Telematics aggregation and sensor-driven visibility: Everything you ever wanted to know but were too afraid to ask
As supply chains make increasing demands of logistics companies when it comes to real-time visibility, decision-makers frequently end up facing a choice between telematics aggregation and sensor-driven visibility.
Both are highly capable solutions in their own right, but more and more frequently we see that there are very interesting use cases for when you’ll want to combine the two solutions together, and a few other cases where you’ll definitely want to avoid making some common mistakes.
What to look for in a visibility partner
Telematics aggregation data typically comes from a truck's systems, so as a shipper you want to look at the existing network that the visibility provider can offer, how well it’s built and if carriers can share data in a secure environment. Carriers, on the other hand, need to see the added value of using the network and the possibilities and tools that come with it.
Everyone wants to be able to access data they can act on in real-time. People want “OTF” - on time in full - which means the whole load arrives like clockwork, no “short ships”, pallets lost in transit, or other shipping mishaps. In any large distributed transportation network, be it Intermodal or cross-border, having sensors on the cargo is important from both a security and/or liability perspective when there are handoffs between carriers. You need monitoring for things like cold chain management or when breakage is an issue.
The crux of it is, that you want all your material delivered at the same time, and in the condition it was shipped in. If ever there is a risk that any of the above isn’t going to happen, you want to be able to take action when it matters. Not just sit back and wait for bad news to reach you while you’re already on vacation in the Canary Islands. Because then, the only ETA you care about is sunrise/set, the only handoff you care about is your beach towel, and the only delivery you care about is the waiter bringing your evening aperitif.
Not hearing about a delayed ETA, that something went wrong in the handoffs or deliveries, makes you at the mercy of circumstance, other people and the whims of nature. Being able to react in real-time or close to it, is not only valuable, but it also has a direct impact on the bottom line of that cargo’s movement.
Infrastructure: what’s needed to adopt telematics aggregation
90% of the longest shipment legs are being subcontracted. So in order to build a visibility network based on telemetrics, you need to build an infrastructure or system whereby the primary carrier can invite their subcontractors to use the platform. You want to look at the platform’s capabilities, how it performs, and what sort of interactions can take place to ensure 100% visibility. It’s a matter of good processes: building a virtual network where the shipper or carrier is able to link an asset with a certain shipment so that they can pair a truck together with that same shipment. And then allocate the portable IoT tracker to the same shipment.
Providing the ultimate seamless experience
The key to portable sensors that monitor cargo is having a seamless experience. Back in the day, people bought a few sensors, put them on certain shipments and then looked them up in a system to figure out where they were. That approach is perfectly fine if there’s only a small fleet of about 10 trucks, but when you're doing thousands of shipments, you need a proper service.
Your company needs to look at what sort of an environment you’re going to extend visibility into. This shouldn’t mean adding more procedures to the standard operations. It should be as simple as just putting in a real-time sensor. Look for a service provider that can provide sensors anywhere in the world, especially if you do intermodal or air freight.
It’s not just about knowing where some part of your cargo is but really understanding what’s happening with that cargo and being able to then decide what you can do about it. Today's real-time sensors have gone beyond the basics of letting you know when cargo is going to arrive, now they can keep you updated about what’s going on along the way. If there are areas where there's a security concern or where the cold chain is going to be compromised. Being able to manage all this additional knowledge and reacting to it quickly to make sure your business runs more efficiently: this is the end goal. Better data leads to actionable insights and better decision-making capabilities.
Telematics aggregation and sensor-driven visibility give you the ability to see further and know more specifics of your cargo. If that’s not a hallelujah moment for the supply chain, then we’re not sure what is.
Watch the webinar