IoT is helping push cargo tracking forward as sensors communicate with one another as well as send information back to PCs and mobile devices. Cargo tracking technology will shift to 4G networking in the future, which will also encourage growth in the market.
Successfully tracking assets as they make their way from the factory to the retail store can be challenging. It’s not only important to make sure that products are always in stock and arrive in a timely manner; there’s also the issue of keeping shipping companies accountable as those products travel over long distances, whether by land, sea, or air. Add to this the fact that some items are perishable and require special shipping conditions, and the fact that some cargo is highly sought after by criminals, and thorough tracking clearly becomes a more critical and complex task.
In the past, you had to take the shipping company’s word for it that your shipments were in good hands, and rely on paper documents and phone calls to make sure items were moving in a timely fashion. Eventually wireless and location-based technologies “made it possible for a company to monitor the goods inside the shipment while being transported anytime, anywhere,” says Raquel Artes, industry analyst at ABI Research. Today, asset tracking technologies are advanced enough to generate immediate notifications when shipments are lost or stolen, or if there have been potential counterfeit-related attacks during transit.
The technology behind this level of tracking revolves around “compact, portable, and rechargeable GPS systems, which fit cellular and satellite components into one device,” Artes says. This means you can use both satellite and cellular tracking at the same time to make sure that regardless of where your items are located, you can get reliable information. These devices are specifically designed to stay powered up over long periods of time and be versatile enough to fit in a wide range of cargo containers and trailers. Plus, as we’ve mentioned, you can get the added security benefit of having sensors go wherever your goods do, even when they fall into the wrong hands.
“Since these devices are small, [they] can be covertly hidden inside the product, packaging, box, or pallet and monitored via the internet using SaaS [software as a service] . . . and provide alert notification real-time for any breaches that occur,” says Artes. “Cargo thieves may have difficulty in detecting these devices. In addition, it allows companies to track their goods even in a situation in which goods have been transferred/reloaded to a different container or vehicle owned by cargo thieves while in transit. This gives companies the opportunity to act promptly and help facilitate the speedy recovery of their products.”
Today’s asset tracking devices combine GPS and sensors into one package to relay more information back to the carrier, manufacturer, and/or retailer.
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