“Connected Fleet” Failures in Cold Chain Logistics
The advent of GPS has revolutionized the way locations are tracked. GPS has become a very handy tool for navigating the world. It has branched out to include many disciplines and areas of business. Vehicle tracking has become a significant application of the technology. The ability to track multiple vehicles gave rise to vehicle management or “connected fleets.”
Fleet management became a functioning industry that tracks commercial vehicles such as trucks, cars, private vehicles, aviation machinery, ships, and rail cars. It has helped the vehicle leasing industries, vehicle maintenance, and cold chain. While fleet telematics (information exchange between vehicles) has advanced in leaps and bounds, it still has a lot to improve on when it comes to logistics.
Logistics has been improved in many ways. GPS, GLObal NAvigation Satellite System (GLONASS), cellular triangulation, and good centralized systems became reliable tools to detect the movement of vehicles, predict variables, and provide informed decisions to the driver and the whole fleet management. While that is a good start, logistics include more than just the carrier, it also involves the products being transported, which is, by far, more important.
Vehicle tracking, even with its sophisticated fleet telematics system (FCS) still lacks the capability to gather granular data such as cargo temperature or package humidity. Even if connected fleets are equipped with advanced fuel sensors, ignition sensors, and driving behavior analysis, the absence of package-level sensing leaves gaps for potential problems.
It is because of this insufficiency that many vehicle tracking companies fail in their attempts to penetrate the world of logistics. Complete logistics visibility cannot be achieved simply by tracking all the fleets in the world. To become part of the ever-growing connected fleet industry, here’s a list of actions that can be taken to become a better logistics partner.
Difficulty Tracking 3PLs
Asking a friend for his exact location might be difficult. The same goes for Third Party Logistics (3PLs), logistics service providers (LSPs), or sometimes referred to as market vehicles. Logistic operations are comprised of both fleet vehicles and hired vehicles. Even though it’s easy to track the movement of vehicles within the fleet, tracking hired vehicles is nearly impossible, unless they are provided with their own tracking systems. Vehicle tracking system installations are perfect for vehicles owned by the fleet management, but do not always work on hired vehicles and temporary LSPs.
No Package-Level Delivery Confirmation
The work of most last-mile delivery optimization is to track vehicle delivery. Tracking delivered contents is out of their responsibility. That’s why sending incorrect packages, delivering packages to incorrect locations are frequent occurrences. Less effective vaccines can be a result of not having package level sensing.
Moreover, last-mile delivery tools rely on vehicle location; therefore, a package delivered by hand is not well-tracked. Unless the driver scans an invoice or punches in data, there is no way to know whether the package has been accurately delivered. This process of first-hand relaying of information by the driver is not ideal for real-time tracking. Drivers in a hurry may also prefer to wrap up paperwork at the end of their day, thus delaying tracking.
A vehicle tracker can never send alerts about stolen cargo. While it can send messages when the vehicle is stolen, it is not designed to do the same for lost cargo. Even though management can act immediately on route deviations, to reduce the possibility of losing packages, the chances of recovering the stolen packages inside the vehicles fall as time passes.
No Warehouse-Level Condition Alerts
Logistics and warehousing might be critical touchpoints in the supply chain, but the movement of goods within the warehouse is just as important. Supply chain tracking solutions stop where the warehouse begins. When on-time delivery is the goal, it’s vital to monitor choke-points and risk-prone areas, not only on the road, but also while the delivery vehicle is parked. Vehicle tracking systems are unreliable because they don’t track packages stuck in intermediate warehouses and sorting centers.
No-Cargo Level Condition Monitoring
Knowing a transport’s location can be less important than knowing the condition of the cargo. After all, the goal of logistics is to deliver the product on time and of good quality. Sometimes, however, vehicle tracking systems are only designed to assess the vehicle and its location, not what’s inside. Delivering damaged goods can damage a fleet company’s integrity.
The biggest challenge for fleet management is its inability to know the conditions of the products. That’s where most vehicle tracking companies fail in the supply chain industry. Applying real-time monitoring devices and hybrid IoT solutions can fill the gaps for improvement. Several IoT devices can track package, cargo, and warehouse-level conditions, leveraging the technologies of not only GPS,3 but also GSM, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). When placed together with an effective fleet management, these devices can provide full end-to-end visibility, where all levels of the supply chain can see the data in real-time.