Elevating Air Freight: The Power of Real-Time Visibility & Modern Trackers

October 30, 2023

February 5, 2024


x min read

Whenever you unbox that latest gadget, transport perishable food, or rely on life-saving medical equipment, it's air freight working behind the scenes to ensure these items travel from continent to continent without a hitch. Air freight might not transport the majority of shipments, but it moves the most valuable and time-sensitive ones. While it might account for just 1% of global trade by volume, its significance is undeniable—representing 35% of the world's trade by value

Yet, like anything, air freight has its challenges. Picture trying to keep an eye on a package as it zooms across continents, 30,000+ feet in the air—not so simple, right? Old-school tracking methods often provide only a blurry snapshot, and the heaps of paperwork can be a logistical nightmare. Moreover, while technology promises to pave a smoother path, the air freight industry still struggles to make the entire journey visible to all stakeholders—despite higher API connectivity in the air than ever. So, the question remains: where do we go from here?

Understanding Air Freight Visibility

Staying ahead in logistics today means having a clear view of your shipments, every step of the way. That's where air freight visibility comes into play as a game changer.

What is Air Freight Visibility?

At its core, air freight visibility is the real-time tracking and monitoring of goods shipped by air. It's like having a bird's-eye view into your package's journey, from warehouse departure to final destination. For shippers, this isn't just about peace of mind—it's a tool for proactive problem-solving, timely communication, and refining logistics for the future.

Limitations of Current Air Freight Visibility Solutions

Air freight visibility is a tricky business for shippers. It’s complex, challenging, and full of hurdles. You need more than just good coordination; you need to get around the real limitations of current visibility tools. Without an all-encompassing solution offering unmatched clarity and control, here’s what you could be up against:

  • Communication Delays: In the air, no GPS or cellular signals mean delays in communication. That equals small issues turning into big disruptions, creating an unpleasant ripple effect through your entire supply chain.
  • Miscommunications: Precision is key in air cargo, but traditional tools often drop the ball, leading to missed pickups and outdated exchanges.These mishaps disrupt carefully planned shipping and pickup processes, causing significant setbacks.
  • Data Access and Updates: Without real-time data and the ability to use lithium battery-powered trackers, you’re making decisions blindfolded based on outdated or incorrect information. Doing so results in inefficiencies and bottlenecks that hinder the smooth flow of operations.
  • Customs and Regulatory Compliance: Limited visibility makes the complex landscape of customs and regulatory even more challenging. Ensuring cargo security and maintaining compliance demand expertise and constant attention—a task made more challenging without the support of visibility.
  • Technology Integration: Getting the right visibility tools to integrate with your existing systems is vital, yet often overlooked. You need accuracy, proactive management, and solid support.
  • Data Utilization: Even with access to data, the challenge lies in effectively leveraging it. Existing visibility solutions may provide the numbers, but they often lack in delivering the depth and clarity needed for interpretation. 

How Hardware Trackers & Tags Enhance Air Freight Visibility

The difference between success and setback in shipping often hinges on one pivotal element: visibility. Visibility in logistics isn’t solely about "seeing" in a literal sense but rather is about comprehending, forecasting, and refining every step of the journey. Hardware trackers and tags have emerged as the top tools to enhance this experience. But how exactly do they redefine air freight visibility?

Real-time Location Tracking: The GPS, 5G & Beyond Revolution

At the heart of any successful shipment is knowing its exact location. This situation is where technologies such as GPS, 5G cellular, and WiFi triangulation come into play. GPS, a satellite-based system, offers geolocation almost anywhere on the planet. It's the go-to for monitoring goods during long-haul voyages or cross-country trucking. On the other hand, 5G cellular, with its prowess in short-range tracking, proves invaluable within the confines of warehouses, during the loading and unloading of goods, or at busy transit hubs such as airports. Finally, WiFi triangulation can fill in the gaps using nearby access points to enhance accuracy.

Condition Monitoring: More Than Just Location

While the location of a shipment is undeniably important, the condition of the cargo is equally so. Cold chain visibility becomes especially crucial in this context when it comes to transporting temperature-sensitive items like pharmaceuticals or perishable foods. For this cargo, even a minor temperature fluctuation can be the difference between a successful delivery and a compromised product. Trackers diligently monitor these temperature variations, ensuring goods have remained in their optimal environment throughout the flight.

But it doesn't stop there. Humidity levels, vital for certain goods, are also monitored—and any deviation from the desired range is promptly flagged. Additionally, the physical handling of the cargo is under constant surveillance. Advanced trackers detect and record sudden shocks and mishandling events, offering shippers insights into potential weak spots in their supply chain.

Seamless Communication with Management Platforms

Data is king, but its true value is unlocked only when it is both accessible and actionable. Hardware trackers excel by offering seamless communication with management platforms. This data stream feeds into unified dashboards, eliminating the need for multiple tools or platforms and offering a consolidated, holistic view of all shipments. 

When integrated with advanced analytics, tracking data becomes a crystal ball—predicting potential disruptions and suggesting optimal routes for timely and efficient deliveries.

