Shipping More with Less

Oracle Transportation Management cuts shipping-related carbon and costs.

May 2011

As companies work to deliver goods, analysis of transportation and logistics is one of the best and earliest indicators of economic contraction or expansion. Recent growth in the demand for transportation and logistics services across all industries demonstrates that the global economy is starting to rebound. However, transportation and logistics managers still must contend with volatile fuel prices and capacity shortages, as well as continued pressure to restrain budget and improve sustainability. Transportation and logistics costs can range from 8 to 20 percent of a country’s gross domestic product.

According to analysis from Logistics Management, the transportation industry is currently growing. But capacity is restrained because firms made fewer investments in transport assets during the recession. Additionally, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that energy markets will remain tight, so trucking fuel prices will continue to increase in 2011. As a result, shippers will have to find ways to use fewer and more-expensive resources to address a rebounding demand for goods this year.

Oracle Transportation Management 6.2, introduced in January 2011, features a variety of market-driven enhancements that give users a single unified platform to reduce global transportation and logistics costs and boost efficiency, while providing critical economic incentives to expand enterprise sustainability efforts.

Oracle Transportation Management 6.2 helps companies effectively manage the physical movements of goods in their supply chains, ranging from local deliveries to international shipments. The latest release offers improved fleet management, load management, rail transportation management, and dock scheduling—areas where companies can achieve sustainability benefits as well.

“Oracle Transportation Management 6.2 helps users do a better job sourcing freight services and transportation,” says Derek Gittoes, vice president of logistics product strategy at Oracle. “Users can make transportation carrier or supplier decisions not just based on cost but also based on the environmental profile.”

Gittoes says that shipping optimization features in Oracle Transportation Management help companies minimize the costs associated with moving goods by optimizing the number of goods loaded onto a truck and the travel miles associated with delivery. This leads to less fuel consumed and lower emissions from the fleet. New three-dimensional load configuration features, for example, allow users to carefully plan loads when shipments must be divided into different compartments with different temperatures or other handling requirements. The load configuration feature even helps plan loads when shipping in railcars with the unique curved roof designs used in Europe.

“The more you can fit into the equipment, the less it costs you on a per-unit basis,” says Gittoes. “There’s always a direct benefit tied together between the operational efficiency and environmental impact.”

Improvements in fleet management also mean that firms managing logistics can now benefit from enhanced scheduling capabilities and an interface that supports street-level routing and mapping. This allows users to change routes and deliveries even when a schedule has already been executed and trucks are on the road. “Oracle Transportation Management can be used to replan the route and give drivers new assignments in real time,” says Gittoes.

Because rail travel typically offers companies a cheaper alternative to moving freight by truck, Oracle Transportation Management 6.2 includes more support for rail transportation, including shipment rating, shipment execution, and rail equipment tracking features. “The environmental impact of freight that’s moved on rail is also a lot less,” Gittoes adds.

Also featured is an improved scheduling algorithm, making it easier than ever to manage dock appointment schedules at distribution centers. Now, companies can give trucks specific time slots to pick up or deliver goods, eliminating both downtime and the emissions generated by idling trucks.

“When you’re more efficient with logistics and transportation, you’re moving more, and trucks are better filled,” says Gittoes. “It’s a direct cost benefit with a direct environmental impact benefit.”