Following the reintroduction of the TruckStops vehicle routing and scheduling optimization system by MapMechanics to the North American market this year, Next Generation Logistics, Inc., a leading supply chain consultancy and TMS software developer based in Chicago, has reaffirmed the essential role of TruckStops in its own product suite.
TruckStops is one of the world’s longest-established and most widely used routing and scheduling applications, and is used worldwide for planning anything from food and drink deliveries to cost-effective movement of live plants and waste oil collection.
NGL was one of the earliest users of TruckStops when the solution was first released in North America more than twenty-five years ago, and became a TruckStops reseller; so when long-standing TruckStops supplier MapMechanics took full responsibility for the product, NGL was keen to maintain continuity of supply, and looked to MapMechanics for reassurance.
"We’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the energetic support that MapMechanics has given to the product," says NGL vice-president John Riske. "The MapMechanics team have demonstrated that they are committed to investing in developing the product and supporting customers, and their approach has given us the confidence to retain it as a core element in our product suite."
Next Generation Logistics offers a range of transportation management solutions to shippers. It can provide a flexible range of managed freight services, including strategic and operational support; and it can also supply its own free-standing suite of cloud-hosted or on-premise transportation management software, including its widely-used FreightMaster TMS. The TruckStops scheduling solution has proven to work effectively in both scenarios.
NGL also offers supply chain consultancy services that range from network optimization using OptiSite, inbound freight supplier evaluation, and analytics to full implementation support and ongoing management and monitoring.
Part of the appeal of TruckStops, explains John Riske, is that it is unusually effective in optimizing deliveries by external trucking companies, as well as planning journeys by the operator’s own vehicle fleet.
The task of planning deliveries by motor carriers requires a very different approach from that of scheduling the shipper’s own vehicles, he points out. There will usually be no requirement to bring the vehicles back to base at the end of their journeys, or arrange for them to finish at any specific location – both of which tend to be priorities in conventional scheduling systems.
"A lot of our clients handle their shipments in two ways. They dispatch some product through common carriers, and deliver the rest with their own truck fleet. TruckStops ensures that they can schedule both types of shipment as economically as possible."
TruckStops also offers another kind of flexibility, John Riske explains. "We have embedded TruckStops fully within our product. The TruckStops routing engine generates the same efficient schedules as the standard version, but the user can access it seamlessly through the FreightMaster TMS interface."
However, where the shipper is not processing all its deliveries with FreightMaster TMS, TruckStops is available as a free-standing product, which can be supplied with or without ancillary services and consultancy, depending on the client’s needs.
"Whatever angle our users approach us from, we can supply a TruckStops solution to suit them," John Riske says.
NGL builds its software on the Microsoft platform, and is a Microsoft ISV Partner, providing transportation management and fleet routing functionality to support the Dynamics ERP community. For existing Dynamics ERP users, the company brands its transportation software suite as Dynamics TMS®. TruckStops provides the scheduling optimization capability in all versions.
MapMechanics, a UK-based company, has supplied and supported TruckStops around the world for 20 years, and two years ago acquired full rights to the source code from the original developer, MicroAnalytics. This year the product was re-introduced in North America, where MapMechanics has established a new presence. John Riske sums up: "We’re delighted that TruckStops is back, and we’re enjoying the enthusiasm and knowledge of the MapMechanics team."
MapMechanics’ founder and director Mary Short adds: "Next Generation Logistics has played a key role in the unfolding story of TruckStops over the years, and we’re very pleased to have renewed and strengthened the link between our companies."