When it comes to transportation management, the prime objective remains to be, how to get product from Point A to Point B in the most economical, safe and cost-efficient way possible. Here’s a breakdown of how today’s enhanced transportation management solutions (TMS) can help cold food processors and distributors overcome many of today’s supply chain challenges.

It’s all in the cloud
Accellos 3PL, a HighJump product, introduced the new Cloud TMS Solution Suite for 3PLs. This solution includes AccellosOne Framework (report and training education videos), transportation management for TL, LTL and brokers, AccellosOne Pulse Dashboard, AccellosOne Inspection (helps logistics providers check loads and product against a set of parameters), SkyTrack Mobile (provides up-to-the-minute statuses of loads directly within the system), AccellosOne Optimize (offers automatic load building, route optimization, delivery scheduling and distribution pattern analysis) and document imaging.

“A cloud-based solution that scales to the size of the carriers’ business enables carriers to keep the same system while they grow,” says Joe Couto, senior vice president and general manager of the Colorado Springs, Colo., company. “Due to fluctuations in the market, carriers are taking on other businesses such as brokering loads, so having a system that can manage brokered freight is necessary.”

In July, Prophesy, a product of HighJump Software, Inc., Minneapolis, released Prophesy Cloud TMS, a fully automated online dispatch system. This web-based, paperless system supports an unlimited number of users, offers a multi-office environment, provides support for multiple currencies, sends automated shipment status notifications and issues comprehensive reports on load planning, order management, carrier management, driver/truck/trailer management, load management, invoicing, accounting and ratings.

JDA Software, Scottsdale, Ariz., launched the Intelligent Fulfillment Suite (IF Suite), an integrated set of cloud-based supply chain planning and execution solutions that solve inventory planning, replenishment and order fulfillment challenges. The IF Suite is built from point-of-sale data and shaped by factors such as price, promotion and other events that automatically drive optimal inventory distribution decisions. It eliminates silos and helps users plan against downstream constraints such as carrier capacity and warehouse throughput. Plus, its iterative planning and execution detects changes and disruptions across the supply chain as they occur.

“Omni-channel complexity, growing competitive pressures and tightening margins are forcing organizations to re-think their supply chain strategies, tear down silos and re-think network execution,” says Tom Kozenski, vice president of industry strategy. “JDA’s Distribution-Centric Supply Chain Suite fulfills the vision of true inter-enterprise visibility and constraint-aware planning by enabling intelligent and profitable distribution decision-making that reduces inventory levels and costs, improves customer service and creates more agile, profitable and responsive operations.”

Monitoring temps in reefers, trailers
For its part, GPS Insight, Scottsdale, Ariz., now offers temperature monitoring in reefers and trailers for food distribution fleets, helping processors prevent spoilage and providing evidence that a door was left open or the refrigeration unit may be malfunctioning, according to Ryan Driscoll, marketing director.

“The temperature of each reefer or trailer can be viewed from a list or from a map of where the unit is currently located. This gives management the ability to quickly eyeball current temperatures,” he adds. “Alerts can also be triggered when the temperature inside goes above a certain threshold. Now, management can notify the driver as soon as they are alerted of the higher-than-normal temperature and have the situation properly addressed.”

Freight audit, payment solution
Earlier this year, enVista, Carmel, Ind., launched a new version of its proprietary transportation spend management solution called myShipINFO (MSI).

“Through MSI, we offer a comprehensive freight audit and payment solution that includes units of measure conversion, multi-lingual, multi-currency VAT considerations and real-time rating engine to ensure carrier invoice accuracy and compliance,” says Doug Kahl, vice president, transportation solutions and freight management group. “In addition, MSI provides communication portals for clients and carriers to work through resolution issues in a more efficient manner. Sharing the same view to the data eliminates the back and forth of people trying to get on the same page. It also provides a communication string, so both sides view the progress being made and allows others to get up to speed quickly.”

At-a-glance reporting
Asset Intelligence, LLC, Plano, Texas, released an analytics platform that includes a comprehensive set of new reports and dashboards designed to provide an at-a-glance understanding of key performance trends for transportation fleets.

“A quadrant chart is used to illustrate landmark locations that are the highest and lowest utilization sites for a fleet’s refrigerated trailers,” says Todd Felker, executive vice president, marketing and product development. “Combining average idle time of assets alongside their average engine utilization (and in turn, fuel use) at each yard relative to the fleet-wide average, a user can quickly identify the customers that cost the most to service with high-dwell, high-engine use locations isolated in the top right quadrant.”

