Seems that business is starting to grow for the logistics sector thanks to increasing movement of manufacturing sites from Asia to North America and Mexico. Part of what is making the move successful, according to Fleet Owner contributor Sean Kilcarr is “the rise of simple and less expensive cloud-like computing options for managing logistic operations.”
His interview with Tompkins International VP Valerie Bonebrake revealed that the firm’s analysts are not only seeing a growth in cross border trade with Mexico but with Canada as well. With major retailers like Target and Nordstroms making moves into these regions there is increasing need for third party logistics (3PLs) companies to also expand into these markets.
Easing the load on tracking and managing these now far flung and more heavily traveled routes is the availability of cloud-based transportation management systems (TMS) and Bonebrake noted “This capability is now affordable for mid-sized companies [and] while some may choose to adopt the technology, others see more value in pooling their freight to leverage greater buying power,”.
Although there are several types of transportation management systems they are only now beginning to gain a foothold and all will admit that no two logistics companies are alike. This usually means that there will be a certain amount of customization required to meet specific business needs and many times it requires the integration of TMS into other systems like warehouse management or order processing.
In addition, the TMS software can be costly off-the-shelf and the systems that are not as expensive usually have limited the amount of customization that can be easily done just to keep it cheap.
In a guest commentary for Logistics Viewpoints Brian Armieri, Chief Technology Officer at MercuryGate, sums up the space and the delays to adoption, “All software companies want to build products that are feature-rich, defect- free, and easy to maintain. Meanwhile, software users demand a rapid ROI, low-cost implementations, and customizable solutions. Users of transportation management systems are no different. They’ve long been searching for the ability to customize software to work the way they want it to work and look the way they want it to look. Traditionally, customization came at a steep cost. Some modern web-based systems have recently offered the lure of reduced operational cost but sacrificed on the ability to customize.”
The types of customization will vary from firm to firm but they will usually involve front-ends, types of data fields and how they are validated, which business process can or will be enabled by the software, and how they talk to or are integrated with other systems.
For you to really realize all the value of even an “off the shelf” solution you may need to seek the lower cost development services and expertise of an offshore development company. Many have been working with the transportation industry for years and some of the “home grown” systems in use today were actually “grown” by development teams in countries with lower overall rates for such services.
Even customization of existing systems and software can be done very cost effectively and help companies meet the need to rapidly scale up to greet these new emerging opportunities in North American logistics.
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