How Transport Network Management is Shaping the Future of Logistics

ERP-integrated transport network management solutions are shaping the future of logistics with innovative functionalities. Here’s how.

2020 was a pivotal year for supply chains everywhere. With the Covid-19 pandemic pushing rapid changes in retail behaviour, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and many other vendors were forced to adapt their logistics management processes. The events of last year unveiled supply chain weaknesses that can no longer be ignored, and which businesses must resolve to continue operating throughout 2021 and beyond. This is where transport network management can help.

Effective transport network management can help businesses streamline complex delivery networks, optimise their supply
chains and drive cost efficiencies, facilitating healthy commercial growth even during periods of unprecedented change. By driving change within supply chains, ERP solutions with transportation management functionalities are also responsible for shaping logistics as we know it.

Here, we consider why it’s time for logistics to evolve and how we can look to transport network management solutions to lead the way.

Why It’s Time for Logistics to Evolve

Logistics management is continuously evolving, and it has become increasingly important for logistics departments to adapt and adjust as we move into 2021. Here’s why:

  • Consumer behaviours have changed, with eCommerce sales on the rise. It is predicted that retail eCommerce sales will account for 27.5% of all of the UK retail sales recorded in 2020, with many customers turning to online shopping for the first time this year. This behavioural change has forced manufacturers and distributors to scale their processes, expand their fleet and grow their customer management responsibilities.
  • Environmental awareness has increased. The carbon cost of cargo transportation means freight forwarders must challenge traditional operation methods, digitalise and automate processes where possible and choose more sustainable delivery solutions.
  • Technology has evolved – and logistics departments that don’t take advantage of tech advancements will be left behind. With everything from the Internet of Things (IoT) to transportation management systems (TMS) available to help businesses automate commercial operations, it’s clear that logistics must move away from traditional methods to survive.
  • Global markets have expanded – and they are continuing to expand. The rise in eCommerce shopping allows manufacturers and wholesalers to take advantage of international custom, which means they must look towards supply chain and transportation management systems to globalise their operations.
  • Supply chain pressures have grown. The demand for agile supply chain management has intensified as a result of Covid-19 outbreaks, with freight forwarders working around the clock to supply individuals and businesses with online shopping purchases, food deliveries, personal protective equipment and medical supplies throughout the ongoing pandemic.

With efficient transport network management, logistics departments can respond to these changes while offering an elevated customer experience, ensuring sustainability and maximising both productivity and money-saving opportunities despite global pressures.

How Transport Network Management is Improving the Future of Logistics

The dynamic nature of logistics means that change is inevitable, and companies must react quickly to prepare for all eventualities and take advantage of all opportunities.

Leading enterprise resource planning systems, such as Microsoft Dynamics AX/D365FO, have provided a powerful solution to the needs of the industry, with functional Transportation Management modules for improved efficiency and cost savings. However, transportation management modules are responsible for more than just meeting industry requirements; they are also shaping industry requirements and changing the landscape of logistics.

Here are some of the ways that ERP solutions like AX/D365FO are shaping the future of logistics.

Enterprise Resource Planning Solutions are Maximising Delivery Network Efficiency

Transport network management solutions, especially ERP-integrated TMS software systems, have revolutionised logistics. By tracking every element of the supply chain on one centralised interface, TMS systems can:

  • Plan delivery routes for your inbound and outbound transportation;
  • Plan and manage the delivery and collection of cargo from shipping ports;
  • Ensure accurate order fulfillment;
  • Audit fleet performance and identify areas for improvement;
  • Identify the most suitable and profitable carriers to use; and much more.

These functionalities can improve performance and allow businesses to respond quickly in the event of delays. The events of 2020 have made it clear that this comprehensive approach to transportation management is vital for every logistics operation. The computerisation of tasks not only frees up valuable employee time but also makes it possible to expand fleets, scale commercial operations and tap into global markets.

In the future, we can expect more companies to move away from singular TMS solutions and adopt integrated ERP systems. With ERP software like Microsoft Dynamics AX/D365FO, it is possible to integrate the Transportation Management module alongside the Warehouse Management module for a comprehensive, end-to-end solution.

