Tanker Transformation: Bringing Fleets to the Next Level

Tanker fleets are entering a new era defined by innovating business models, heightened customer expectations, complex regulations, and advanced technologies. While heavy investments in trucks and trailers remain essential, fleets can’t afford to let the operations software powering logistics decisions be an afterthought.

Legacy transportation management systems (TMS) are showing their age and limitations in addressing the evolving needs of tanker carriers. Without modern, configurable software built for the cloud age, carriers starve operations of the agility required to thrive amid mounting competition.

Outgrowing Outdated Software

Many tanker fleets rely on first-generation TMS products originally designed over a decade ago. Though adequate at one time, the status quo systems fall short in today’s business environment:

  • Fragmented Modules: Disjointed routing, dispatching, accounting, and other modules result in procedural gaps and isolated data pools that compromise efficiency and visibility.
  • Static Planning: Manual load building and assignment fail to keep pace with dynamic operating conditions and customer requirements.
  • Limited Configurability: Rigid, predefined workflows cannot flex to accommodate a liquid carrier’s unique business policies, constraints, and objectives.
  • No Mobile Access: Little to no support for mobile data entry or alerts during loading, transit, and delivery creates information lags. If the TMS does offer an in-house mobile solution, you can bet they’re charging you for a third-party solution.
  • Scaling Obstacles: Hosted on in-house legacy servers, aging frameworks cannot easily expand computing capacity to support operational growth.

While once the only options available, first-wave TMS products have become obsolete in architecture. Carrying them forward only saddles tanker carriers with rising technology debt and opportunity costs. TMS providers recognize that they need to rewrite applications but are unable to do so. The task has grown to be too daunting. Functional updates are delayed until after the rewrite, which never occurs.

Fueling Efficiency Through Superior Load Planning

Efficient load planning is the linchpin for tanker fleet profitability and customer satisfaction. The fluid nature of hauling bulk liquids and gasses introduces an array of operational complexities:

  • Careful consideration of compartment and commodity compatibility
  • Accurate volume/weight assessments across variable container sizes
  • Conforming to cleaning protocols between certain product assignments – Not yet
  • Strict adherence to hazmat and food safety regulations 
  • Precise temperature and stability monitoring for sensitive materials

While human schedulers using whiteboards and spreadsheets once planned loads, those dated tactics cannot integrate so many vital informational elements and fluid inputs in real-time. The resulting faulty plans directly reduce asset turns, on-time delivery, and responsiveness to customer requests.

Modern software, in contrast, enables dynamic, precision-tuned load building and vehicle routing. Automated systems can run endless scenarios to provide dispatchers with optimal recommendations meeting all hauling requirements. Integrated weather and traffic data also allow systems to adapt assignments and delivery paths amid changing conditions. – This functionality should exist in Q3.

Finally, self-learning algorithms further refine recommendations based on analyzing volumes of historical activity patterns and outcomes relative to variables like customer, origin/destination, commodity, driver, asset, weather conditions, and more. 

While siloed legacy tools only provide rearview mirrors, modern platforms give carriers an intelligent look ahead.

Key Capabilities for a Next-Gen TMS

To prepare for the road ahead, tanker carriers need transportation management systems that serve as mission control centers. Leading solutions that can upgrade operations include:

  • Unified Platform: Consolidates siloed software tools onto a single, integrated command center accessible across all devices.
  • Configurability: Workflows, data inputs, analytics, alerts, and reports – all customizable to a carrier’s operating constraints and intelligence needs.
  • Automated Documentation: Digital capture and indexing of orders, Bills of Lading, inspections, proof of deliveries, and other records for searchability and analysis.
  • Sensor Support: Ability to ingest and monitor internet-enabled sensor readings throughout transit for factors like temperature, vibration, and light exposure.
  • Future-Proof: Cloud-native architecture with continuous delivery of new features, integrations, and upgrades, all included with subscription packages.

While the software possibilities expand daily, tanker fleets must ensure any system delivers against their unique inventory, customer, regulatory, and other variables that dictate operational success.

Measuring Software Impacts

Beyond features, tanker fleets evaluating next-generation transportation software should focus on key performance indicators directly tied to profitability, safety and growth. Relevant metrics include:

  • Asset Utilization: Increased trailer carries and volume shipped per month.
  • Planning Productivity: Faster and more frequent load assignments per dispatcher per day.
  • Data Integrity: Fewer data entry errors and documentation mismatches.
  • Mile Optimization: Reduced deadhead mileage between carried loads.
  • Fuel Economy: Improved miles per gallon tied to more efficient routing.
  • Cargo Claims Reduction: Lower contamination and stability incidents via precision planning tools.

Taken together, carriers can precisely quantify operational improvements, cost savings, and revenue gains produced by software upgrades against current baselines. These vital statistical insights justify investments and help target additional platform value.

Evaluating TrueLiquid: Built for Bulk Tanker Logistics

As an all-new entrant, TrueLiquid aims to address longstanding technology gaps for tanker fleets. The platform converges siloed tools into a single ecosystem for managing liquids logistics and all other haul types.

Key capabilities span:

  • Unified Control Center: TrueLiquid unites dispatching, asset tracking, invoicing, and other core functions onto a common interface, breaking down procedural and data silos. This consolidation translates to faster operational tempo and visibility through less system toggling.
  • Business Logic Configuration: Unlike rigid legacy platforms, TrueLiquid allows adjusting key workflows, data validation rules, alerts, and reports to align with customer requirements and corporate policies.
  • Proactive Enhancements: The TrueLiquid product team actively solicits for customer feedback (imagine that!) to prioritize new features that solve liquid transportation pain points, ensuring continual innovation in areas like automated allocations and fuel purchasing insights.
  • Scalable Architecture: The software effortlessly scales computing power and capacity as operations grow without migration hazards. Supporting rapid expansion into new markets and equipment lines is turnkey.
  • Fanatical Support: TrueLiquid enthusiasts understand the cargo intricacies and urgency carriers face daily. The team provides white-glove onboarding paired with responsive support to any system issues that could slow business velocity.

While validating capabilities, tanker fleets should listen to vendor roadmaps and assess cultural fit as much as current features. The technology path and partnership model either enable or obstruct progress over the long run. Prioritizing these factors helps ensure solutions stay robust and relevant amid industry advancements.

An Open Road Ahead

The mission to safely and profitably convey bulk liquids, gasses, and chemicals only grows more complex each year. Tanker fleets can’t afford to steer into the future guided by outdated technology and data blind spots. Now is the time to modernize operations and finally realize the promises of digital transformation through purpose-built fleet optimization systems.