The history of the transport management system

09 May 24

Over the past five decades, logistics has been reshaped by technological innovation. From basic computer programs to sophisticated systems, the evolution of transport management systems (TMS) exemplifies this transformation.

In this week’s blog, we’re delving into the history of TMS software – exploring pivotal moments and the current trajectory of the logistics industry.

The transport management revolution

The transport management system is the linchpin of a modern transportation infrastructure. It orchestrates the movement of goods, allocates resources efficiently and provides operators with real-time insights. A product as comprehensive as a TMS amalgamates a plethora of technological innovations to provide an all-encompassing software solution.

1970s: the barcode breakthrough

Perhaps the first game-changer in inventory management emerged in the 1970s – the barcode. Conceived by Bernard Silver and Norman Joseph Woodland in 1948, the Universal Product Code (UPC) took nearly 30 years before being officially implemented in a retail environment. Since then, barcodes have become ubiquitous, appearing on everything from product labels to shipping manifests.

1980s: EDIFACT & ERP systems

The 1980s ushered in the era of electronic data interchange with the development of the UN/EDIFACT messaging protocol. This standardised framework, created by CEFACT, facilitated seamless communication between computer systems through structured messages. Concurrently, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems gained traction, offering comprehensive solutions for managing various business operations, including logistics and supply chain management.

1990s: the rise of transportation management systems

The proliferation of ERP systems in the 1990s laid the groundwork for specialised transportation management solutions. The introduction of the World Wide Web gave networks the ability to reach a global capacity – this led to an exponential growth in the footprint of supply chain management companies.

TMSs integrated with Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems improved communication with carriers and suppliers. EDI integration via professional services subsequently became a huge part of the TMS business and customisation.

2000s: cloud computing & the emergence of TrackTrans

The dawn of cloud computing in the 2000s revolutionised logistics management, offering unprecedented flexibility and scalability. Advancements in GPS technology also paved the way for real-time fleet tracking and management.

Against this backdrop, TrackTrans emerged as a solution catering to the evolving needs of the modern supply chain. Initially conceived in 2001 as a digital alternative to traditional office whiteboards, TrackTrans has evolved into a robust and highly customisable business management platform.

2010s: The era of cloud-based solutions

With the rising popularity of ecommerce ventures, businesses required a comprehensive omniscient view of their operation to ensure premium customer service within a highly competitive market. To cope with the increased demand for extensive supply chain solutions, the 2010s witnessed a surge in cloud-based technologies.

By the end of the decade, businesses of all sizes could now harness the operational power previously reserved for large-scale enterprises. Cloud-based software solutions give firms the ability to unlock enhanced visibility, saving costs whilst continuously improving overall efficiency.

Embracing the future

Years of innovation and development have led us to the transport management system of 2024 – epitomised by the current iteration of TrackTrans. With an integrated warehouse management system (WMS) and electronic proof of delivery (ePOD), our software solution gives businesses a thorough overview of the supply chain management process.

At TrackTrans, we always have our finger on the pulse and are constantly updating our software suite to ensure a contemporary experience for all users. Try our free demo and modernise your business today.

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