The Role of TMS in a Logistics Partner’s Strategy and Value Proposition

What do shipper’s look for in a logistics partner? Operational excellence, of course. But beyond that, shippers today also expect their logistics partners to provide them with technology solutions, timely and accurate data, and business intelligence and analytics capabilities. What factors are driving these expectations? How are logistics service providers responding? What capabilities are most important, especially from a transportation management system? Those are some of the questions I discussed with Sonny Catlett, Sr. Vice President of Operations at HNRY Logistics, in a recent episode of Talking Logistics.

Creating HNRY Logistics

Since many of our readers may not yet be familiar with HNRY (pronounced Henry) Logistics, I began our discussion by asking Sonny to tell us about this new division of YRC Worldwide. He explained that HNRY Logistics was formed in December of 2018 to blend the assets of the YRC fleet with their tech stack and non-asset-based services.

“At YRC, we look at everything from the customers’ point of view,” says Sonny. “The logistics industry has grown so complex, with so many challenges such as regulatory changes, capacity issues, pricing fluctuations, and worsening weather events, that customers are looking for a one-stop shop, backed by assets and technology, to help them navigate the current shipping environment. We also saw our competitors getting into the asset-light, hybrid model and we knew we had the experience and people in-house to build out this model internally.”

TMS enabling technology

To delve deeper into the technology aspect, I asked Sonny what they were looking for in a TMS platform. He noted that HNRY Logistics looks at technology from two sides — the frontend customer-facing application and the backend brokerage application.

“We built what we call My HNRY TMS, which is a web-based platform that blends all of our asset carriers with our non-asset solutions,” says Sonny. “This allows customers to go to one place to purchase any of our services. We also have what we call CAMP (Corporate Account Management) HNRY, which is a dual CRM/productivity model that we think is unique in the industry. It provides us and our customers joint access to case management data and business intelligence tools so we can collaborate to make sure things get across the finish line.”

Sonny further commented that the backend TMS software is the backbone of everything they do. “We looked around at the various broker TMS packages out there and ultimately selected 3Gtms,” says Sonny. “It allowed us to be a big fish in a little pond. They were very flexible and agile in helping us to build the solution out.

“A key feature was their robust rating engine,” continues Sonny. “With us running five lines of service through our brokerage, we had to have a rating engine that enables us to present the best rates back to customers through our My HNRY portal. It also allows us to handle our separate ‘big and bulky’ final mile business.”

When I asked Sonny about the build vs. buy decision, he explained that they did both. They built the frontend customer-facing system themselves, but chose to buy the backend TMS that enabled them to be faster to market, yet was agile and supported by a vendor that was willing to partner with them.

The benefits

So, what have been some of the benefits achieved to date? Sonny notes that a key benefit for them was the ability to access the robust 3Gtms rating engine through an active API model to display rates to customers in their My HNRY portal for all of their asset-based and non-asset-based services — the one-stop shop concept.

Sonny also had some really interesting comments about how e-commerce is impacting their business, especially their big and bulky final mile segment, as well as a number of great insights into how technology and getting the right people play critical roles in logistics success. I encourage you to watch the full episode for all the details and highlights.