On Monday, Sept. 23, hundreds of transportation executives and IT managers entered the classrooms on the second floor of the Anaheim Convention Center. Earlier that morning, Dave Wangler, president of TMW Systems, spoke to a sizeable audience of perhaps 1,700 on the third floor during the opening session of the company’s annual user conference.
If the migration from the third to the second floor is any indicator of where transportation technology is headed, and what tools are necessary to succeed, then business intelligence is where most people want to stake a claim.
This year was the first time TMW’s user conference, named TransForum, was held on the West Coast, Wangler noted. He described in great detail how Westward migration forever changed the course of American history in the 19th century. He drew a parallel between those early settlers and modern-day transportation professionals.
“California’s beauty and natural wealth symbolized an ultimate reward for decades of westward expansion that many people saw as America’s Manifest Destiny,” said Wangler. For most settlers, the motivation to move West was personal. They wanted a second chance to succeed, and in business it is no different.
“For some folks, it may have been a third or fourth chance, but that desire to tear out pages someone else has written for you and to write your own story is something we feel just as urgently today,” he said. “If you had a second chance — or a third or fourth chance — to deploy a new technology solution for your company, what would you do differently this time?”
Transportation companies have many viable options today that were not ready for prime-time five years ago, he said, pointing to cloud computing, business intelligence, and personal devices like smartphones and tablets. Amid all the changes in technology, Wangler said the vision for TMW is simple:
“We want to provide a seamless flow of information from shipper to provider to driver, and back again — one that enables better decision-making, with the most appropriate means of visualization and interaction for each and every user.”
As the crowd migrated to dozens of classrooms on the second floor, “Transport Analytics Overview” quickly filled to capacity. In it TMW explained how a line of business intelligence products can create a “single version of the truth.” The product line consists of TMW Data Warehouse, TMW Data Warehouse Explorer and TMW Transport Analytics Visual Solutions.
Companies are inundated with data, but many lack the time and resources to find the answers they need in time to change results. Analysis traditionally has been limited to determining what happened rather than finding out what should be done to change business performance, said James Langley, TMW’s vice president of business analytics.
Before joining TMW, Langley worked as an analyst for several large trucking firms including J.B. Hunt and U.S. Xpress. As an analyst he spent 80 percent of his time trying to find data and the other 20 percent answering questions. With the pre-built dashboards in Visual Solutions, fleet managers do not have to find data, he said; everything they need to solve problems in critical areas like utilization is available within three mouse clicks.
With the Data Warehouse Explorer users at any level can create custom reports using a “report pallete” to select content from across all TMW software platforms and applications.
The business intelligence products are useful for carriers that do not have specialists on staff to create reports, says Dennis Morgan, chief operating officer for Cowan Systems, a 1,600-truck carrier based in Baltimore, Md. Cowan Systems, ranked 64 on the CCJ Top 250, has its own resources to create reports using SQL commands from one software platform, TMW Suite, used by its truckload and non-asset intermodal and brokerage businesses.
In August, 2012, Trimble acquired TMW Systems in its Transportation and Logistics (T&L) group. After a full year of new ownership, Wangler said the company is leveraging opportunities to deliver TMW products like the TMT maintenance management system through Trimble’s sales channels. The company will also continue to look for opportunities to acquire companies to expand its product portfolio, Wangler told CCJ.
The Trimble acquisition has created more career opportunities for TMW employees as well. “Now folks can say 15 years from now I can still be in Trimble but not have to do (trucking),” he said. For more on the impact of the Trimble acquisition, click here. By all indications, however, there is no shortage of opportunities for Trimble and for TMW to continue to expand in the trucking industry, just as there was never a shortage of pioneers willing to explore the West.
At the TransForum conference, TMW also announced the following new features and enhancements to its product lines:
- For TMW Operations 2014, a new module for streamlined appointment setting and management; user-definable column and table auditing; configurable Company Planner screens to tailor end-user workflow to specific business processes.
- For TMW Web Products, a more efficient user interface along with report integration capabilities using SSRS distinguish this new web framework for the unified delivery of multiple TMW portal products such as CarrierHub, eStat and others through a single installation process.
- For TMWSuite Fuel Dispatch/Field Services modules, the addition of Commodity RVP (Reid Vapor Pressure) tracking; user alerts when manual order creation conflicts with automatically generated orders for a delivery location under forecast management; faster company ID or name resolution from partial text during oil field Order Entry; hover-over comment notes on Planning Boards to quickly update users about activity at a specific stop location.
- For TruckMate 2013, new features for intermodal marketing companies to help select appropriate rail and dray carriers by cost, equipment type, container owner, preferred carrier and service type; a redesigned Container Depot module; chassis management enhancements for billing, termination and intelligent linkage to containers; TM4Web portal user interface enhancements and more powerful rate-quoting tools with access to historical rate quotes.
- For Appian DirectRoute and related Appian products, enhanced backhaul selection process and a no-mix tanker functionality for liquid and gas shipments in multi-compartment delivery vehicles; for Transportation Modeler, a rating engine to assist analysts in developing bids and optimal mode selection among private fleet, less-than-truckload and truckload options, in addition to support of pool point locations; for ResourcePro, support of 2013 HOS rules mandating breaks and rest periods for drivers on weekly routes.
- For TL2000, a new browser-based graphical user interface to transform the character-based IBM i application with highly configurable screens, point-and-click mouse support, new dashboard views and mapping visualization, available under the product name TL2000 Web Edition.
- In the TMW Data Warehouse business intelligence platform, Visual Utilization for Transport Analytics is extended for the Innovative IES product family; new options to combine selected content from TMWSuite, Innovative, TMT Fleet Maintenance–SQL and a number of third-party providers in a single report for seamless data analysis across the enterprise.
- For Optimization products, HOS and electronic driver hour logging integrations to IDSC MatchAdvice have been updated for all current TMS and mobile communications partners, supporting regulatory changes such as the 30-minute break provision, the 1-5 AM restart requirement and the 70-hour recapture at midnight; the IDSC ExpertFuel V 8.2 release features a comprehensive, browser-based reporting suite with back-end database, card lock and pricing data integration to major fuel card services and support for multiple fuel card providers.