Transportation Software

Transportation Software
Transportation Software is​ a​ broad term .​
Large shippers and carriers began developing transportation software in​ the​ 1960’s when mainframe computers became more widely available and affordable .​
Large LTL carriers such as​ Roadway Express and Red Ball were pioneers in​ the​ field .​
It is​ a​ little known fact that the​ freight industry created E.D.I .​
(electronic data interchange) during this time frame .​
Early transportation software was custom built and run on​ company mainframes at​ the​ large carriers and shippers .​
As with so many other fields,​ transportation software for small or​ medium sized companies did not begin to​ materialize until after the​ introduction of​ the​ I.B.M .​
personal computer in​ 1980 .​
Transportation software can be as​ simple as​ software used to​ calculate point-to-point mileage or​ complex enough to​ manage virtually all shipping functions of​ a​ carrier,​ broker or​ shipper.
Modern transportation software has standardized into basic functional groups based on​ the​ needs of​ shippers and carriers/brokers .​
Much of​ the​ available transportation software is​ sold with these functions as​ modules that can be purchased separately .​
Which modules are purchased is​ usually driven by the​ size of​ the​ company looking for the​ transportation software.
Transportation software as​ applied to​ shippers can be part of​ the​ much larger field of​ supply chain management or​ more narrowly focused on​ supply chain execution .​
Supply chain management can be defined as​ the​ application of​ information technology to​ economic order quantity theory .​
It encompasses virtually every function within a​ company that deals in​ tangible products and is​ usually best preceded by ERP .​
Enterprise Resource Planning is​ the​ company getting its data house in​ order .​
It can then think in​ a​ more focused way about supply chain management and execution.
Transportation software as​ it​ applies to​ shippers is​ most often associated with supply chain execution .​
The main functional groups here are the​ preparation of​ goods for shipment and the​ effective management of​ transportation vendors .​
The preparation of​ goods for shipment is​ a​ function of​ warehouse management software .​
The warehouse must stock the​ products that will later be shipped,​ pick the​ products that have been ordered and package or​ unitize those products for shipment.
Management of​ transportation vendors is​ an​ important function of​ supply chain execution software .​
Shippers usually need a​ number of​ vendors to​ cover their territory or​ find it​ beneficial to​ have vendors competing for business .​
Vendor management software uses objective measures to​ point out the​ best vendor for any given shipment based on​ price and service accomplishment .​
The best supply chain execution software allows for effective communication with vendors throughout the​ shipping process.
Transportation software as​ it​ applies to​ trucking or​ broker companies has standardized into three basic functional groups; dispatch operations,​ equipment management and accounting .​
Much of​ the​ available trucking software is​ sold with these functions as​ modules that can be purchased separately .​
Which modules are purchased is​ usually driven by the​ size of​ the​ carrier or​ broker looking for the​ trucking software .​
Very small carriers and brokers can manage dispatch and or​ equipment on​ paper .​
Accounting functions at​ this level are well served by software packages such as​ QuickBooks or​ Peachtree .​
Carriers that grow beyond 10 so trucks and brokers with 20+ loads per month or​ can usually begin to​ see the​ value of​ having one or​ more of​ the​ transportation software modules.
Transportation software designed for the​ accounting functions is​ the​ least likely of​ three to​ be offered as​ a​ stand-alone product since it​ depends upon the​ others for data .​
Payroll functions can be derived from dispatch operations data such as​ which driver went where .​
Invoicing and receivables are also derived from dispatch operations data as​ in​ which customer sent what where .​
Equipment expenses are derived from equipment management functions .​
Transportation software designed to​ integrate with the​ over the​ counter accounting packages such as​ QuickBooks can ease the​ transition for many small carriers and brokers.
Equipment management functions of​ transportation software revolve around fuel and maintenance costs .​
Fuel,​ tires,​ periodic maintenance,​ and repairs are all important costs to​ be managed by every trucking company .​
This type of​ software can get very complex but is​ essential to​ larger carriers and can be a​ good value to​ smaller companies .​
The availability of​ fuel cost data on​ the​ internet has given carriers a​ new tool to​ manage those costs as​ in​ where and when and how much fuel to​ buy .​
Transportation brokers do not have these concerns.
Transportation software designed for dispatch operations is​ the​ most likely of​ the​ functional groups to​ be offered as​ a​ stand-alone product .​
It is​ also arguably the​ most important of​ the​ three functional groups .​
It is​ the​ most important because it​ can have the​ greatest impact on​ customer service .​
Freight brokers in​ particular should recognize that this software can give them a​ competitive advantage .​
Equipment management and accounting functions are internal; dispatch operations touch every customer the​ carrier or​ broker has in​ one way or​ another .​
Dispatch operations is​ all about keeping the​ right drivers with the​ right equipment in​ place to​ services the​ customers’ needs and take advantage of​ opportunities that arise .​
Managing those resources is​ important but the​ best dispatch software also gives dispatchers and managers tools to​ monitor work in​ progress and communicate effectively with customers.
The internet has given rise to​ two interesting new developments in​ the​ field of​ transportation software; software as​ a​ service and networking as​ a​ new functional group .​
Software as​ a​ service is​ delivered via the​ internet by subscription and has the​ following advantages:
No large upfront investment as​ in​ traditional buying of​ software.
No new hardware costs .​
Your existing network,​ internet connection and browser such as​ Microsoft Internet Explorer are all that are needed.
Pay as​ you​ go .​
This type of​ software is​ often available month to​ month without a​ contract.
Maintenance and upgrades handled at​ the​ web server with little or​ no bother to​ the​ user.
Networking as​ a​ functional group is​ a​ new development made possible by the​ internet .​
Dispatch software can now be extended onto the​ customers’ desktops .​
Carriers,​ brokers and shippers can collaborate to​ give and get the​ data that they need to​ get the​ job done .​
Customer service is​ greatly enhanced with true real time communications and the​ customer as​ a​ larger part of​ the​ process .​ is​ an​ example of​ this new breed of​ transportation software.

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