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Process automation platforms a ‘quantum leap’ in tech evolution to follow TMS

Platforms built to help carriers automate workflows and access data in one place

Presented in partnership with BeyondTrucks.

A company’s access to and control over its own data is one of the most basic, yet most crucial, necessities for running a better business and growing it.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses, including carriers in the trucking industry, to question not only the way they work but how they store and access their data — and how they leverage it.

Are employees spending hours manually and repeatedly entering the same data into spreadsheets and the company’s TMS? Are workflows broken and scattered across multiple platforms? Is data stored in many different places, such as on a TMS that can only be accessed through on-premise servers, ELDs, the accounting system, smartphones, myriads of broker apps, factoring portals, and multiple fuel and credit cards? Are workers constantly making and receiving phone calls to provide load updates? Most importantly, is it impossible to know whether a truck, a driver or a load is profitable at any given point in time?

The pandemic highlighted these process inefficiencies and demonstrated that streamlining processes, digitizing operations and leveraging data weren’t simply competitive advantages but vital for business survival moving forward.

A simple, cloud-based and automated solution is needed to allow carriers, especially those that are small and midsize, to survive and thrive in the digital data age.

Enter PAPs

Hans Galland, BeyondTrucks CEO and founder, sees the solution to this need as process automation platforms (PAPs), which are tools designed as centralized hubs for carriers to help them prosper in the fast-paced and data-centric business of trucking.

“Small and midsized carriers often do not have the budget and patience to implement ERP solutions such as a TMS. Yet as their operations grow, they need a solution more robust than spreadsheets and more time-efficient than a TMS to allow them to consolidate data to allow for smarter business decisions. This was the impetus for a whole new era of transportation technology — PAP — to be born,”  Galland said.

He regards the technology as not just the next generation of business process tools after the TMS, but something more akin to the revolutionary jump from traditional phones to smartphones.

“PAP is software that allows businesses to automate repetitive business processes, streamlining operations for simplicity and improved service; truly a quantum leap. Serving as a next step beyond the current TMS systems, PAPs further ease the process of managing a fleet and finally allow for making smart decisions,” Galland said.

PAPs save operators time and hassle by unifying data into one central location, reducing the need to switch between various platforms. With all data in one place, carriers are able to make more strategic decisions for their fleets, whether they conduct basic analytics or utilize advanced statistical methods such as machine learning and AI to improve the profitability of their operations

Users can input data using the system’s optical character recognition technology, saving much time compared with manual data entry. PAPs automate tasks like load planning and dispatching, sending load updates to shippers, invoicing, expense payments and driver settlement. Native financial capabilities such as factoring allow fleet owners to access funds right away.

It’s not just Galland who sees the benefits of PAPs.

Wolfgang Lehmacher, former head of supply chain and transport industries at the World Economic Forum, said: “Small and mid-sized trucking companies make up more than 75% of the US trucking capacity, but many lack the resources and technology to run their business efficiently. As the world is moving towards digitalization, it will be existential for them to also become more digital, automated, and data-driven. Process automation platforms, like BeyondTrucks, can help trucking companies and the American economy to stay world-class.”

One carrier already finding success with BeyondTrucks’ PAP is Jay D’Varga, director of operations at Package Pro Logistics.

D’Varga said: “Digitization and automation is the future. I was losing so much time by manually handling paperwork including invoices. All the TMS options seemed hard to use, expensive, clunky, and outdated which is why I chose to go with a PAP platform because it’s cloud-based so I don’t have to pay for upgrades, and it has an easy-to-use desktop and mobile app. By automating my invoices, expenses, and workflows, I was able to add more revenue to my business and still save time.”

(Image: BeyondTrucks)

PAP vs. TMS

For years, TMSs have been a popular tool for carriers to digitize operations and store data. While a TMS can be powerful, many of these systems are on-premise software, often requiring IT departments to manage the servers they live on and pay for costly upgrades, maintenance and customer support. This can work for larger carriers who have the human and financial resources, but it falls short of the needs of small and midsize companies that do not have the same resources to maintain servers.

Most TMSs also function more like digital filing cabinets and are incapable of building continuous workflows and unified data. This, in addition to the complex nature of many TMSs often requiring additional staff to enter data in multiple locations, can result in more challenges and added work instead of simplifying processes.

PAPs are originally built for small and midsized carriers in order to improve the way users access and interact with data. 

PAPs are cloud-based, meaning they can be accessed from anywhere users have an internet connection. The security of the cloud, with multiple layers of backups, ensures critical data is never lost, so there is no need for costly servers to house data.

These systems are far more than just places to store data, however. They are built specifically for connecting and streamlining tasks along an operational process.

Galland explained: “PAPs are fundamentally different from modern TMSs: PAPs leverage dynamic data while TMSs, even the cloud-based SaaS ones, use static data interfaces stitching together many different tools in a clunky way. Data in PAPs flows seamlessly, thanks to near-native integration and native development of certain features.”

The easy-to-use interface of a PAP allows users of any skill level to quickly pick up how to use it without the need for expensive and time-consuming training.

“PAPs by nature were born from the need for a more flexible, adaptable, easier-to-use and smarter platform to manage a trucking business. It is fascinating though that what was really born out of need for smaller carriers is also truly of tremendous appeal for larger fleets. After all, who doesn’t like a more efficient team and real-time visibility about how your business is doing?” Galland said.

Ultimately, PAPs’ simple interface enables more fleets to digitize and automate their operations so they have more of what matters — more time and better data.

To learn more about PAPs and BeyondTrucks’ PAP solution, click here.

Download the free Industry White Paper on The Future of Mid-Size Trucking: Opportunities to Leverage Automation for Operations, People, and Finances here. 

Jenny Glasscock

Prior to joining FreightWaves, Jenny worked as a staff writer at a weekly newspaper and later as a safety assistant at a trucking company. She now enjoys a combination of both her interests as a FreightWaves sponsored content writer. She received her B.A. in English Publishing Studies from Illinois State University in 2018 and currently lives in Marengo, Illinois.