Cargo tracking devices have emerged as a transformative solution to address delivery issues for logistics operations. With their capability for precise tracking, route optimization, real-time alerts, and data-driven decision-making, these sophisticated tools have the potential to alleviate various delivery issues that often plague the industry. Let’s break down the common challenges, how cargo tracking works, and how they specifically address delivery issues.


 

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Common Delivery Challenges Facing Logistics Operations

In the intricate landscape of logistics operations, a multitude of challenges can disrupt the flow of goods from origin to final destination, causing delays, inefficiencies, and customer dissatisfaction. Understanding and addressing these common delivery issues is paramount to maintaining a well-oiled supply chain. These challenges include:

1. Delivery Delays. One of the most prevalent issues is delivery delays, often stemming from factors like traffic congestion, adverse weather conditions, or unexpected route deviations. These delays can disrupt schedules, impact customer satisfaction, and even lead to financial losses.

2. Last-Mile Challenges. The final leg of the journey from the distribution center to the customer's doorstep, presents its own set of hurdles. Complex urban environments, restricted time frames, and the need for precision often make last-mile delivery a demanding task.

3. Inaccurate Tracking. Lack of accurate tracking and real-time visibility into shipments can lead to confusion and uncertainty. Shippers and customers alike require up-to-date information to monitor the progress of their deliveries.

4. Communication Gaps. Effective communication between all parties involved in the delivery process is essential. Breakdowns in communication can result in missed instructions, wrong addresses, or misunderstood requirements.

5. Vehicle Breakdowns. Operational efficiency relies heavily on the performance of delivery vehicles. Breakdowns or maintenance issues can lead to unplanned downtime, affecting delivery schedules.

6. Improper Handling. Mishandling during transit can cause damage to goods, leading to rejected shipments, returns, and dissatisfied customers, detrimentally affecting a company’s reputation.

7. Regulatory Compliance. For condition-sensitive deliveries, navigating complex regulatory requirements can lead to delays and additional costs if not properly addressed.

8. Capacity Constraints. During peak periods, such as holidays or promotions, increased demand can strain delivery networks, leading to capacity constraints and potential service disruptions.

Addressing these common delivery issues requires a proactive approach. Implementing advanced technologies like cargo tracking devices and other asset tracking solutions can provide valuable insights and solutions to mitigate these challenges. Identifying and resolving these common issues contributes to not only smoother operations but also enhanced customer satisfaction, establishing a strong foundation for success in the dynamic realm of logistics. In order to readily observe the impact of cargo tracking, however, one must first understand how these devices operate.

How Cargo Tracking Devices Work

Cargo tracking devices can be used to ensure the efficient and secure movement of goods from point A to point B, revolutionizing the way assets are monitored and managed throughout their journey. These devices leverage cutting-edge technology to provide real-time insights and data, enhancing the visibility and control of valuable shipments.

At the heart of effective cargo tracking is asset tracking, a process that involves attaching specialized asset tags to shipments to gather and transmit essential information. These devices come equipped with a range of sensors, communication technologies, and software solutions that collaborate to provide comprehensive data about the cargo's location, condition, and status on both the trailer and the unit level.

While all asset tags are designed to provide location data through GPS and similar technologies, advanced cargo tracking devices also incorporate an array of sensors to detect temperature, humidity, shock, tampering, and more. These sensors collect data about the environmental conditions and handling of cargo, ensuring that it remains within specified parameters and detecting any potential issues that could compromise its quality. With these sensors in place, cargo tracking can go beyond providing a dot on a map to create a lasting record of product conditions.

Location and condition data is transmitted through various communication technologies to centralized platforms or cloud-based systems, where it is processed, analyzed, and presented in a user-friendly format. Data analytics tools process this information to generate valuable reports and trends, helping logistics professionals make informed decisions to optimize routes, reduce delays, and enhance overall operational efficiency. These platforms can also be used to send real-time alerts and notifications to relevant stakeholders. These alerts can include updates on the cargo's location, changes in environmental conditions, or deviations from the planned route, allowing for prompt actions to be taken.

Using Cargo Tracking to Solve Common Delivery Issues

As the logistics industry continues to evolve, cargo tracking devices stand as a testament to the power of innovation in enhancing the way goods are transported, monitored, and managed across the globe. Here are some of the ways they can be used to address the common delivery challenges that we touched on earlier.

Addressing Delivery Delays
Delivery delays can occur for any number of reasons, many of which are out of a company’s direct control. Car accidents and road work can cause traffic congestion; inclement weather can force drivers to slow down or pull over entirely. Both of these create a setback in the delivery process, despite being out of the driver’s direct control beyond checking available live roadmaps and weather forecasts. By employing a trailer tracker, however, you can still address these concerns in a way that lessens the impact. If you know that your goods are being held up, you can inform the customer of the reason and provide updated ETAs as the delays worsen or resolve. The key to addressing delivery delays is to understand that while they cannot be avoided, you must equip your trailer in such a way that you don’t have to leave your customer in the dark.

Securing the Last Mile
Last mile delivery, the final stretch to the end-user, is the leg of the journey where deliveries are most often lost or misplaced. Whether they get shuffled into the wrong vehicle, dropped off at the wrong location, or even left behind at the distribution center, the biggest challenge to be addressed is the visibility of products and packages themselves. By outfitting individual units with cargo tracking devices, however, it is easier to identify the location of individual deliveries and ensure that they are sent to the right destination. On the off chance that something is still misplaced, these devices also provide a reliable method of recovering what is lost, which means that customers receive their orders sooner and your company doesn’t have to spend money replacing what was already sent out.

