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How shippers can use a TMS to monitor carriers, boost freight efficiency

Leveraging a TMS helps shippers improve their operations, but it can also ensure the carriers hauling their freight meet all regulations and adhere to contracts. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The introduction of mandated electronic logging devices (ELDs) in recent years has put a spotlight on driver hours of service (HOS) issues. Prior to ELDs, it was easy for a truck driver to fudge his or her hours – spent an extra hour at the shippers? No problem; just pencil in a different time in the logbook. The ELD prevents that.

The issue of driver compliance with HOS and other regulations did not crop up with ELDs, but it has become a focal point for fleets and shippers. When the ELD hard deadline went into effect on April 1, 2018, stories circulated that some shippers refused to move goods on a truck that was not using an ELD.

Carriers have also been faced with a number of other issues – International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) reporting; Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA); and compliance with any number of federal and state Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. Repeated and significant violations impact a carrier’s ability to operate.

A carrier’s compliance in these areas is a source of concern for shippers. Any negative behavior by the carrier is reflected onto the shipper. Transportation management systems (TMS) are well known for many of the benefits they provide shippers, including automating many tasks and providing configurable customization to improve supply chain efficiency. But TMS like nVision Global’s Impact TMS also provide other critical tools for shippers such as real-time track and trace of shipments and carrier scorecards.

Building value, lowering costs

Why should shippers care that a carrier is compliant with regulations? It starts with the fact that this carrier is hauling your freight. A history of violations could be a precursor to a future problem, perhaps even a crash. That costs the carrier, but it can also cost the shipper that is often held responsible by a jury. Secondly, carrier compliance is an indication that the carrier management cares about its operation, and that means they will take care of the shipper’s freight.

Carrier scorecards allow shippers to monitor and update performance information on the carriers they use. According to DOT, carriers and drivers with one or more CSA BASIC violations prioritized for an intervention are as much as 79 percent more likely to have a future crash.

Using safer carriers reduces the shipper’s exposure to liability. Increasingly, insurers and juries are holding shippers responsible for a carrier’s actions. That could mean million-dollar payouts. Proactively monitoring carriers for any changes in safety, insurance or authority status allows a shipper to stay in front of any potential risk by pulling loads from unsafe carriers.

Impact TMS provides these key performance indicator reports that shippers can use to better manage the carriers in the routing guide. By proactively monitoring carrier performance, shippers have the ability to craft rules within the TMS to ensure only the safest drivers and fleets move their freight.

Beyond ensuring carrier compliance, shippers using a TMS will be able to easily create custom routing guides, automate alerts and even approvals, and generate custom reports that provide the actionable data needed to run the operation efficiently. The Impact TMS also automates rating, routing and the booking of shipments based on the routing guide.

Given this wealth of data, shippers can dig down into the details truly understand the cost to ship their freight and ensure that freight is carried by only the safest carriers. Modern TMS systems offer the ability to integrate with disparate systems and proactively monitor the details vital to managing costs and risks.

TMS is a versatile tool that is a must-have for shippers that care about compliance, cost, and efficiency.

Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected]