Logistics Software on Freight Load Boards: An Overview

Freight matching load boards are one of the ways the Internet has transformed the auto transport business. Instead of labor-intensive pre-digital systems that rely on phone communication and physical record-keeping, online load boards allow truck operators, brokers and shippers to instantly deliver quotes and bid for jobs. Another major advantage of online boards is the ability to integrate logistics software, allowing carriers to plot routes and track all kinds of useful statistics automatically, right through the online interface. This article is a basic introduction to integrated load board logistics software.

Load boards aren’t just for freight carriers – shippers who have freight to transport can create accounts to post their job on the board, though they will see a different interface than either brokers or carriers. Advanced boards have the ability to provide quote estimates that they compile based on past transactions conducted on the board, to help the shipper anticipate and budget costs. When shippers post jobs, brokers and carriers can view them to optimize truck loads and bid on the contracts.

As we mentioned earlier, implementing load boards online also makes it possible to implement advanced computerized logistics solutions, and this is exactly what the industry has done.

If you ever wondered how auto transport carriers pick the best routes, they do it by using truck mapping, routing and mileage software that selects the optimal path automatically. For a modern business that relies on transportation – not just trucking companies, but supermarket chains and many others – logistics software is a necessity. Large companies often have heavily-customized in house solutions; however, most auto transport carriers are relatively small businesses, so as an extra service, most online auto transport boards provide truckers access to logistics software as part of their membership.

While there is a variety of logistics programs on the market, most boards active today incorporate the PC*MILER software by ALK Technologies. Other route planning and mileage tracker software includes Viamente Route Planner, Telogis logistics suite, TruckMiles by ProMiles software and a number of others.

Integrated logistics software allows a board member to plan routes, estimate gas usage and track mileage – all important steps in giving the customer an accurate quote that reflects current fuel prices and won’t obliterate the carrier’s profit margin.

Moreover, logistics programs, including load board integrated ones, aren’t limited to calculating routes – with GPS tracking, they can also pinpoint the location of a vehicle and calculate the number of miles actually traveled, average speeds, fuel efficiency and much more. These features are great for carrier financial calculations, bookkeeping and efficiency improvements.

Routing software can contain helpful features for the carrier operator as well – while in transit, the driver can connect to the app and check traffic and road condition information from the 511 service in states and localities where it’s available.

These are only some of the great benefits that integrated logistics software can provide to transport carriers and truck operators. Learning to use this software to save gas and money, and improve workflow efficiency is crucial to your company’s success as a freight carrier.

Logistics Software Helps Companies Achieve the Optimal Freight Bid

Whether your company’s success depends on shipping a large amount of goods or a small amount of gods, chances are that your shipping process can benefit from the implementation of logistics management software. Also referred to as freight transportation software, logistics management software uses the power of logistics to increase the delivery time of a company’s products and cut its shipping costs in the process. While logistics software can benefit companies of any size, it remains ideal for small to midsized companies that don’t have the IT infrastructure to support a full scale shipping system and must therefore rely on third party shipping for the delivery of their goods to and from warehouses, to and from manufacturing locations and ultimately to store shelves. By using logistics software, companies can examine the shipping process from a variety of vantage points, including accounting, billing, dispatching, payroll, driver settlements, carrier settlements and shipping route efficiency, allowing them to realize the optimal freight bid.

In addition to the shipping process benefits that logistics software offers companies, perhaps its greatest advantage is that you don’t have to have a background in logistics to understand and operate it. On the contrary, the software comes with an easy to understand user interface that reduces learning curve, and the software can easily be integrated into a company’s already existing transportation procedures. Logistics software can be accessed from any computer location through the Internet and offers a variety of customized modules that allow all employees associated with the shipping process to view the process from their particular vantage point. Some of the module areas commonly offered by logistics software are accounting, customized reporting, scheduling, shipping management, purchasing management, labor management, job management, order management, inventory management, data import and export, cross currency management and labor management.

One scenario where logistics software regularly benefits companies by improving their shipping time and reducing the cost of the shipping process involves warehouse management. In some cases, companies that lack logistical capabilities end up choosing the shortest shipping route in terms of distance without considering the number of warehouse stops that are made along the route. Consequently, their goods take longer to reach their destination than they would have if shipped on a longer route that didn’t contain as many warehouse stops. In addition, more warehouse stops equals increased warehouse fees, and logistics software may discover that the additional fuel charges that result from a longer route are less expansive than the total warehouse fees of the shorter route.

Another scenario where logistics software helps companies improve delivery time and save money involves evaluating alternate means of transportation. Although a company might be used to moving its products by freight, logistics might reveal that it could improve delivery time and saving money by air shipping their products. Although traditionally more expensive than ground shipping; in some situations, air shipping can prove more economical than grounding shipping due to the collective expenses associated with ground shipping routes. Regardless of your company’s current shipping arrangements, examining them using logistics is certain to save you time and money by allowing you to realize the optimal freight bid and/or integrated transportation solutions.

Advantages of Logistics Software Over Third Party Logistics

For manufacturers who ship a steady supply of cargo, the cost of shipping can rival the cost of payroll. Consequently, reducing shipping costs is a full-time task for most shipping managers. Today, most shippers manage the logistical side of shipping (the part of the shipping process where costs can be cut) with one of the following resources:

  • In-house Logistics – A model of shipping logistics in which the shipping process is managed by a shipper’s own staff of experts.

  • Third Party Logistics (3PL) – A model of shipping logistics in which a third party manages one or more aspects of the shipping process.

  • Logistics software – A web-based or in-house program that allows shippers to choose its own shipping arrangements and perform important tasks such as a freight audit.

Most shippers prefer the first option, but paying a team of experts can be unaffordable. Left to choose between the second and third options, many shippers choose the latter based on the following considerations:

Cost

The cost of 3PL is based on the services a shipper receives. When a shipper receives only a few services through a standard 3PL provider or a service developer, 3PL can be affordable. However, when a shipper uses the comprehensive services of a customer adapter or customer developer, the cost of 3PL can be significant. A software-based resource can facilitate comprehensive shipping management for a fraction of the cost of high-level 3PL services.

Shipping Options

Some 3PL providers make carries arrangements using a narrow range of carrier options, such as those found in an electronic posting system. Conversely, logistics software allows shippers to choose from a limitless range of shipping options based on the appropriate shipping model (e.g. less than load or truckload), and perform a freight audit to monitor shipping costs.

Control

Shippers who use 3PL commonly complain that the shipping process feels too removed-a complaint that often results from the failure of a 3PL provider to provide ongoing, in-depth communication to the customer. Using a software-based resource eliminates this issue by placing the shipper in full control of the shipping process.

Permanence

When shippers use 3PL, they often go through multiple 3PL providers as their shipping process evolves, beginning with a standard 3PL provider and eventually using the services of a customer adapter or customer developer. In addition to being more expensive than using a software-based resource, switching from one 3PL provider to another requires forming new business contracts, continuously delegating more shipping tasks to a third party, and implementing new standards for quality control.

Most shippers wish to implement a permanent logistical solution as soon as possible, and implementing a software-based solution is the best way to do it. After the solution is implemented, it options can be changed as the shipping process changes, providing a seamless transition that does not require the customer to look for a new service provider.

Conclusion

For many shippers, logistics software is the most cost effective logistical resource. In addition to allowing shippers to choose from the broadest range of carrier options, it allows them to perform important tasks (e.g. freight audit) without the assistance of a third party. To learn more about the benefits of software-based logistics, contact a provider of transportation software.