In today’s world, trade is more global than ever. Global transport of good is happening at a higher volume than ever by land, sea, and air, and conventional methods may not be enough to keep track of it all. As more companies operate globally, the need to track and quantify product rises. Those working under an inefficient logistics system could see some of their product lost in transit, either via theft or misplacement. Unexpected weather conditions could mean your semi-truck fleet gets stuck in one place, slowing the pace of your entire supply chain.
Now, companies can see information in real time to make the best decisions possible, resulting in less loss. That means money, time, and stress saved. A smart logistics system can help do exactly that.
Here, we’ll go over several real-world use cases and show how smart logistics systems can be employed in a wide array of different situations, and tell you how to take the next step should you be interested in setting up one of your own.
How Smart Logistics Can Help
Let’s take a look at how smart logistics can aid businesses in several different sectors, from long-haul trucking to air travel. For each area, we’ll break down the challenges faced, and look at the solutions gained through a smarter system.
Case 1: 3rd Party Logistics
Problem: Trucking companies leasing vehicles from another company, whether that be for less than load (LTL) shipments or full load shipments, face the challenge of not knowing where all their vehicles are at the same time. That can equate to imprecise delivery scheduling and loss of cargo due to theft. If that happens, the chain of custody-who had the load at what time-needs to be proven.
Solution: Smart logistics systems can track all cargo in transit at once, down to the physical environment inside the trucks. Vehicle speed, the frequency of stops, internal pressure and humidity, all of these factors and more are monitored and presented in a holistic picture of your cargo from end to end.
Case 2: Air Cargo
Problem: Air transport presents its own set of challenges. Tracking empty containers can be difficult, leading shipping companies to overstock goods, thereby losing money when they have to pay for the extra containers to hold it all. The inability to monitor their products during transport, inside their containers, can present another challenge if it interferes with a shipping company meeting their service level agreements (SLAs).
Solution: Outfitting containers with tracking devices as part of a smart logistics system can alleviate this problem. They would last for years, be ready to provide data wherever they were and make real-time shipment monitoring possible and allow finely detailed tracking of containers and supplies — saving both time and money on resource planning.
Case 3: Automotive
Problem: What if an automotive retailer needed to find a specific car, in a particular lot? How quickly could that happen? Tracking devices and smart logistics systems can provide real-time global location services, accurate down to fifteen feet (five meters).
Solution: Real-time delivery alerts, transporter geolocation, and live monitoring 24/7 mean you always know who has your inventory. That makes it easier to establish a chain of custody, and know exactly where something went wrong. Proof of delivery is also more straightforward, increasing the speed of both invoicing and payment.
Case 4: Chemical Manufacturing
Problem: The safety and security of dangerous chemicals and the people transporting them is vital. Smart logistics can provide updates on the interior and exterior conditions of a transport vehicle, with a constant stream of updates on conditions like light exposure, humidity, temperature, and pressure to make sure chemicals are being transported under safe conditions.
Solution: Real-time tracking can also be paired with environmental reports to minimize or prevent conditions that could lead to a dangerous accident or spill.
Case 5: Consumer Electronics
Problem: The consumer electronics industry faces long wait times and iffy delivery predictions due to product often being shipped from overseas. Companies also have to put up a large amount of money to ensure those goods during transit because they run a higher risk of being stolen. If that leads to a deficit of product in the store, that translates to lower sales.
Solution: Tracking devices like the Roambee can update shippers on a product’s location in real time, and track motion, light shocks, and movement. They can even be set up to detect tampering, helping prevent theft of goods in transit. That increased logistical knowledge allows for better prediction of delivery timeframes, lessening the need to take up space with emergency inventory.
Case 6: Consumer Goods
Problem: Not only electronics, but the consumer goods industry at large faces inventory fluctuations, imprecise delivery scheduling, and an inability to see the “big picture” of all goods in transport at once.
Solution: Smart logistics helps minimize the risk of theft, and narrow the scope of delivery windows here while maintaining a particular chain of custody.
Case 7: Food and Beverage
Problem: Monitoring inventory and delivering on schedule becomes even more critical in the food and beverage industry, where your goods can spoil if hung up for too long on the transport trail.
Solution: IoT devices can monitor the temperature and conditions inside a container moving perishables, and let you know exactly how much inventory is on the way to your restaurant or kitchen. If conditions during transport change and create a risk for spoilage or damage to perishable goods, you'll be notified immediately and can take steps to either mitigate food loss or fix the damage. Tracking your shipments also narrows the delivery window, cutting down on the need to order excess inventory that could also go bad.
Case 8: Railways
Problem: As with air transport or 3PL, leased containers moved across railways can be challenging to track.
Solution: Implementing smart logistics systems lets manufacturers and transporters monitor their goods from end to end, and take action to preserve their integrity should something go wrong. Predictive delivery timeframes allow railway companies to plan for delays and provide knowledge of transporters and their operating procedures across the industry. With this knowledge, delays become less likely, and plans can be more detailed. Railway companies will have increased visibility of their deliveries, including those made with leased vehicles or containers.
Case 9: Pharmaceutical and Biotech
Problem: Sensitive shipments of drugs are liable to spoilage if conditions change during transport without the shipper’s knowledge. They can also be damaged or stolen and, like consumer electronics, are costly to replace. Currently, there is no satisfactory solution for tracking pharmaceutical shipments globally in real time.
Solution: Smart systems can monitor physical conditions during transport, the same as with perishable goods, food and beverage shipments, or consumer goods. Global tracking enables the creation of a chain of custody more detailed than previously possible, helping to prevent theft and zero in on where it occurred. Should a robbery happen, smart logistics can provide law enforcement with valuable data on where the shipment was last located. Safeguards against tempering offer an extra layer of security, helping to prevent theft with alerts sent when an unauthorized person opens a package.
Case 10: Port and Airports
Problem: Shipping ports and major airports need to be able to locate their containers and assets quickly, on a global scale.
Solution: Smart logistics technology lets companies track where their product is, anywhere in the world, in real time. For airborne cargo, altitude and pressure can be monitored and the data watched in real time. Homing devices can be pinged at any time to let you know where your shipment is, whether it’s still on track, and what the physical conditions are inside the container. Geofences can be established, with alerts set if goods fall outside a specific predetermined area, and those alerts can go right to an employee’s mobile phone. These measures allow for pinpoint tracking, theft prevention, and the refinement of delivery schedules while cutting down on extraneous equipment.
Case 11: Postal Services
Problem: Postal service utilizes several forms of transport when delivering packages, and need a way to have a "big picture" view of everything at once. As parcels are handed from one delivery team to the next, keeping track of what everyone is doing becomes cumbersome.
Solution: Smart logistics can enable smoother transfer of packages between groups by keeping every package handler up to date on where their parcels are going and where they’ve been. Automatically updated information allows tracking of the exact location of trailers, monotainers, and transit containers. By monitoring how fast containers and vehicles travel, smart logistics gives postal services a comprehensive picture of just how efficient their routes are, and what can be done to make them better, taking the guesswork out of last-mile delivery.
How You Can Make Smart Logistics Part of Your Business
T Systems’ smart logistics solutions can bring asset monitoring on multiple levels to your shipping operation. Our systems offer the peace of mind that comes with enhanced security and an abundance of information on your vehicles, containers, and goods before they’re shipped, during transport, and on arrival. For an overview of how we approach smart logistics, and to purchase a system of your own, visit our website today.