Getting to Know TMS, Part 1 – What is a Transportation Management System Anyway?

Through the acquisition of Chorus Logistics, W Energy Software extended our customers supply chain visibility, making even more possible by combining a state-of-the-art mobile app for drivers, producers, operators, and end users with a cloud-based back office suite and our oil & gas SaaS ERP. Energy industry veteran and technology guru Jeff O’Block takes to our blog with a new series that aims to demystify transportation management systems and explore the benefits for bulk commodity carriers, crude first purchasers, energy trading and risk management, and ESG.

Google “transportation management system” and you’ll get a raft of answers, but the definitions all boil down to a few concepts. Here’s how Wikipedia defines TMS:

A transportation management system (TMS) is a subset of supply chain management concerning transportation operations and may be part of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Depending on where you sit TMS can mean different things. It could be your business model, a specific type of technology, or even the paper form a trucker fills out. So, what does TMS mean to W Energy Software?

For us, precision and timeliness is everything because our customers live in a non-precise world. We’re not shipping just boxes of cereal or electronics. Oil tanks expand in the sun and dents in a hauler can impact your margins.

TMS starts with accurate measurements of the commodity we are moving, such as tank strapping, API gravity, and natural gas volume to BTU conversions. And delivering that commodity is vastly more complicated than a simple Amazon delivery – we want to track every molecule at every moment to ensure the exact volumes reach the exact buyer or seller at the right time across a labyrinthine oilfield supply chain. We also want to track every interesting characteristic of each commodity.

For most of the TMS products on the market you could just as easily call them “trucking management systems,” because that’s what they are designed to manage, fleets of trucks and drivers. The W Energy Software TMS solution is a heavy weight contender when it comes to managing such fleets but what’s also important for our definition of TMS is that the solution needs to be intermodal. crude, produced saltwater, and other oilfield commodities are finding their way along a mix of transportation modes – truck, pipeline, rail, vessel, and barge – so a TMS product for the oil & gas business needs to track shipments on any mode of transportation. Ours does.

Back to the last part of Wikipedia’s definition and the most important aspect of W Energy Software’s TMS vision. We don’t believe that TMS, the transactions you manage and the accounts receivable your team generate should exist outside of an ERP. In fact, that’s where every other TMS drops the ball. Our customers’ #1 pain point has been centered around accounting for custody transfer, which is why we integrated our core TMS toolset with W Energy Software’s financial accounting module.

Shopping around for a TMS? A killer mobile app, robust back office tools for dispatch, inventory management, physical positions, and invoice consolidation for transport as well as custody transfer- these are the chips that every player should be able to ante up. W Energy Software is the only one raising the stakes by seamlessly tying in all of these features with the general ledger, helping our customers fast track settlements and improve cash flow. Can your TMS do that?

Reach out with any questions and be sure to catch the next blog covering specific use cases for TMS and the upshot for lowering your carbon footprint.

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