October 2012 | Sponsored | Thought Leaders

SaaS-Based Transload Management Systems Enable Transport Efficiencies

Tags: Logistics I.T., Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

Erv Bluemner is Senior Vice President, Product Strategy, Research & Development, RMI, a GE Transportation Company, 404-355-6734

Q: Why are rail shippers turning to transload facilities to ship products to receivers?

A: Transload facilities bring significant economic advantage to shippers who are not directly served by railroads, but desire the cost-effectiveness of rail shipping. Transloading operations provide the capability to transfer products between transport modes—primarily truck to rail. Typically, products are transported by rail to transload facilities, where cargo is transferred from railcars into trucks for final-mile delivery to the receiver—or in the reverse, "first mile" from truck to rail.

As many as 1,800 transload centers operate in North America today, with many more in the planning stages. This has created a growing demand for software solutions to manage transload inventory quickly and easily.

In addition to lowering shippers' overall transport costs, transload operators provide a range of additional capabilities, including inventory management and automated replenishment planning, product storage, transport planning/coordination, shipment paperwork processing, and other value-added services such as equipment maintenance, product packaging, and equipment cleaning. These efficiencies allow shippers to reduce delivery times and ensure ready access to product.

Q: How can today's transload facilities effectively respond to the operational complexities of managing on-site shipper inventory/shipments, and deliver decreased transport costs?

A: Transload facilities have become the central hub of end-to-end supply chain product transport and fulfillment processes for many rail shippers. Transload management systems must orchestrate appropriate inventory availability and replenishment cycles, while also coordinating inbound and outbound movements between rail and other carriers. Transload facilities find great benefits from Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions that deploy quickly, and easily integrate with enterprise resource planning systems and electronic data interchange sources to provide seamless inventory and operations management, and network transport coordination.

Q: What should a transload owner or operator look for in a transload software solution provider?

A: Transload facility operators should expect their solution provider to have a deep understanding of the rail supply chain, and close association with railroad companies. Providers must demonstrate an understanding of transload operational processes and bring intuitive, innovative solutions that apply advanced technology components to automate, orchestrate, and optimize workflows; manage product inventories; and streamline transportation transfers. Such solutions provide a winning solution for transload operators by facilitating real value delivery to their shipper customers.