Why Freight Management Software or TMS Needs Automated Polygon Geofencing

For shippers, the phrase “left sitting in the dark” can have both literal and figurative meanings. When a geofencing system isn’t performing its job well, drivers often sit in their trucks at night without accurate information regarding the exact delivery location. At the same time, those overseeing the transportation management system are left wondering whether the delivery arrived at the right place. It’s an age-old problem, and over the years, freight technology providers have tried many ways to solve this issue that can lead to excessive dwell time and other concerns. But with new automated polygon geofencing, shippers, brokers, and forwarders can significantly reduce those “sitting in the dark” moments and dwell time through improved visibility.

How Are Freight Management Systems Used Today?

Freight management systems (FMS) are software platforms that let users access tasks concerning the acquisition and handling of shipping services. They can facilitate decisions like carrier rates and scheduled pick-up and delivery times, as well as track freight movements. Let’s take a look at how shippers, forwarders, and brokers use FMS today:  


Shippers use FMS platforms to manage the planning, booking, optimization, and execution. These are typically the traditional transportation management systems, like MercuryGate, OracleTMS, and EmergeTMS.


Forwarders use FMS platforms and their real-time visibility offerings to manage freight and try to keep detention and demurrage costs in check. Leaving shipments sitting in a warehouse can be costly and take up space that could be used for other goods; a primary focus for a forwarder. Proper use of an FMS by a forwarder can also reduce the need for daily check calls. Those systems include platforms like Magaya and Cargowise.

Brokers and 3PLs

Like forwarders, brokers and third-party logistics (3PL) providers use technology platforms to help manage their shippers’ freight. McCleod, Turvo, Aljex, and Revenova are some of the platforms used.

The Value of Geofencing in TMS/FMS

It’s quite clear how important accuracy is to all three groups mentioned above. Without the detailed information that can be provided quickly by a TMS or FMS, then shippers, forwarders, and brokers would be struggling to keep up. Accurate information being delivered promptly makes sure shipments arrive on time, that there is someone ready for them and that the goods don’t sit around for too long. One technology that can help those systems continue to move forward is geofencing. Geofencing can help logistics companies and FMS/TMS platforms increase the accuracy of handling shipments and provide real-time alerts for their users. It can work to find where and how close a truck is to the exact drop-off point, when they got there, and how long they were there. Geofences can help notify on-site employees that a truck is approaching. With the accuracy that geofencing brings, companies can save time and money. However, those savings are drastically limited with traditional geofencing within modern TMS/FMS platforms.

Challenges with Traditional Geofencing by Freight Management Systems

Traditional geofencing has put freight management systems in the ballpark regarding location. But the old ways of geofencing cannot make that final step and help the shipper reach his exact seat. The different methods of traditional geofencing have flaws that keep them from being the ideal tool. Circular geofencing, which entails drawing a radius around a geographic location to try and identify where it is, is up to 80 percent inaccurate. Circular geofences are dependent on the size of the radius you are using. A too-large radius captures many features that are of no importance and can adversely affect analytics or automation that are dependent on those geofences; a radius that is too small can miss a particular area that is important to your delivery.

Another option is polygon geofencing , which allows you to manually map out a precise area of interest defined by the specified features. It can provide a more accurate way to pinpoint locations, but it does have some challenges. Manually drawn polygons still involve the risk for human error and take a great deal of time away from other roles staff members could be performing. It is also an expensive process. Also, not being able to use polygon geofencing at scale, due to simple physical and timing restraints from manual processes, within the freight management system can be a concern.

So with the poor coverage areas of circle geofencing and the costly process of manually drawn polygons that can be littered with human error, both systems are shown to have major drawbacks. But with automated polygon geofencing, you can have the best of both worlds — a much greater accuracy that comes with a less expensive price tag.

Reasons Why FMS Should Use Automated Polygon Geofencing

Automated polygon geofencing, with a partner like Kestrel Insights, is the newest path freight and logistics professionals can take to reach a location more accurately and efficiently, reduce dwell time, and keep up with everything in real time. Here are a host of reasons that a partnership with automated polygon geofencing is the way to go:

  1. Companies can reduce empty miles by getting trailers back in the rotation faster because there are no delays in locating where shipments need to be made and picked up. This translates to more revenue by getting assets back into rotation
  2. The reduction of empty miles also means a reduction in emissions and enhances a company’s sustainability efforts.
  3. Trailer assets can be utilized better by immediately getting them back in rotation once they’ve verified gate in and gate out, i.e., a delivery confirmation. Less turnaround time frees the trailer for reuse with another load. Also, turning over chassis faster at drop-offs means there will be less of a likelihood of dealing with a shortage of equipment.
  4. The precision of knowing when a container gets into port and when it is ready to be moved to reduce detention and demurrage fees.
  5. With a much smoother and faster system, there are easier ways to coordinate your customers’ freight moves for appointments scheduled for pickup. With automated polygon geofencing, alerts get sent that the carrier has entered the yard, so the customer is prepared for the arrival and ready to load. Accurately knowing when and where a shipment turnaround will make it easier to schedule the next load for pickup.
  6. You can  stay more on top of exceptions and deviations by always knowing of any delays, as you’ve not received a notification that the truck has entered the yard or is late departing.
  7. Being able to supply more precise information will impress clients and make you a broker or shipper of choice with carriers.
  8. You won’t have to waste the time of any parties involved because the system swiftly alerts all on-site staff when a truck is approaching. Clearing resources and docks before the truck arrives allows you to manage everyone’s time effectively.
  9. Geofences can replace timecards because automatic reporting with geofences means you can track employees as they enter and leave a worksite. There is less room for human error or deception.
  10. By geofencing something as simple as a truck route, it allows you to receive notifications if the driver deviates from the planned path, which could indicate a delay in delivery time.
  11. The more precise data from polygon geofencing can optimize your carrier network by getting the analytics for on-time performance. Also, other carrier performance metrics are more accurate. With an application programming interface (API) acting as an intermediary between systems throughout the network, this up-to-the-minute, detailed data provided by geofencing can make the exchange of information go much faster.

Real-World Use Case of the Power of APIs, Interoperability & Precise Visibility from Polygon Geofencing

To prove how effective the APIs and interoperability and precise visibility of automated polygon geofencing can be, here’s a use case from the real world:

Imagine a shipment coming in that needs to be refrigerated. The truck enters a geofenced area, alerting the warehouse that it’s on the way. It can also automatically share the details of its shipment and the current temperature inside the truck. Shippers, brokers, and forwarders can use that information to route the truck to the correct dock, adjust the temperature inside the local storage unit, and alert the right number of employees to go to the dock for unloading. While the truck is on-site, you can track the driver’s dwell time and get alerts if they leave the warehouse. Once everything is unloaded, warehouse data analysis helps find a new shipment that matches the requirements of the truck and its planned route. All of this could happen within the TMS, using automated rules.

In this use case, two visibility technologies — automated polygon geofencing and a temp logger/tracker — come together to provide more power to the TMS by integrating the data from both into the TMS and helping manage shipping more effectively.

With Kestrel’s Data, You Can Build Better Geofences to Contain Inefficiency

With the shipping world ever expanding, the need to be more efficient and on time has also increased. Geofencing is one of the ways to help with those concerns, and automated polygon geofencing has raised the standard of preciseness and reduced dwell time. The data lake that Kestrel Insights has amassed takes geofencing to the next level. If your freight management software or TMS needs upgrading, don’t be afraid to take the geofencing leap with us. Get your geofence efficiency score today, and let Kestrel Insights help you be in the right place at the right time.