As global supply chain pressures increase, it is becoming progressively important to adopt an integrated transport network and warehouse management system to optimise every aspect of the supply chain, so this is one shift we can expect to continue developing.

Transport Network Management is Improving the Customer Experience

Transportation management systems have elevated the customer experience – and there’s no going back. By making it easier to cater to consumer demand and to foster positive customer relationships, TMS software has improved interaction between logistics operators and consumers and set a standard that all companies must adhere to.

For example, optimised route planning functionalities and the ability to track shipments from the warehouse to customers’ front doors have allowed businesses to make late deliveries a thing of the past. Access to real-time data also permits businesses to be proactive with problem-solving. If there’s a shipping delay, companies can use the available insights to predict the next closest delivery and update the customer as soon as possible. This responsive approach can prevent customer complaints and keep satisfaction rates high.

The ability to track freight forwarders on their journey can also open up trust and transparency between consumers and suppliers. Customers want to know when their product is due to arrive, and being able to track the cargo every step of the way provides reassurance that it’s due on time.

Offering this data to customers has also allowed businesses to streamline what has traditionally been a time-consuming manual process. Customers no longer need to contact retailers and distributors for updates on their order, as automated alerts can provide this information instead.

Transportation Management Solutions are Helping Logistics Operators to go Green

Customised ERP solutions are also making it easier for companies to promote sustainability within their supply chain. By recording and analysing key delivery metrics, including fleet mileage, transportation management solutions can identify areas for improvement within a logistics chain. Easy-to-use TMS software also enables accurate progress tracking, so once improvements have been implemented, it is quick and efficient to monitor their success.

Another key functionality of transportation management solutions is the ability to optimise route planning. This allows fleets to take the guesswork out of transportation by choosing the most direct route, using the least mileage and ensuring the lowest possible carbon emissions. Optimised route planning also minimises delays in transportation and shipping, which can prevent the wastage of time-sensitive deliveries containing perishable or medical cargo.

The ability to account for the cargo-carrying capabilities of vehicles in an intermodal transport network also helps to prevent overloading, which can lead to higher carbon emissions. This is something that logistics operators will need to pay much greater attention to as we look towards a greener delivery system.

Enterprise Resource Planning is Helping Logistics Operators to be More Agile

2020 highlighted the importance of fully-integrated logistics management solutions. As the pressure to cope with eCommerce demands surged for delivery networks during the Covid-19 pandemic, it became apparent within the industry that intelligent ERP solutions are a necessary investment.

While the events of last year were unique, the need to remain agile while facing intense pressure isn’t; logistics companies will need to continue simplifying complex networks and automating TMS solutions to stay competitive in 2021 and beyond. Comprehensive transport network management makes it possible to do so with the ability to improve interdepartmental communication, real-time insight interpretation and optimised route planning functionality.

By allowing logistics operators to take a more holistic approach towards delivery networks, ERP solutions such as Dynamics AX/D365FO can drive high performance while reducing transportation costs. Its adoption can help businesses remain resilient against all possible eventualities, whether it’s an increase in eCommerce sales during the festive season or political outcomes that affect shipping routes and regulations.


Choose ICS for Specialist Microsoft Dynamics ERP Solutions

If you require intelligent ERP solutions for your supply chain, choose the Microsoft-certified developers and experienced ERP consulting experts at ICS.

Last year, we released our innovative [ICS] Transportation Package for Dynamics AX 2012 R3/D365FO. Designed for companies with complex delivery networks, including manufacturers, distributors and postal service providers, the [ICS] Transportation Package seamlessly integrates into the Microsoft Dynamics ERP platform to expand its standard functionality. Our Transportation Package is intended to streamline essential delivery processes with its optimal vehicle route planning capabilities (including for multi-tier networks), and is here to shape the future of logistics.

To learn more about our new [ICS] Transportation Package and our industry-leading ERP implementation services, don’t hesitate to contact a member of the ICS team today. We look forward to revolutionising your digital transformation!