Article

Making the Most of Your WMS Investment with Transportation Management

By Eric Lamphier,
Get the most out of your WMS with TMS

Working with the transportation team is a daily, hourly or even more frequent exercise for warehouse managers and supervisors. And today’s demands on distribution operations require warehouse and transportation leaders to collaborate closely to deliver results and exceed expectations. Why is it, then, that transportation and warehouse functions are often siloed and unsynchronized?

An Active Approach for Modern Distribution
Carefully choreographed and interdependent transportation and warehouse functions can enable more rapid processing of inbound and outbound shipments. Best-of-breed solutions streamline inventory management, minimize cycle times, and increase asset utilization while aligning with inbound and outbound shipment capacity and times. It all adds up to more reliably and predictably. 

The Inbound Operations Balancing Act
To find out if coordination between transportation and warehouse for inbound operations is right for your business, start by answering these questions:

  • Are inbound freight delivery schedules reliable?
  • Is the volume of inbound freight predictable?
  • Is resource capacity (labor and equipment) in balance with what is necessary to process incoming shipments?

If the answer is “no”, interconnection between the transportation management system (TMS) and warehouse management system (WMS) can put you on the path to solving problems that come from lack of reliability and predictability.  

By knowing, in detail, what freight is on its way, managers can do a more efficient job of labor and space planning. Equipment can be put to better use, too, since the number of people needed to operate equipment can scale up or down based on the size, complexity and frequency of shipments. 

Optimal Outbound Operations
When TMS and WMS are integrated for outbound, the warehouse staff can execute against well-planned outbound shipments, every time. If coordination is done manually using spreadsheets or disconnected systems, companies may miss out on an opportunity since real-time changes to the transportation plan won’t be reflected in the WMS system or work plan.   

When information is synchronized between WMS and TMS, loading trailers can become more efficient. For instance, managers can make sure goods are loaded in an ideal sequence and placed in proper temperature zones.

Advancing Operations
To advance operations even further, companies may want to explore multi-vendor pickups. Orchestrating multi-vendor pickups with warehouse operations can lead to lower transportation costs, reduced detention charges, fewer bottlenecks in the yard, and faster flow through and unloading. 

Another TMS capability, appointment scheduling, can be leveraged to ensure timeliness and predictability of inbound freight. This can help the DC plan for:

  • Where products need to be stored
  • Inspection or separation of one type of product from another, in the case of perishables, for example
  • Value-added services or customization applied at the DC level
  • Where to schedule people so they’re at the ready the moment a shipment arrives

Convergence of Warehouse and Transportation Operations
Ready to make a change? Start by taking a close look at the areas of the business where the value of convergence is clear-cut. There may be efficiency gains from better alignment between labor, resources, and inbound and outbound shipments. For others, it could be shoring up visibility so there’s more predictability with shipments.
    
If you are a Manhattan WMS user that adds Manhattan’s TMS to your distribution center technology stack, you can take advantage of a common platform and “single source of the truth” for data. In this way, you can rapidly match inbound inventory supply with outbound order demand to maximize service levels. When exceptions arise or the plan shifts, transportation and warehouse teams alike are immediately made aware of changes, resulting in more synchronized and efficient operations.   

Modern distribution centers are not architected to store inventory, but rather to support swift inventory movement across all demand channels. Keeping things moving reliably and predictably requires partnership between warehouse and transportation, at both a system and organizational level, to make the entire operation run more effectively and at a lower cost.