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Transportation

Hurricane Irma & Harvey, a Transportation Management System, and You

With Hurricane Irma ready to deliver the back half of a devastating one-two punch to the south in the days ahead, your freight intelligence will once again put your transportation management system to the test. By Dan Clark



For those whose operations weren’t affected by Hurricane Harvey, let’s review what we learned or re-learned.

State of Emergency
Whether it’s MASH episodes, war movies or your favorite emergency rescue show, priority one is to stop the bleeding.

That means deleting zip codes that either the feds or the state’s emergency management agency have closed to deliveries (and pickups).

Supply Chain Revamp
After you learn what supplies are needed in the area affected by the act-of-God event, you need to do a bit of re-engineering with your supply chain to locate the sorely needed freight and plan with your carriers how to get it on its way to help power the recovery effort.

Reworking your freight shipping to accommodate the impact of natural disasters is no walk in the park, but it’s a shorter one when you consider a robust TMS and its one-source for talking to all your carriers and viewing changes in real-time and acting accordingly.

No Manual?
That’s opposed to the plight of shippers who still rely on manual processes that include visiting numerous websites for critical information over and over, sending emails, power dialing and faxing that waste time when you’re trying the hardest to be quick and flexible.

Real-time Communications
As the recovery evolves, freight shippers can really use truck and freight tracking functionality to flexible manage their assets – that’s a fancy way of saying know where your trucks are and be aware of their every move.

Go Mobile
This is where mobile technology shines. In dark times, you can reach drivers and they can reach you using nothing more than a smartphone and a simple app download. Yeah, there’s an app for that and it can be part of your TMS.

Multi-modal
Cover all delivery options. We saw – and still see – with Hurricane Harvey, in Houston that in worst case scenarios even delivery beyond trucks wasn’t initially an option. You probably saw the ad-hoc navy of folks with boats hitting the water to deliver emergency aid to the hardest hit areas.

With this in mind, it’s best to have shipping options which means the ability to cover all modes of freight delivery – ground, air, and ship – in a single system. Many complex problems can be solved simply by using multi-modal freight shipping.

Post Event Assessment
Once things return to fairly normal, the freight shipper still faces a big challenge: figuring out the price tag for surviving the latest act of God. A well-equipped TMS can help you figure out the costs associated with reacting to a disaster.

Justify Spends
While a strong TMS can help you better deal with acts of God and man-made disasters, you’ll find that adding muscle often means going beyond a base system to include integrations, special apps, and even managed services.

Though this requires new spending for those who aren’t bulked up to tackle tragedies, look at the costs you incurred in dealing with the very latest act of God.

Cost avoidance itself can help you justify additions and improvements to your TMS.

The Road Ahead for TMS
We’ve all heard the saying “proper preparation prevents poor performance.” That’s all well and good but freight shippers and carriers with years in the business know planning for the unplanned is far easier said than done.

But a robust Transportation Management System will be able to lighten the load.

About the Author
Dan Clark, Founder and President of Kuebix, is a transportation industry veteran. He possesses extensive operations and sales experience gained from years of working with the leading freight carriers.

Related Article: Integrating Transportation Management Systems Functionality via API Technology

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