TMW – Heavyweight in transport software solutions

11 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMay 2, 2018

TMW Systems is part of the larger Trimble Transport & Logistics group and has been providing industry-leading software to the transport industry since 1983.

More than 2000 transport companies use TMW Systems products globally, and they entered the New Zealand market in 2013. Notable customers here include Linfox and Hall‘s Group, and in Australia Lindsay Australia, Ron Finemore Transport, and Followmont Transport.

TMW‘s regional sales manager for Australasia Mike Maddocks said TMW has experienced very strong growth in the Australasian market over the past few years.

“Our major offering is TruckMate, a TMS (transport management system) that originated in Vancouver, Canada, which was created by my father, Bob Maddocks and acquired by TMW in 2006,” Mike says.

TruckMate has a number of tools, such as ConnectedDock for pallet scanning on and off the trucks; D2Link: a mobility app for drivers; and Command Center.  Command Center is a real-time KPI dashboard for all users that launches directly from your desktop or operations screens, pulling daily and historical information entered by staff, including dispatching, billing, customer service and accounting.

Mike says TruckMate‘s tools are what sets TMW apart.

“TruckMate is an end-to-end ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system complete with connective integrated capabilities such as accounting. What really makes it stand out is the end-to-end visibility that we have with the product,” Mike says. “That is something I haven‘t seen much of from our competition, the ability for you to enter an order into one location, maybe at the point of pick up, and no matter how many days or what modes of transport it takes to get to the final destination, the final delivery leg already has visibility of that the moment the order is entered into the system.”

Mike says other key offerings include Synergize Document Management, TMT Fleet Maintenance, DirectRoute Optimisation, and Reveal Business Intelligence.

Mike says the New Zealand market has always been an attractive market to technology developers because it tends to lead in that field, unafraid to take the risks in certain areas.

“At Trimble, we always look to acquire companies that are leading in innovation and technology regardless of what region they are based in, and a lot of those companies have come from New Zealand. Battling that localisation issue has always been a challenge for any company entering a new market, so acquiring a company that‘s already entered the trenches, so to speak, is definitely a good strategy.”

Mike joined TMW four years after they bought TruckMate from his father.

“Unfortunately, I didn‘t get to spend a lot of time working with my father in the business, although that probably had its benefits! Originally our support office was based out of Vancouver and I started working in the support department, then moved into a technical sales role, then progressed through the company up to the point where we expanded into Australia and New Zealand when we added Linfox as a customer back in 2013.”

Mike has been based in Melbourne since 2014 and he looks after Asia Pacific from a growth and sales perspective for the company, managing Australia and New Zealand as well as other nearby regions in Asia Pacific.

“I think the needs of transport companies are relatively similar from country to country, although there are obviously nuances within the New Zealand market that make it special,” he says.  “I think a lot of those have been covered well, like managing road user charges, for example.”

Mike says transport companies within New Zealand are primarily moving freight from A to B.  The biggest challenge here, however, is that it‘s not just running freight through a depot network, it also involves taking the freight from the ports or the rail line to the final transport destination, often across Cook Strait.

“Longer distances aren‘t necessarily the issue, it‘s the logistical standpoint of moving it across multiple modes of transport with all the different subcontractors and relationships,” he explains.

“We‘re also a leader in innovation within the industry, so we‘ve got tools for pallet management and reconciliation, which is a very big issue here in New Zealand and Australia. We have tools for pallet scanning, for unloading and loading them in high capacity on and off the truck, as well as a series of mobile applications to serve both the dispatcher and the driver, and the workshop, too.”

One of TMW‘s most important efforts is the introduction of Blockchain technology not only to improve its solutions, but also to lead the proliferation of Blockchain in the transportation industry.

Essentially, Blockchain is an asset ledger that keeps a record of all transactions electronically. It‘s designed to allow peer-to-peer transactions in a highly secure environment using Smart Contracts. The electronic proof of Blockchain allows for major benefits within the industry such as immediate payment for carriers, more visibility surrounding claims, or increased collaboration through the tender process.

“So, when you start dealing with the transportation industry where there‘s a high volume of transactions, it‘s a perfect fit for Blockchain technology.”

Mike says TMW sees this technology as one of the key touch points over the next five to 10 years.

“A large portion of our fiscal budget is spent on research and development, because as one of the leaders in innovation in transportation, we have to invest in developing new technologies and applications,” he says.

For example, Trimble was one of the innovators of autonomous farm equipment. Mike says bringing autonomous equipment outside of the agriculture, mining and forestry sectors into transportation is something they are looking into and working to be a leader in that space as well.

“I would suggest that New Zealand is one of the leaders in the global market for taking on new technology. I don‘t know if that comes down to being a smaller, nimbler market or having an ability to be dynamic within the industry. I don‘t know, maybe it‘s just the kiwi way – developing new technology.”

While Mike could not speak publicly about TMW‘s and Trimble‘s future plans, he did say they were always pushing the envelope for innovation within the transport industry.

“What we currently have is a comprehensive solution set for transportation that is not just limited to despatching and a TMS, but offers a full suite of solutions that includes full route optimisation, full document management, all with key business intelligence reporting capabilities.”

Mike says TMW doesn‘t just focus on one mode of transport, they service all types of companies – those doing small metro pick-up and delivery, container freight, bulk freight, and the standard transport and logistics side as well.

“We don‘t just focus on one area of transport, we service all of the industry. And I think that really stems from the maturity of the products we have, and one of the reasons for that is because we have more than 2000 customers globally. Every time we‘ve done a custom development enhancement to the product, we have then rolled that functionality back into the base product for the next major release, so companies signing on with the TruckMate system today are basically benefitting from all of the work that all of our previous customers have done.”

Mike says every market has something that makes it unique in the way that it handles transport.

“Certainly, with the sheer number of customers that we have, we rarely need to customise the product any more; instead we simply configure it. And I guess that works really well with the New Zealand market because everybody does a little bit of everything because they kind of have to in transport here.”