Is Real-Time Supply Chain Tracking of Shipments Possible?

July 21, 2021

February 5, 2024


x min read

When it comes to running an efficient global supply chain, hope is not a strategy and ignorance is not a defense. Hoping shipments arrive on time, in full and unscathed is simply not enough. Nor is answering “I don’t know” when an angry shipper or customer asks for a status update on an already-late delivery. Thanks to real-time supply chain tracking, no one is left in the dark anymore. Now, exceptions can be addressed and communicated to stakeholders as they happen. And there is never a doubt as to the location and condition of an in-transit shipment. This provides peace of mind that is often elusive in a world where chaos reigns. The next disruption is always right around the corner.  

Emerging technologies are driving improvements in transportation visibility. This is also solving challenges that had been limiting the widespread adoption of real-time supply chain tracking solutions. Alliances such as the Open Visibility Network are also playing a key role in that regard. As a result, supply chains are more dynamic, more agile, and more reliable than ever.

What is Real-Time Supply Chain Tracking of Shipments

The days of using track-and-trace or passive loggers and check calls (calling a carrier directly to determine the status of a shipment) are long gone. Today’s technologies deliver real-time supply chain tracking capabilities that inform logistics professionals exactly where their assets are always, and in what condition. Trackers at the pallet level monitor trucks, trailers, ships and containers to determine the exact location, temperature, humidity, exposure to light, shock incidents, and more.

Overcoming the Challenges to Widespread Adoption

Real-time supply chain tracking technology continues to evolve, and adoption rates are soaring across all major industries. However, it was not always this way. Here are a few of the challenges that had to be solved:

  •  Too many silos: Shippers, receivers, carriers, and logistics service providers need to be connected through collaborative systems and software.
  • Fear of technology: Easy-to-use interfaces and trackers are leading organizations to leave behind their antiquated manage-by-spreadsheet ways.
  • Lack of trust in data: Seamless integrations at all levels of the supply chain ensure data integrity.
  • Maintaining Tracker Connectivity: Data is collected, and real-time alerts are sent, over a variety of connections: 2G, 3G, LTE, 5G / GPS / WiFi location.

Real-Time Visibility, Real-World Impact

According to IBM Insights with Watson, 87% of Chief Supply Chain Officers surveyed said it is difficult to predict and proactively manage disruptions. However, real-time supply chain tracking is making it possible to manage exceptions as they occur. For instance, when automotive manufacturers need to issue a stop shipment alert that halts production due to a manufacturing error, being able to issue that notification in real-time saves time and money. All faulty vehicles are immediately identified, inventory gets updated right away and all shipments are canceled, preventing substandard vehicles from leaving the plant. Here is another example of supply chain visibility making an impact. An aerospace manufacturer sought deeper insights into the disruptions that were impacting the company’s supply chain. Leveraging artificial intelligence, they were able to identify raw material shortages, events, and news, as well as monitor suppliers and route integrity. Those insights empowered managers to take swift action when responding to, or in some cases, even preventing disruptions.

However, perhaps the most striking example of real-time supply chain tracking making an impact is happening right now during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be kept within the range of minus-80 and minus-60 degrees Fahrenheit while being transported. It is imperative to notify stakeholders immediately when a shipment falls outside the acceptable range. Failure to do so could result in a lost shipment worth millions of dollars — or worse, the loss of human lives.

Experience the Power of Greater Supply Chain Visibility

Each year, more than $10 billion worth of products are lost or damaged while in transit. It is possible to eliminate this waste by enabling companies to act on in-transit incidents before that happens. Tive makes this possible through the analysis of data resulting from real-time supply chain tracking. Contact Tive and schedule a demo of their world-class trackers to learn more.

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