Transportation optimisation is an important part of a good transportation management system (TMS).
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When assessing transportation optimisation capability of a TMS, most people still have to think deeply about what exactly is being optimised, and to get what result. The reason is simple - few, if any, vendors provider a three dimensional optimisation function for transportation.
Whether you are talking about the point-to-point transportation or a milk-run there are three critical elements to transportation optimisation:
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1. Route optimsation - just like google maps, each route can be optimised to get you there quickest, or for least distance, or least cost (not just toll costs, but also time value of being in traffic.)
2. Load optimisation - is an art for of filling up the truck, railway wagon, container or cargo hold of aircraft or ship in such a way that you maximise the load for weight, volume, or revenue from the cargo.
3. Loading and Discharging Sequence Optimisation - is an art of loading and storing the goods in such a way that they are readily available for discharge in minimum amount of time, using the technology available at the discharge location.
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Once you recognise these three elements, and all the practical aspects of transportation optimisation, and ask for demonstration of actual functionalities in the TM systems on offer, you will realise that a lot of so called functionality is vapourware - akin to smoke and mirrors.
Do not be surprised if you find that there is still a lot of room for further development in TMS and application of human intelligence in actual transportation planning.