Our product team explains how Slot Booking is getting Smarter

Ashton Goonting, product manager at Alpega explains how Transwide took its slot booking software to the next level

A Transport Management System (TMS) is designed to help organisations digitalise their transport process. Typically that means taking manual, ad-hoc and disorganised processes and streamlining them into a more manageable set of work flows. This in turn makes it possible to collect data, analyse current systems and optimise based on the opportunities uncovered. 

For many shippers a key focus of this process is slot booking. There are a few reasons for this, the most obvious being cost. Downtime on a loading bay is expensive and no one wants to have drivers waiting around for a slot to load or unload their products. Factor in the time sensitivity around certain deliveries and it becomes apparent just how vital slot planning is. 

I’m sure none of this is news to you and it certainly isn’t to the Transwide team. We have decades of experience working with shippers and carriers and our Slot Booking solution was created to tackle precisely these issues. Feedback on that tool has been great. We’ve worked hand in hand with shippers and carriers to design it and our latest customer survey highlights its efficiency, user-friendliness and positive impact for daily chores.

But to stay the best, you’ve got to keep moving and that’s why our product team has spent the past years working on Smart Booking.

Real-time visibility, the latest technology and better UI

Despite the positive feedback we continue to receive on Slot Booking, there’s no hiding that we’re reaching the limits of what we can achieve on that platform. We were also keen to start afresh and really think outside of the box. That’s why we’ve been working with shippers, carriers and industry experts on our new Smart Booking solution.

What’s so special about it? Well we worked with a group of 50 shippers and carriers to determine what their greatest pain points were and what technology we could get our hands on to solve them. Together we reworked what a slot booking platform should and can be.

Some of the features we developed include real-time warehouse visibility (you won’t have to refresh your screen to get status updates) and an overhauled user interface, designed to make everything as easy and customisable as possible. It’s built on API-driven architecture, which means it can do things like calculate the length of a time slot based on the amount and type of product and we’re also implementing industry specific features.

How we designed Smart Booking

User-centred design is a based on gaining a deep understanding of your users. It’s a practice that is common in many of your favourite B2C websites and applications, but not so much in the world of B2B and even less so when it comes to the transport industry. You can sum up the philosophy behind this approach by saying every design and technology choice is made based on the user’s needs. That’s the approach we took to building Smart Booking.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the things we did:

  • We interviewed shippers and carriers and listed their main pain points and challenges
  • We ran workshops with groups of shippers and carriers and learnt how they envisioned the perfect Smart Booking solution
  • We looked at how users were using our Slot Booking tool, found common patterns and investigated areas for improvement
  • We looked at the other solutions on the market and analysed their pros and cons  
  • We also have a healthy database of customer requests and support queries, which we factored into the process

Our findings were validated with a group of shippers and carriers along each step of the process and I’m happy to tell you that Smart Booking is currently being piloted. 

It’s been a long journey to get where we are and there’s plenty more work to be done – Smart Booking will continue to evolve based on your needs – but I’m very proud of the team and everything we’ve achieved so far. I can’t wait to show you more soon – watch this space!

The latest insights from the world of transport, logistics and supply chain from our team of in-house experts


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