Integrated Shipping Solutions with DATASCOPE’s TMS Module
We’ve developed our Transport Management System (TMS) module to be able to automatically integrate into your shipping solutions to ensure that the processes on your warehouse or distribution center floor are fully integrated and automated. The TMS module contains core entities -- called plug-ins -- that provide an extra layer for you or your developer to manipulate any of the data going in or out of the WMS, thereby enabling all of the interfacings between your normal WMS and external, third-party shipping software. Normally, there are standard cloud-based solutions (ProShip, Logistyx, FreightPOP, etc.) that integrate with FedEx, UPS, USPS, and other carriers doing the actual integration work.
The TMS module creates the interface layer between the Datascope WMS and any one of those third-party software solutions on the floor. The net effect of this interfacing is on the floor itself. There, you can process orders easily and let the automation take care of shipping, labeling, and everything else in the background for you. In this article, we’ll be focusing on the steps between the Datascope WMS and the third-party software.
TMS Initial Validation Process
There are 3 checks that make up the initial part of the TMS process:
- Address validation to check that the address is correct. This helps you avoid penalty fees for incorrect addresses, particularly on small parcel orders.
- Type validation applies specific rules to the order and decides if it’s best to ship as LTL, FTL, or a small parcel order. The rules can be modified easily within the system.
- Rate shopping analyzes every freight company to find the cheapest option. This choice then automates back into the software and sets the carrier for shipping.
When using the third-party software and validating the address, the third-party carrier will validate the address itself and send you the final answer. There are times when some of those third-party shipping solutions do not have a validation process in their software. In those cases, there is a standard interface into US Postal Service (USPS) that has a standard cloud-based address validation service so you don’t get hung up on the validation process.
It doesn’t matter who you’re integrating with because the plug-ins allow you to integrate into pretty much anything, as long as it’s a cloud-based solution. All the integrations into the WMS are updated -- dates, addresses, types of shipment, carriers, etc. -- and the tracking numbers are all integrated into the software as well. You can eventually go back into an order to see what tracking numbers are processing and query them with the carrier.
Small Parcel vs LTL Orders
Once the TMS module is turned on, this initial 3-step validation service needs to process those orders and they need to be in the correct state before they can be released to the warehouse for picking. Once that happens, the normal picking process and picking release take place. That’s followed by the normal checkout area processes. From the checkout area, however, shipping will be slightly different depending on whether the order is a small parcel or LTL.
On a small parcel order, you integrate with the TMS every time a carton is generated. On the other hand, LTL order typically goes a slightly different way through the warehouse and all of the information will be sent all together at the end.
Rather than using conveyor lines, it involves pallet loads of products that are picked and brought to a checkout area of the floor. The checkout area processes the cartons with any labeling requirements, loads them into a pallet, and moves the pallet to the shipping area. In the shipping area, the pallet wrapper weighs the pallet and adds dimensions and mass so the TMS module can properly re-rate shop the order. Finally, there is the loading stage where the pallets are physically put into the trucks.
Why Use the TMS Module?
The purpose of the TMS module is to create an environment where order processing on the floor -- small parcel orders, LTL orders, etc. -- are running through the same processes that you run currently. However, the integration will happen on the back end so there is no need to go into a different shipping software. The solution will automate all of it behind the scenes.
We’ve accomplished the entire integration through plug-ins; we have already written plug-ins for ProShip, Logistics (formerly ADSI) and we’re currently working on integrating with FreightPop. It doesn’t really matter which solution you choose as, ultimately, you can take those plug-ins and use them or adjust them any way you want. If you use a different third-party shipping solution, the mappings can be easily developed by mapping the files across, which your DSP will normally do.
The TMS module also has a few other features and perks:
- Tracking information can be sent to the customer’s email address using triggers, either when the carton is generated or the shipment is shipped
- Caters to manual deliveries and manual capture of tracking information
- Easy to validate US and Canadian addresses in the same shipment by combining standard, cloud-based validation with a custom plugin
- All interfaces and plugins are set up for cross-border shipping and billing throughout the delivery process
The TMS module is for situations where you’ve outsourced your shipping and you want to let the software determine how best to ship it, including cheapest options and necessary documentation. Hopefully, those with large distribution centers will find this helpful for automating processes on the floor. For more detailed information and software demonstrations, please watch our TMS Module Webinar or contact DATASCOPE today.