Despite technological progress, there is still a serious lack of transparency in the logistics sector. A digital supply chain is the basic requirement for transparency on the market and for the establishment of logistics 4.0.

Tracking technologies have made their way into all possible modes of transport for containers and pallets offer the solution for intransparency. With the help of data collection and data processing, various tracking devices are able to overcome hurdles that still exist in the industry today. The processed data is transmitted to the customer at the right time and in the right place. By consolidating and processing data, especially using Track & Trace, weak points can be constantly improved. In order to remain competitive, it is therefore crucial for logistics companies to keep abreast of current technological trends and developments.

Track & Trace technology in logistics

Freights can be in transit for weeks or months, driving thousands of kilometres and switching owners several times. These circumstances create a large number of challenges. Logistics companies are tackling against this strong fragmentation in the industry. The installation of sensors or the use of passive solutions such as RFID tags can solve the problem. For instance, RFID tags can only send data to recipients that are located directly around them. These are often located near airports, terminals or warehouses.

Additionally, by attaching beacons (devices with a sender and receiver function) to transport, real-time location and status information can be sent to sensors in transit or in warehouses.

This allows freighters to obtain real-time information on movement history, idle time, geographical location, estimated time of arrival, light contact and temperature.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The enrichment of the IoT lies in enabling communication with various devices and creating a detailed real-time image. This enables carriers as well as logistics companies to monitor their loads on their way at any time.

According to KPMG, 87 percent of all companies planned to invest in IoT or have already done so. A growing number of different, sensor-driven tools offers users an unprecedented level of transparency along the supply chain. Expanding mobile networks, more efficient batteries and improvements in cloud computing thus provide the development of globally connected tracking devices. This makes real-time supply chain monitoring an acceptable option.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, one third of all food products spoil during transportation. With new IoT sensors, carriers can receive real-time data and temperature fluctuation alerts to prevent goods from spoiling. Logistics companies handling those transports also receive warnings. Potential warnings enable them to avoid possible losses.

Online Forwarding

Online freight forwarders do not require shippers to spend millions of euros on new equipment. Instead, existing fleets and technologies are used to ensure end-to-end visibility. The most modern equipment needed is the driver’s smartphone. Even small carriers with small technology budgets then have the opportunity to be successful in the market,

While conventional freight forwarders bought capacity from carriers in advance, which is often rarely efficient, the idea for the online shipment of freight developed. This was achieved by the request for real-time shipment data and open capacity information. Empty trucks often drove from the drop-off point to the loading area. In Germany alone, 58.5 percent of around 151 billion trucks made empty trips in 2016. Digital freight forwarding today enables carriers to offer additional capacity online. As carriers can now take shipments with them on their return journeys, less empty runs and increased productivity can be achieved.

Computer Learning in Logistics

Instead of “transparency”, some industry experts point to the importance of “predictability”. Experts expect that with the vast amounts of data available to supply chain operators, we will soon have technologies which will allow us to accurately forecast the location of shipments. The use of algorithms thus enables proper and efficient route planning for the future.

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