Adding Proof of Delivery Capabilities to Your TMS

February 20, 2023


5 minutes

No matter how you look at it, delivery operations are tough. The final leg of a shipment often involves multiple stops, exacting requirements, and an ever-building number of failure points that’ll throw off the whole day. This doesn’t include the challenges of resource planning, scaling operations, and handling delays & customer service issues. While we’d like to think the Transportation Management Systems (TMS) can keep up, it just won’t give you the full visibility–and control–you need to manage effective operations.

The TMS is great for running the core of your operations. Still, it falls short of giving you full visibility into everything happening on the road, at each stop, greatly limiting your abilities to expand operations.

Integrating an electronic proof of delivery (E-POD) system into your TMS might seem like a big IT undertaking, but it can be quite a painless process. Any TMS providing real-time data access (think APIs) or even a semi-real-time data feed (think generating CSV files into an FTP location) can provide an access point into load details for E-POD enrichment. Much of this work is done outside the TMS, preventing operational disruption and allowing for slow testing before a larger rollout.

The impact of adding an E-POD system is near immediate. Extending the TMS data with an E-POD system helps boost visibility, improves daily collaboration, and bolsters the documentation process. Not only will this improve your tracking and visibility–not just dots on a map–but understanding the true status of a load. It also unlocks a load of operational efficiencies. Your planning, quality, and service processes will all unlock a new level of understanding.


Electronic Proof of Delivery (E-POD)

A digital method to establish that the recipient received contents from a sender–often via a third-party intermediary such as a delivery driver. Much like traditional POD methods, E-POD is a proverbial handshake that an exchange has occurred. Examples include acceptance signatures, barcode scans, and photographic evidence verifying that the product was delivered to the recipient.

Tracking and Visibility

We don’t need to explain how a standard TMS plays a critical role in running your operations — seeing job pick-up/drop-off details, assigning a driver, times, etc. But with all the TMS and ELD (electronic logging device) tracking in the truck, something gets lost in the mix. While these systems are great with black-and-white data capture (and putting dots on a map), the color around late loads, loads shifts in transit, or the details around that one demanding drop customer (everyone seems to dread). E-POD unlocks critical enhancements to give you the color your TMS/ELD combo wasn’t built to handle.

Real-time operational visibilityBy extending your TMS data into a real-time E-POD system, you can track every stage of the delivery. E-POD integrations let you keep your TMS/ELD set up and follow your entire chain of custody in a centralized place.

These solutions provide real-time data feeds to help you make immediate decisions regarding available resources. Understand your current capacity, track supply/asset returns, and monitor loads through the entire lifecycle. 

By capturing E-POD data, you can understand current (and at risk) delivery times, locations (relative to the customer and load size), and overall job status. 

As customers mandate better visibility into the load ETA, delivery quality (aka getting eyes on the load before it’s accepted), and ensuring a proper chain of custody, E-POD demands will only rise.

For example, our own Coolfire Core product helps a life science courier customer capture real-time temperature readings for their vaccine trials. Since the customer mandates a specific temp range for the load to be accepted (and safe for the patient!), the courier service must monitor and document the load at all times. 

Another Coolfire customer noticed a measurable decrease in ‘damaged goods’ reports when the load recipient after they implemented an E-POD strategy. When the driver started requiring e-signatures AND capturing pictures of the product in the cooler, the recipient started having fewer complaints (and less of a leg to stand on). These seemingly simple steps helped them push out a large number of refunds and re-deliveries (aka suspected fraud).

Operational Efficiency

With E-POD integrations, like Coolfire Core, you can achieve operational efficiencies for deliveries – tailored to your customer’s unique requirements/mandates. By capturing more data, you’ll have the option to enforce operational controls and create instant exceptions as needed. Improve on-the-fly decision-making (as more data will give you more insight into what’s happening).

As you understand the nuances of your operations, you can confidently start adding more volume. As you onboard drivers, you can start using best practices–and use tech to enforce them. Add tools like geofencing to alert you or your customer when a truck is nearby, add enforceable workflow triggers to route E-POD data to the best back office team to accelerate the billing/payment processes, and arm your customer service team with a complete picture of the current state of a load.

After you’ve collected data for a few weeks, you’ll start seeing trends in the data. Leveraging a business intelligence (BI) tool helps to chart out route and driver performance trends. Understanding patterns in the data will help you make better planning decisions and resource allocation. At this point, you are optimizing your operations and considering expanding your resource pool.

Leveraging external drivers

One of the biggest advantages of E-POD systems is the ability to monitor the quality and accuracy of drives. Since you can see and understand how things are going on every drive, you aren’t limited to just your pool of employee drivers to handle loads. With a system like Share Links, you can easily extend jobs to third-party drivers and partners. Share Links helps you share job details with anyone outside your organization — including job pick-up/drop-off details as well as any E-POD requirements.

Your E-POD system enforces the customer requirements by providing any document capture, e-signature, or picture details they need for a successful drive. Once the contract driver submits a completed route with all the appropriate POD details, you can route the job to your back office for payment. Share Links helps you assign jobs to any courier service provider, and the E-POD system ensures the job gets done right and on time — all in a controlled way.

For instance, if you need a contract driver to do a job, you can simply create a task, add instructions, and assign it to them. The driver can easily capture job details and delivery pictures without logging in or downloading an app. The Share Link interface allows them to scan or upload photos, documents, paperwork, checklists, and QR or barcodes. You can even use Share Links to update your customer on what’s been done by sharing job details in a read-only link or requesting additional input.

The best part is any communication captured while en route gets captured within the context of a work order or delivery. What’s captured by the driver is reflected in a central location for the internal team to review and share with their customers as they see fit. By extending your TMS data with Coolfire Core, everyone will operate from a single source of truth without a need to rip and replace your TMS.

Get more out of your TMS data with Coolfire Core

You can extend your existing TMS and ELD system data with an out-of-the-box E-POD integration. This extension helps you avoid costly re-platforming (dollars and time). Coolfire Core takes data from your current systems, organizes it for your driver operations team, and then communicates updates to the systems of record. This automation helps you accelerate decision-making and achieve real-time operational efficiencies.

By layering Coolfire Core on top of your operations, you can make proof of delivery capture a breeze while fortifying your business against market disruptions. Learn more and get started with Coolfir Core for free.

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