Ensuring Accurate Tracking
Most companies do have some system for tracking deliveries in place, even if it’s just through telematics systems or manual record-keeping. However, both of these methods aren’t necessarily the greatest strategies for tracking cargo. Telematics isn’t technically designed for this function, so you’re trying to use the technology for insights it wasn’t meant to give you; manually tracking cargo is time consuming and complicated, and it requires increased attention to detail to avoid human error. Luckily, cargo tracking devices are made with the intention of providing unit-level visibility for pallets and products. By tagging products, you can ensure that you have a complete, accurate record of where they’re located, even within the trailer.

Patching Communication Gaps
A delivery issue that has very little to do with the deliveries themselves but can make a very real difference to the success of your processes is the gaps that often occur in communications. Throughout the manufacturing and distribution process, most products will exchange hands multiple times. It’s crucial that each understands their roles and what’s expected of them. It’s also important that more hands-off stakeholders are also included within communications so they know what’s going on, especially managers and end customers. The best way to patch these gaps in communication is to have a central system in place that all process participants and stakeholders can refer to as needed, preferably a system that provides different clearance levels depending on what each individual needs access for. Cargo tracking devices that take the form of a smart trailer provide some of the most effective options for solving this challenge, as they hinge on compiling as much information as possible and can cover everyone’s knowledge needs.

Preventing Vehicle Breakdowns
Another prevailing challenge that is critical to your company’s ability to deliver orders on time is vehicle breakdowns. While it’s true that these breakdowns can occur with very little warning, especially if you’ve been driving for extended periods or in questionable conditions, it is possible to at least minimize the potential for breakdowns by monitoring maintenance patterns and asset usage. Telematics systems already account for this in the truck; with trailer tracking, you can account for this in your trailer as well. By tracking your trailers with asset tags programmed to report movement or exits from their home facility, you can keep track of when and how often each trailer is used. With this information, you can better determine when each unit should undergo inspections and preventative maintenance. This allows trailers to be repaired during their downtime instead of when they’re in the process of making a delivery. Also, by monitoring trailer usage, you can better cycle through trailers to ensure no one unit is being overutilized, a condition that leads to faster and more frequent breakdowns and often leads to needing a replacement unit prematurely.

Ensuring Proper Handling
Ensuring that products are properly handled during the transportation process means ensuring that customers receive a quality product. If products are mishandled, they may become damaged or unusable, which means the customer will need to wait to receive a replacement for something they were anticipating already having. This can have a negative impact on the company’s reputation, as well on the drivers, even if the damage wasn’t caused by any direct action on their part. With a cargo tracking system, each product, pallet, or other unit can be outfitted with an asset tag programmed to detect shock or tampering. If the product moves or shifts unexpectedly while in transit, the driver will be alerted so that they can check on it. If it’s damaged, they can put in for a replacement sooner; if it’s not, they can secure the asset to prevent damage. The right tags can also be used to ensure proper handling for condition-sensitive goods by detecting temperature and humidity. Similarly, if an asset falls out of the predefined range, the driver can act quickly to address the issue.

Meeting Regulatory Compliance
Monitoring sensitive conditions is only half of the battle when transporting perishable goods. It’s also important for companies to maintain records that prove their ability to meet regulatory requirements. It can be a challenging task to maintain accurate, data-supported records, and if a company can’t, it’s often treated as having not met those standards in the first place, resulting in fines and lost reputation. By employing a cargo tracking system, the relevant data can be compiled and maintained with greater speed and accuracy than any reliance on manual records. Also, since these systems provide insight to conditions on the asset-level, the reports are far more complete than ones simply derived from trailer temperatures. This allows companies to quickly prove their compliance and return to regular operations.

Planning Around Capacity Constraints
There are certain times over the course of the year that logistics operations will be busier than usual, pressed with increased demand. This most commonly occurs around holidays, but it can also occur due to promotional periods or other events that encourage increased spending. During these periods, more deliveries need to be made in the same amount of time. Trailers must be utilized to their fullest potential and more units will likely need to be on the road. Luckily, a cargo tracking system can help companies make these decisions. Asset visibility systems can be used to predict usage based on historical data. It can provide a baseline of what operations look like overall or across a given period. With this data, operators can predict upticks in deliveries. Further, they can help condense loads into single trailers if two routes overlap and the trailer is not already full; individual asset tags can report to the trailer to assess whether it’s at capacity. They can also keep track of which trailers are already on the road so they know what they have at their disposal.

Using AirFinder Everywhere to Address Delivery Issues

If your company is facing any of the challenges discussed in this article, Link Labs can help. Our AirFinder Everywhere solution is designed to bring visibility to your logistics operations, whether you’re looking to avoid delays, improve resource allocation, or otherwise increase your operational efficiency. By affixing one of our patented SuperTags to your trailer and individual asset tags to each product or pallet, we can provide full visibility for your deliveries both individually and as a whole. We offer a wide range of tags that can be programmed to report on temperature, humidity, shock, tampering, and more. We even have the option to integrate with your telematics system to help keep all your operational data in one central location, improving ease of access so you don’t have to learn a whole new platform. Learn more about how AirFinder Everywhere promotes cargo tracking, and reach out to book a demo today!

Telematics vs. Trailer Tracking: Which Should You Use for Supply Chain Data Analytics?

Written by Makenna Dudley

Makenna Dudley is a Marketing Associate for Link Labs, with practical experience in written communications, media writing, and additional forms of content creation. She has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication.

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