Fleet Tracking Benefits for Your Supply Chain
Efficient supply chains rely on effectively tracking raw materials, products, fleets, and shipments, wherever they might be. Exploring the different technologies that can be used to monitor and measure the movement and storage of goods is especially important as the IoT (Internet of Things) transforms the supply chain.
Installing fleet vehicle tracking technology can dramatically improve supply chain visibility. Fleet managers improve operational efficiency and productivity, leading to cost savings and increased customer satisfaction.
Fleet Tracking Benefits
Tracking technology allows companies to understand precisely where goods are in the supply chain at any given moment. This allows a more accurate, up-to-date handoff of goods between supply chain partners.
- Supply chain performance optimization requires information – the more data, and the more in-depth that data is, the better.
- Manufacturers, logistics providers, and others will know when goods arrive, simplifying the process of planning production and shipping schedules.
- Security is enhanced because you know where your goods are at every step along the way, reducing the risk of theft or loss.
- Delays and bottlenecks in the supply chain can be readily identified and resolved more efficiently and quickly.
- Optimized supply chain management relies on high-quality data and lots of it. Fleet tracking provides a combination of real-time positioning and reporting applications.
- With so many moving parts, controlling supply chain costs can be crucial. Fleet managers will find vehicle tracking technology a very effective way of tracking fuel usage and controlling fuel consumption.
Supply chain managers use a wide range of real-time tracking hardware and software for supply chain visibility. Here’s an overview.
Fleet Tracking Technology
Fleet tracking technology hardware is installed on the individual vehicles used to move goods through the supply chain. Installation may include ocean vessels, railcar chassis, truck cabs, and other modes. The IoT devices can report vehicle positions intermittently or in real-time based on GPS coordinates. The GPS hardware is integrated with reporting software that shows locations on a map.
Most GPS fleet tracking systems are highly automated and do not need constant monitoring. They are designed to send alerts automatically when attention is needed.
A GPS fleet tracker lets fleet managers plan for detours to bypass traffic and avoid accidents. Fleet tracking systems also increase driver and dispatch manager efficiency. Drivers can access real-time information such as traffic data and accidents along planned routes.
Thanks to the real-time tracking options, fleet managers are able to make timely decisions without getting bogged down in paperwork. They can instantly see and ask about technical difficulties that drivers are encountering and receive fast responses. Fleet managers can also make timely pickups, scheduled deliveries, and maintenance decisions.
Shipment Tracking Technology
Some companies prefer tracking the shipment rather than the vehicle(s) it travels on. GPS IoT devices can be attached to individual pallets, intermodal shipping containers, or other shipment parts to provide real-time location updates.
Shipment tracking devices work similar to vehicle tracking, with location software that provides data on the shipment’s exact location at all times.
Warehouse Tracking Technology
Once goods have arrived, whether at an intermediary storage location or their final destination, it’s essential to know where they are in the warehouse.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
BLEeacons transmit location to Bluetooth-enabled devices within range. Powered by batteries, BLE signals can be detected by smartphones, tablets, and similar technology. BLE is not often used in more giant warehouses because of its limited range and accuracy.
UWB beacons provide real-time location tracking within a warehouse. Although the most expensive option, their speed, and accuracy are unmatched.
UWB systems work by placing “anchors” around the tracked space, creating an invisible grid that can monitor the storage facility. UWB tags can be attached to specific assets, and the anchors will track the location of every marker. The UWB software provides fast, accurate position reporting.
Forklifts, carts, and other warehouse equipment also use UWB technology so that warehouse managers can track high-value equipment. UWB tags on equipment can work with barcode, RFID, or other.
Radio Frequency Identification
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has been used to track inventory levels and locations of goods in warehouses for a long time. Although the technology remains popular, it has limitations.
RFID tags are often only scanned when passing through a certain point, such as being placed on a shelf or delivered to a warehouse. RFID passive tags have very short ranges, too. The gates and readers can be expensive to purchase and deploy.
For these reasons, RFID tags are typically used for stock level tracking and inventory management rather than location identification.
Probably the most ubiquitous technology, barcodes provide a passive method of tracking inventory and location. They are simple to work with and inexpensive. Barcodes can be combined with other technologies to provide low-cost but limited location management.
Storage Conditions Monitoring
Some supply chain technology can monitor the environmental conditions in which goods are transported or stored using IoT monitoring sensors. Examples include:
- Temperature monitoring for the cold storage and transporting of agricultural goods, pharmaceuticals, etc.
- Atmospheric monitoring to pick up on changes in atmospheric composition and humidity
- Light monitoring for photo-sensitive products
- Other sensors for pollutants, radiation, and other factors
Typically, these devices are paired with software that issues an alarm or alert if certain thresholds are breached.
Fleet tracking technologies improve efficiency in supply chain management, increase driver safety, reduce vehicle theft, and ensure happy customers.
Logistics companies not leveraging the power of fleet tracking technology and supply chain visibility may soon find themselves getting left in the dust.