What is a transportation management system?

March 24, 2019
by Katherine Hambrick


A Transportation Management System is a business software for anyone in the transportation logistics space. Also known as:

  • Car hauling software
  • Auto transport software
  • Car hauler automation software
  • Auto carrier software
  • Auto transport broker software
  • Auto transport technology

All of these names are essentially the same thing; technology to simplify moving freight. Transportation logistics, especially in car hauling, requires specialized technology to complete uniform legal paperwork.

For instance, in Car Hauling, every load requires a Bill of Lading for each car hauled. Without that legal paperwork, you can't move cars. It was easy (but slow) for people to just print PDF wireframes of cars and mark the damages on those Bills of Lading. The trucking industry kept doing that well into the smartphone era, because no one had created a software specialized enough.

The legal aspect of a BOL is not the only thing that is necessary for a transportation management system. And car hauling truckers aren't the only types of transportation companies that use TMS?.

Carriers, brokers, dealers and shippers [HYPERLINK TO UNDERSTANDING CAR HAULING PIECE] all have to use a transportation management system if they work significantly in freight logistics.

Because there are so many moving parts, a good TMS serves the needs of carriers, brokers and shippers. A good TMS talks between people on all ends. This means it needs load importing, dispatching, GPS tracking, photo inspections and invoicing/BOL capabilities.




More and more, loads are not paper. The biggest company that distributes loads is Central Dispatch [HYPERLINK] which is entirely online. Brokers have PDF dispatch sheets, dealers have special dispatch orders. A truly successful TMS has to be able to synthesize orders no matter when or how they come. These days, this is actually getting a lot easier because of advances in technology.


Dispatching is arguably the biggest benefit of a transportation management system, because it's ultimately what allows you to communicate the intricacies of your loads to your workers. Your system needs to be able to provide real time updates to drivers, including delivery changes, without relying on phone calls.


More and more, GPS tracking is an important feature of a TMS. Original Equipment Manufacturers require it for electronic proof of delivery. This is something that can't be done with a traditional business management software. In order to have GPS tracking, you must have a central TMS accessible by an owner or dispatcher that can track a driver in real time.


Especially for Fleets and Brokers, quick and uniform invoices are important for the car transport business. The larger your Fleet gets, or the more transporters you broker for, the harder it gets to keep information tidy. A great Transportation Management System creates automatic invoices for every load. A great TMS will also let you change the wireframe for your BOL, and have a short but comprehensive list of car damage codes.


Potentially, Brokers, Fllets and Owner Operators alike save the most money through photo inspection capabilities. A great Transportation Management System has the ability to take as many photos at inspection as necessary. With a great TMS you can also:

  • mark damages on the photos
  • attach photos to the BOL
  • time stamp photos
  • save photos in the cloud to review whenever necessary
  • suggest photo angles (all four sides, interior, etc.)
  • allow high resolution
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