A strategic alliance between Trimble Navigation Limited and 3GTMS Inc. will help TMW customers manage complex 3PL challenges.

Trimble Navigation Limited, Sunnyvale, Calif., made an equity investment in shipping management software provider 3GTMS Inc., Shelton, Conn., the two companies announced Tuesday.

Under the agreement, Trimble’s TMW Systems gains a commercial reseller agreement to market 3GTMS’ 3G-TM planning and shipping management software along with TMW’s current transportation management offerings.

“What we found in 3GTMS is groundbreaking technology and capability,” David Wangler, president of TMW Systems said during a phone interview following the announcement. “We’ve been successful in the asset-based world, but this allows us to add a different capability in a different domain.”

3G-TM helps shippers and other non-asset-based entities make complex decisions on the most efficient and cost-effective way to move loads, either via truck, rail or a combination.

“Our customers include quite a few shippers, quite a few third-party logistic providers and some brokers,” said Mitch Weseley, founder and CEO, 3GTMS. He added that typically when working with brokers, “we are looking at brokers who blur the line between a 3PL and a broker. They deal with things that are more complicated.”

The company’s shipping management software features a proprietary planning and execution algorithm that allows for real-time changes in customer orders or shipments. It also includes rating capabilities that allow for better carrier negotiations and pricing flexibility, the company said.

TMW’s product offerings have focused on the asset-based, carrier side of the transportation space. However, Wangler noted that with the current capacity issues a number of carriers have been acting like 3PLs, helping their customers find efficient ways to move their freight – how much should go on rail, how much on truck, for instance. The technology from 3Gtms can help these fleets, he said, because “here’s a group that really understands how to start at the load level and then make a mode decision. This is hard problem to solve and these guys have a track record."

Trimble’s investment gives it a minority ownership stake in 3GTMS. While the alliance calls for Trimble to gain representation on 3GTMS’s board of directors, there will be no change in control of 3GTMS. It remains a separate company with no changes in leadership or operations, the companies said.

The 3G-TM planning and shipping software is available as a module within TMW’s trucking management software, Wangler said. “We’ve integrated the product with TMW Suite and it is available today” for the most recent versions of TMW Suite.