Next year, Asset Intelligence plans to release two new solutions that provide major enhancements to existing software offerings, as well as a completely redesigned VeriWise user interface.

“The completely overhauled interface will enhance already industry-leading, ease of use with streamlined graphical asset location tools, full customization of report generation and distribution and integration of self-service training tools to put expert guidance on fleet management best practices.”

In-cab services
Dallas-based Omnitracs, LLC introduced an in-cab scanning application for its Mobile Computing Platform 50 (MCP50), designed to help fleets better streamline activities and improve productivity. This end-to-end application allows drivers to scan and transmit important documents, such as trip and mileage reports, timesheets and receipts from inside the cab of the truck. This application also delivers a comprehensive, actionable view of safety-oriented, event-driven data summarized by vehicle and driver to help improve performance, safety and accident prevention.

“Fleet management technology is the first and strongest line of defense for safety and security in food transport,” says Jim Sassen, senior manager of product marketing. “These applications and additional vendor options deliver added value to fleets adopting the MCP50 to improve operational efficiency and productivity, while enhancing fleet-wide safety.”

Providing more accurate delivery times
Paragon Software Systems, Inc., Dallas, introduced Paragon HDS (home delivery system), which enables home delivery and home service companies to offer more accurate delivery times by integrating multi-channel ordering and delivery booking with real-time route scheduling. Paragon HDS takes each new home delivery request and instantly generates a choice of delivery slots that fit in with the existing route schedules. Each customer is only offered viable and cost-effective delivery times, so that logistics operators retain full control of the schedule. The system provides order visibility and continuously re-optimizes the schedule as new orders are input. Paragon HDS also makes it easy to plan regular repeat deliveries with fixed frequency patterns.

“Running on a windows operating platform, Paragon’s transport optimization system holds details of customer addresses, delivery quantities, time windows, vehicle sizes, driver shift details and other transportation parameters,” says William Salter, president and CEO. “Using a highly developed algorithm designed specifically for optimizing road-based transportation operations, Paragon’s software uses digital mapping to calculate the most effective delivery and collection sequences with accurate journey times, allocating loads to appropriate vehicles and drivers accordingly.”

Trimble, Sunnyvale, Calif., partnered with 3Gtms, Inc., a privately-held provider of transportation management systems based in Shelton, Conn., to create 3G-TM, a planning and shipment management software marketed by TMW Systems, Beachwood, Ohio. 3G-TM can be integrated with TMW’s enterprise transportation management software to provide the first single-source solution for running both asset-based and non-asset transportation service organizations.

“On a single platform, 3G-TM simplifies end-to-end logistics processes, implementation, onboarding and training,” says Monica Truelsch, director of marketing for TMW Systems. “The proprietary planning and execution algorithm enables real-time reaction to changes in customer orders and shipments and allows reviews for cost-savings opportunities. The technology silos developed over time to separately address the disparate needs of shippers, 3PLs and motor carriers can now be replaced with an integrated solution that expands cost control, asset management and shipment visibility through advanced load optimization and real-time order management.”

Launching in spring of 2015 is an Integrated Transportation Management and Dedicated solution with optimized order management from Ryder Dedicated, Miami. This solution provides transparency in the decision making of dedicated fleet size, best total cost choice and ongoing analysis for an optimal blend of common carrier and dedicated assets, says Steve Martin, vice president.

“With dynamic routing, we are able to interface directly with customer ERP systems, receive and process all orders into a warehouse pick/load schedule along with the driver routing guide for optimal service delivery and costs,” he adds. “The trailers leave our customer locations loaded in sequence, which allows minimum handling or re-positioning of freight at each stop. The route is also planned and validated through the use of onboard computers that capture arrival and departure times.”

Optimizing transportation distribution network
Transplace, Dallas, introduced Optimize Prime, a comprehensive platform that designs, analyzes and optimizes transportation distribution network systems. It displays a graphical interface mapping product transportation flows and locations based on geographical attributes, and applies mode selection optimization to operational settings as well as strategic decision analysis settings.

“For added flexibility, the system inputs strategic business rules for the most complex networks, including cost, service level, product type, packaging and appointment windows,” says George Abernathy, president and chief commercial officer. “This enhanced version allows for a better, faster outcome by considering more scenarios in a shorter amount of time. It also delivers detailed reporting for each optimization for shipment consolidation, mode conversion and route selection.”

From temperature monitoring to fleet optimization, today’s transportation management solutions help the cold food industry overcome today’s supply chain challenges.