The trend toward integration has been steadily accelerating over the years. It is driven by increasingly sophisticated ecosystems and business processes that are supported by complex interactions across multiple endpoints in custom software, in-house packaged applications and third-party services (cloud or otherwise).
The term API is often batted around in reference to integrated systems. What exactly are they – and how can they be applied to logistics?
What is API?
Application Programming Interface (API) in its simplest form is code that allows for two software programs to communicate with each other. APIs within a program are a set of standards which permit outside software systems to request information from the original program.
An application with no APIs is best described as a building with no doors. In this figurative context, an API is what would enable you to open the blinds and the doors to exchange information.
API use in logistics
API use has also increased within the transportation industry, bridging the information gap between shippers, carriers, brokers and software systems. APIs have several uses within the industry – some of the most prevalent uses include:
- Rating – sends quote request to multiple carriers and returns pricing results to requesting application
- Transit Times – retrieves standard transit times from multiple carriers
- Dispatch – sends carrier pick-up request and responds with pick-up confirmations
- Tracking – allows for track and trace information on shipments
- Document Retrieval – allows for developers to request shipping documents utilising a carrier’s tracking number
- Expedited Transit Time – allows for developers to get expedited transit times
API in TMS
No other piece of supply chain management technology has to communicate with as many different parties as a transport management system. Connectivity is therefore crucial to the success of the software.
A TMS has to deal with your enterprise resource planning (ERP), order management systems (OMS), warehouse management systems (WMS) and finance — plus all of your trading partners, vendors, customers, third-party logistics providers (3PLs), carriers and more. There are also third-party data sources to consider like tariffs, rates, distance and tracking.
APIs establish a direct connection between parties for an instant data exchange. For a TMS, this means managing freight while dealing with all of the other systems mentioned above.
The transport management systems of today have more connections than the incredibly expensive “Control Towers” of a mere decade ago. These also demanded extensive development and resources.
A TMS differs greatly from these Control Towers and instead serves as a “Rally Point” for combining different data sources, translating that data and then automating responses across vastly different data types while normalising it into one home for advanced analytics.
Managing your digital aspects is now a core part of your operations and the ability to communicate information accurately and instantly is essential. TrackTrans’ API integration and cloud-based technology provides users with a plethora of tools necessary for any haulage company.
It is transferable across any device, allowing for an easy user experience no matter what device the user is on. Because TrackTrans is a cloud-based API system, drivers are able to communicate with their dispatch team through the app itself, and will receive SMS notifications when the details of a shipment are changed. Drivers can also upload any important documents they collect along their trip and upload them to the cloud, further streamlining proof of delivery.
Try our free demo and get started with TrackTrans today!