How Tive Trackers Work In Flight 

Tive has transformed shipment visibility, combining cellular, WiFi, and GPS for unmatched accuracy on road, ocean, rail, and in the air—despite the challenges posed by air freight's lack of network connectivity and in-flight cellular restrictions. Here’s how:

  • Bypassing GPS and Cellular Limitations: Unlike typical trackers, Tive devices don’t rely on GPS satellites or cellular signals in flight. Instead, users input their Air Waybill (AWB) numbers directly into the Tive platform for location tracking.
  • Instant Location Access: Entering the AWB numbers gives customers immediate access to their freight’s location, sidestepping the usual connectivity issues of air shipments.
  • Versatile Tracking: Whether your shipment is airborne, on the road, on a train, or at sea, Tive ensures consistent and reliable visibility.
  • User-Friendly Platform: All these functionalities are easily accessible through Tive’s intuitive cloud platform, making shipment tracking hassle free across all transportation modes.

Benefits of Enhanced Air Freight Visibility

Air freight visibility is the catalyst driving transformative changes in logistics. This clarity is paramount for shippers—and is foundational to success in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, perishables, electronics, and high-value goods. Let's explore why:

  • Cost Savings and Efficiency: Shippers can quickly spot inefficiencies and refine their supply chain processes with real-time data at their fingertips. The result? Fewer disruptions, better-run logistics, and a significant boost in overall efficiency.
  • Improved Customer Experience: Imagine the trust and loyalty a brand can foster when customers can track shipments in real time. This transparency keeps customers informed, and amplifies their overall satisfaction and brand loyalty.
  • Advanced Analytical Capabilities: The true power of visibility shines when shippers contrast real-time data against predefined milestones. Add to this the might of machine learning and artificial intelligence and you have a potent analytical tool that paves the way for informed decisions and strategic optimization.
  • Improved Workflow and Profitability: A transparent supply chain naturally leads to a smoother workflow. This efficiency doesn't just enhance operations; it directly impacts the bottom line, driving profits while reducing customer costs and risks.
  • Real-Time Data Access: The heart of air freight visibility is real-time data. Offering a live snapshot of the supply chain empowers shippers to identify and rectify inefficiencies on the fly, ensuring timely deliveries and a well-oiled logistical machine.
  • Competitive Advantage: In the cutthroat world of shipping, visibility is a game-changing advantage. It empowers companies to sharpen operations, make data-backed decisions, and offer unparalleled service.

Real-World Applications & Case Studies

Air freight visibility is a lifeline for countless industries and important shipments. With evolving technology, the stakes are higher—and the demand for precision is unparalleled. Through the lens of real-world applications and case studies, we can see how this visibility shapes the future of logistics.

The Time-Sensitive Nature of Organ Transport 

In 2022, the U.S. saw 42,887 organ transplants. As we approached October 18, 2023, another 34,893 miracles occurred, yet 103,000 individuals remain on waiting lists. Entrusted to 58 dedicated nonprofit organizations, this intricate process of transporting organs is tense. One simple misstep or delay can jeopardize the life-altering gift of a new organ. Game-changing companies like AirSpace's AirTrace, paired with Tive, step in so this doesn't happen. Picture a world where every organ shipment is watched with hawk-eyed precision—down to every three-foot twist and turn. The sensors contained in Tive trackers act as vigilant watch dogs–tracking not just location data, but vital conditions such as temperature and humidity.   

Tive’s Multi-Sensor Solo 5G Non-Lithium Trackers: A Deep Dive into Cold Chain Temperature Tracking

Tive's Solo 5G Non-Lithium tracker, the world’s first non-lithium 5G tracker, offers an unparalleled look into the journey of goods in transit—from location to temperature. Whether using GPS, WiFi, or even cell tower magic, Tive ensures that precious cargo is always visible and in perfect condition. After all, with over half (54% to per 2021 IATA data) of cargo currently being classified as perishable, there's never been a more pressing time for such detailed insight. Tive’s cold chain solutions go beyond simple tracking for precision, even in the harshest conditions. In fact, Tive offers two probes that work with Solo 5G trackers to monitor temperatures plummeting to a frigid -200°C, catering to the rising demand for dry ice and cryogenic shipments.  

How Tive Trackers Helped Mercury  

Since its inception in 1984, Mercury has been a trailblazer in shipping—especially in the Healthcare & Life Sciences, Professional Services, and Technology sectors. However, tracking real-time shipment locations remained challenging until they partnered with Tive. Mercury considered four potential partners and ultimately chose Tive because of its user-friendly, compact, and cost-effective GPS trackers. For Mercury, they've proven especially valuable for NFO (Next Flight Out), time-sensitive air freight shipments, such as surgical implants. In one memorable case, a Tive tracker pinpointed a misplaced implant across the street from a hospital just in time for surgery—showcasing how Tive technology helped protect a patient's well-being while clearly demonstrating the value of the solution.

End-to-End Visibility: The Ultimate Goal 

Air freight is the unsung hero in our daily lives. Every time we marvel at a new gadget or enjoy fresh produce from another continent, it's thanks to these unseen shipments crisscrossing the skies. Yet, tracking these valuable shipments is more challenging than you'd think. Picture playing hide and seek with a package across vast oceans and time zones. That’s why end-to-end visibility is the ultimate goal.

Thankfully, we're on the cusp of a game-changing era. Visibility platforms such as Tive are lighting up the once-shadowy paths of air freight, bringing every shipment into sharp focus. It isn't just about better tracking—it's about connecting every dot from start to finish to make the complex world of air freight as transparent as a pane of glass. And as we turn the pages of this evolving story, complete visibility is the chapter we're all eagerly awaiting. Want to be part of the next chapter? Get started with Tive today.

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