is less expensive than using a customer adapter or customer developer
  • It allows you to have full control of the shipping process

Available on a web-based model or an in-house model, the software can be implemented according to your company’s needs and policies. Additionally, the implementation process is designed for efficiency. The provider analyzes your transportation process, creates a program with the right features and functions, and delivers the final version of the program in 30-45 days.

Savings Start Immediately

Financially, the most attractive aspect of the software is its ability to deliver savings in the short term. In the first year, many shippers experience a ten percent reduction in shipping cost, with savings increasing in the years following. In an economy where recessionary spending is still common, a ten percent reduction in shipping cost can bring a welcome increase to a shipper’s bottom line. For many shippers, the savings generated by the software easily reach the six-figure mark.

If your business has a moderate shipping volume, TL shipping and parcel shipping may be unaffordable, and paying a 3PL provider to manage the shipping process may be unaffordable as well. If so, TMS software or LTL logistics software can provide an affordable resource for identifying the best shipping arrangements.

To learn which type of logistics software is right for your transportation process, contact a provider of web-based logistical solutions today.

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