NASHVILLE. What’s now driving forward every development at TMW Systems is the technology provider’s “recognition of fundamental shifts” that are redrawing the freight-transportation spectrum, company president David Wangler told a standing-room-only crowd here at the TMW TransForum User Conference.
“The lines are blurring even further between trucking companies, brokers and 3PLs--- between private fleets and dedicated carriers--- and between the logistics department of a manufacturer or distributor and the operations of a well-run logistics service provider,” he explained.
“We’ve seen these forces at work for several years now and much of TMW’s new product development and partnership initiatives are designed to address these market and business shifts,” Wangler continued.
Emphasizing that TMW has bene closely tracking its customers’ business environments for some time, he pointed out that “for the past eight years” the firm has been adding solutions and extending its technology platforms “to address significant trends in the transportation industry.”
Wangler said that thanks to this ongoing effort to stay on top of and respond to evolving customer needs, “we believe that TMW Systems is the only company that can support the rapidly evolving needs of comprehensive logistics service providers.”
He defined those providers as companies that “fully integrate supply-chain management practices with logistics expertise and transportation savvy to offer compelling value that sets them apart from their competition.
“It makes little difference whether these service providers are in-house transportation departments, dedicated carriers, non-asset logistics outsourcing, or true fleet operators,” he elaborated. “It is essential for all of them to be connected in some way with a truck and a driver to deliver that service.”
Wangler said technology for these firms will need to “provide in-transit visibility with deep order context-- along with data on the load, the stop schedule, the trailer, the power unit, the driver’s available hours and home-time needs, and the GPS location and current routing.
“And it should make this rich data available to multiple stakeholders in different forms along the way,” he continued. “These stakeholders might be found in a dispatch center where asset availability flows seamlessly to the logistics planning desks. Or they might be at work for the shipper or consignee, watching load status updates flow through to their supply chain dashboards. It is our vision to bring this powerful concept of continuous visibility to [a] working, industry reality.”
Underscoring just how fundamental are the shifts in the freight-transportation landscape, Wangler contended that given the capacity constraints brought on by driver scarcity, “it’s time for both shippers and service providers to move beyond the outmoded concept of the ‘supply chain,’ which never really matched the complex realities of surface transportation in North America.
“We have to break new ground in optimizing capacity and proliferating visibility,” he continued. “To do so, we need to recognize that technology-enabled transparency will have to work across today’s complex supply networks— and it has to work across all the different nodes that make up those networks.”
Wangler said TMW has been working toward meeting the challenges of this new reality “in cooperation with so many of our creative customers.” He noted that even the firm’s developments in data warehousing and business intelligence are “focused on crossing data domains, combining information from diverse sources and presenting it with appropriate context. This information comes from sales, operations, asset performance and external market sources, to generate new business insights.”
Going into detail, Wangler advised of these developments:
- “TMW is pioneering truck capacity management, stop planning and inventory visibility with real-time VIN number detail shared by all network stakeholders. We’re doing this through exciting developments made in partnership with several highly innovative customers.”
- “TMW is powering the growth of service networks that function like an extension of a carrier’s own maintenance operations. Our asset maintenance software is connecting growing, heavy-duty service organizations with more fleet customers in many ways. Smaller fleets can access fleet maintenance technology on the web, powered by our core TMT software, and gain instant access to their fleet repair history and status, PM plan and costs. For the fleets already managing their maintenance operations with TMT, service providers can feed their information to you directly, just like the work that’s carried out in your own shop facilities.”
- “Our newly announced relationship with 3Gtms brings a critical capability to manage and optimally consolidate shipments so they can take advantage of the best and most cost-effective modes of transport. The groundbreaking, real-time optimization that 3Gtms brings to the table drives out inefficiencies much earlier in the transportation process.
- “Through our Appian software, dedicated carriers-- along with distributors and manufacturers running their own fleets--- are already optimizing multi-order, multi-stop routes.”
Turning to TMW’s growth, Wangler said it is being managed effectively by “realigning resources and investing in new ones” to adapt and respond to market demands.
“Our growth has created lots of opportunity to promote good people, and to bring in fresh perspective and new skills from outside TMW,” he pointed out.
Wangler advised that the company is “taking steps to further cross-train support employees as part of multi-functional teams and moving developers across different product groups so they can build new skills and broader business knowledge more quickly. Our HR group is recruiting from tech companies and consulting firms across the country to find new people who can make a positive impact quickly in our organization.
“This year, we created a Product Management group that includes some of TMW’s most senior domain experts,” he continued. “Their mission is to align our solution delivery more closely with your developing business needs.”
In addition, he said TMW is “exploring new software development tools to improve internal visibility and collaboration” and “rearranging” some of its technology groups to respond to changing customer interests and business activities.
“Like our customers,” Wangler summed up, “TMW is committed to the transportation industry for the long haul, wherever the road may take us.”