June 2017 | Commentary | Green Landscape

5 Ways Your TMS Can Help You Go Green

Tags: Transportation Management Systems (TMS), Transportation, Logistics, Technology , Supply Chain, Sustainability

Karen Sage is Chief Marketing Officer, MercuryGate, 877-537-6419

Some of the most common reasons to implement a Transportation Management System (TMS) include automation, visibility, and optimization, all of which can lead to reduced costs and greater efficiency. However, a TMS also has the ability to help you be more environmentally responsible.

Sustainability matters to businesses and individuals—both in terms of what they buy and how they select vendors. So, how can you make sure your supply chain is environmentally responsible? Here are five ways a TMS can help create a green supply chain.

  1. Plan routes for fewest miles traveled. Most TMS solutions provide route planning as a core capability. With control tower visibility, you can build enterprise plans across your transportation network to ensure all shipments move using the most efficient route.

    You can also use TMS to optimize multi-pick, multi-drop, and continuous moves while exploring backhaul options to eliminate empty miles. Strategic route planning can result in fewer miles driven and less emissions.

  2. Optimize modal choices. Some TMS providers offer transportation optimization as an option. If parcel is native to the TMS, you can optimize loads across all modes based on data regarding rates, transit times, and customer service requirements.

    Intermodal rail may also be an economical way to handle cross-country moves, and some TMS solutions include options that allow users to access intermodal capacity from railroads directly. Reducing the number of vehicles on the roads decreases emissions.

  3. Automate processes to reduce reliance on paper. Beyond the trucks, trains, and roads, you can improve your supply chain's environmental responsibility by changing the way you work. A strong TMS allows you to automate manual processes and simplify access to large amounts of data, without using paper to print spreadsheets.
  4. Select carriers that model environmental responsibility. The American Trucking Associations (ATA), the trucking industry's advocacy group, has stated that one of its goals is to reduce the carbon footprint of member companies. To that end, carriers are investing in new engines, using efficient particulate filters, and even testing alternative fuels.

    You can make the conscious choice to select carriers that have demonstrated environmental responsibility and build this into your TMS carrier management or procurement preferences.

  5. Model your carbon footprint. Some TMS solutions include capabilities for modeling the carbon footprint of your entire transportation plan, with factors weighted for each mode of transport you use.

    For example, some systems estimate that less-than-truckload (LTL) transportation uses approximately 20 percent more CO2 than truckload for the same distance and weight. That's because LTL modes typically travel farther to accommodate other stops and the average vehicle is not 100 percent full of cargo.

Finally, you can find an unexpected bonus in using your TMS to help you go green. Many capabilities and practices that are good for the environment are also financially good for your business. Operating more efficiently improves profitability.