© Frank Harms |

The days of the humble dashboard for shippers appear numbered, as logistics and haulage firms embrace traffic management systems (TMS) to expand their business.

Crane Worldwide Logistics has unveiled a TMS package that offers shippers “real-time management of the full order-to-settlement process, quote management, pricing and routing functionality, track and trace with proactive exception management and financial settlement and audit capabilities”.

Besides the ability to manage the process from a single cloud-based platform, CTMS allows shippers to automate and optimise operations and reduce their costs, the forwarder claimed.

The system comes with more than 80 APIs and connects to major ERPs like Oracle and SAP and “can be part of a client’s Office 360 experience”, said Brian Shipley, senior director, managed services.

CTMS also includes pre-established connections with 37 major LTL carriers, covering about 75% of the market, according to Mr Shipley. He added that other truckers could be added into the mix in line with client requirements.

CTMS ties into Crane’s network but can integrate with other providers and platforms. It was designed to tie-in the logistics firm’s clients, but can also be sold as a standalone TMS platform for shippers to manage their transport.

“We needed a platform we could sell to clients and use ourselves,” Mr Shipley said. “CTMS is going to become the core platform for ground shipments for Crane.”

Meanwhile, other logistics providers are also reaching out to shippers with TMS offerings.

In July, Maersk released a web-based platform called Maersk Flow that allows shippers to manage booking, purchase order management and visibility, and includes performance monitoring tools. And, according to Maersk, it is carrier-neutral. And logistics firm GlobalTranz has acquired Cerasis, a managed transport services provider with a proprietary TMS.

Digital brokers and load boards, which match truckers with shippers, are also going after TMS capability: digital brokerage Convoy struck partnerships with five TMS providers in August and is now aligned with 12 providers.

And, for their part, shippers are increasingly interested in TMS capabilities. Many are looking to progress beyond a ‘control tower’ for visibility and communication to optimise processes and reduce expenses. However, the cost of acquiring a TMS is a deterrent for small shippers.

In a move aimed at this gap, 3PL Allport Cargo Services teamed up with Infor Nexus in the spring to run the software provider’s products for its shipping customers, a deal that gives Allport’s clients access to functionality they normally could not afford. For Infor Nexus, it provides an outlet to test and refine new features and functionality.

All these developments are advancing the rapid digitisation of the freight market. Crane is already working on its next digital offering, a free portal for small shippers to obtain instant pricing and booking in its network. The forwarder uses its discounts with carriers to pass on to shippers at a small mark-up, allowing them to move their traffic at lower rates than they could get themselves. This will be released this quarter, Mr Shipley said.

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  • Yalantis

    October 27, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Thank you for the excellent article, Ian!
    I would also like to mention that digitalization plays a vital role when it comes to small businesses, as it is almost the only chance to compete with industry giants, and though such companies as Cloud Logistics, Kuebix, and JDA can offer solutions, it is sometimes really complicated for small business to choose one. I would recommend developing your own app as only individual software architecture can allow you to transfer all your data from paper/computer to the app without any difficulties. Custom software also provides you only needed modules, and in this case, you are not going to spend ages training staff to use the app. There are a lot of software development companies who work with logistics businesses, but I would recommend you first reading an article about how such software is built – https://yalantis.com/blog/using-mobile-app-technologies-in-motor-carrier-ltl-operations/.

  • Maksim Bondar

    July 23, 2022 at 12:05 pm

    Hi! Great article! I would like to add that as the level of digitization increases, some areas of business, especially the most conservative ones, face the need to expand staff and change the structure of work. Some of them decide to turn to bpo companies to soften the transition period. This way they temporarily solve the problem and give themselves time to fully expand. – https://mobilunity-bpo.com/10-signs-your-business-needs-bpo-services/