Transportation Management Software – Automate the Dock-Scheduling Process

Proper management of scheduled deliveries and dock assignments at distributors, supplies, warehouses and other sites is vital to ensure goods and supplies reach their destinations in a timely and efficient manner. Without it, long lines, missed delivery times and frustrated drivers and dock staff are a possibility.

There are several ways distributors, warehouses, retailers and other facilities oversee this important, yet very time-consuming and tedious, task. Some rely on the traditional approach, whereby dock staff record delivery times, docks and other information in a paper appointment book and then communicate this information to drivers and suppliers by phone, e-mail, fax or other means. Still others may not have any scheduling process for their deliveries and allow drivers and their loads to deliver at any time.

Regardless of the method these groups use for the loading and unloading of products and materials, online transportation management scheduling software can help them improve their procedures by automating and streamlining the delivery process.

WHY ONLINE SOFTWARE BENEFITS DISTRIBUTORS, SUPPLIERS

Online transportation management systems are typically known as Software as a Service (SaaS), a term used to describe providers that offer online applications to customers as software on demand, pay as you go or with a contract. They’re accessible in the same manner as online banking sites, e-mail and social media groups. You simply access the software through a specified URL. And they’re manageable in much the same way as the aforementioned examples. Users typically create a username and password to access their scheduler and account.

Let’s look at a common scenario in which a distributor, warehouse or other facility that receives deliveries would use online transportation management software.

A facility decides that the current manner of handling inbound shipping is inefficient, and it determines that an online dock-scheduling system is the answer. After choosing a transportation software provider, it customizes its scheduler for the specific tasks it will be using it for. This probably would include adding and naming docks, doors and delivery stations, setting available delivery times and dates, and adding the specific delivery and shipping services.

The facility plans to offer its suppliers and drivers online self-scheduling, whereby the driver can access the scheduler online and schedule his or her delivery time and, if applicable, a specific dock or door. It informs its drivers and suppliers of the online scheduling option through e-mail, on its Web site, on paperwork, by phone and through other means. With most of its suppliers and drivers connected to the Internet, the online transportation management software proves extremely popular, and soon most of its deliveries are scheduled automatically online. Drivers and suppliers also receive a reminder e-mail and text message, generated automatically by the system, prior to their scheduled delivery date and time.

The new method of scheduling and managing deliveries has become a lot easier and much more efficient for the facility. It’s not only making it simpler for inbound drivers and dock staff, but it’s also experiencing considerable time and monetary savings, as less time and manpower is necessary for this tedious task.

Think of the more traditional and outdated methods for scheduling and managing deliveries, which oftentimes require the dock staff to phone or e-mail the driver and suppliers with the delivery information, write or type the delivery times, dates and other information into a paper book, spreadsheet, file or other document, and manage canceled or changed times. This process requires a substantial amount of time from dock staff, which could be used more productively with a more automated and streamlined process. For many distributors, warehouses, retailers and other facilities, transportation management software helps them accomplish this.

FUNCTIONALITY IMPORTANT IN TRANSPORTATION SOFTWARE

Specific functionality found in transportation management software is the key to its effectiveness. Although this can vary among providers, most programs offer such beneficial features as:

• Online dock self-scheduling. This can be one of the most important features of the software, as it allows drivers and suppliers to view availability and schedule their delivery times. They simply access the site in the same way as any Web site, view available docks and times, and then schedule it. The system will automatically book the time and specific dock without any further action from the distributor, supplier or driver.

• Automated e-mail and text message reminders. Sent out automatically by the system prior to scheduled delivery dates and times, automated e-mail and text message reminders are not only a much-appreciated benefit to drivers and suppliers, but also to the inbound facility, as they can reduce the number of missed or late deliveries.

• Record-keeping and reporting. The overall design of online transportation management and delivery systems makes record-keeping and reporting a simple process, as it centralizes and maintains delivery and supplier information. Locating and accessing data is quicker and easier with an online scheduler than a spreadsheet, folder, book or file. Generating reports is more efficient as well, and in some scheduling software, only requires a few mouse clicks.

More and more distributors, retailers, warehouses and other facilities that depend on inbound shipping are tapping into the power of the Internet for their delivery-scheduling needs. Transportation management software can be the perfect tool for automating and improving delivery operations. It’s cost-effective, accessible from any Internet connection, easy to set up and use, and convenient for dock staff as well as suppliers and drivers.