What Is Real Time-Tracking in Logistics?

Cargo staff using computer laptop to monitor real time tracking in logisticsEvery consumer knows the thrill—and sometimes frustration—of using real-time tracking to keep tabs on an incoming package from Amazon or their favorite online store. Today, customers count on being able to track their packages’ every move, and feel the joy of seeing it inch closer and closer to their address and the anguish of seeing it delayed or rerouted. 

Today, having an accurate ETA for deliveries is essential to customers—and to your business and your clients as well. If you haven’t been using real-time tracking in logistics, you haven’t been taking advantage of a powerful tool to improve customer satisfaction—as well as your own business’ performance and efficiency.

What is real-time tracking?

Put simply, real-time freight and shipment tracking means you have an accurate reading of where a given item is in the supply chain at any time. Real-time tracking relies on GPS and chain-of-custody software to track your item’s movement from warehouses to distribution centers to its ultimate destination. 

Consumers are typically only privy to each stop on the item’s route, but GPS vehicle tracking gives you not only that, but also a down-to-the-second look at where your vehicle is on the road and how much progress it is making along its route.

Why is real-time tracking important?

With real-time tracking, your visibility into your delivery personnel helps you assign drivers to deliveries more efficiently, increases driver productivity, reduces fuel and labor costs, improves your customer service, helps you gain a better understanding of how long a route should take, and helps you identify high-performing delivery personnel as well as underperforming drivers.

The benefits of real-time shipment tracking

One of the biggest benefits to your business and your customers of real-time tracking is route optimization. By keeping an eye on the movements of your delivery personnel in real time, you can see the routes they’re taking to get from point A to point B, and many delivery tracking platforms offer route optimization planners that cut down on the time-consuming work of plotting out the most efficient routes by hand. 

As many delivery personnel are independent contractors and freelancers who are often left with few resources to find the best routes, not taking advantage of robust route optimization tools means allowing your drivers to muddle along on their own and risk making mistakes, taking slower routes, running into construction or traffic bottlenecks, and ultimately costing you and your customers time. Real-time tracking platforms with route optimization features spare your drivers from having to find their own way, which has massive positive effects on your business’ efficiency.

With real-time shipment tracking, it’s also much easier to give your clients and business partners on both ends of the supply chain updates when unforeseen complications such as weather events or other transit bottlenecks lead to a delayed shipment. Your clients can be notified of delays sooner and be provided with more accurate new ETAs for their shipments due to the wealth of real-time information your customer service has on hand.

Benefits of real-time shipment tracking include:

  • More efficient deliveries
  • More optimized routes
  • More deliveries
  • Increased productivity and driver performance
  • Reduced fuel and labor costs
  • Better customer service
  • Better client satisfaction
  • Better client retention

All of these things result in smoother operations for your business, less wasted time and money, and customers who will associate your name with excellent service and performance.

How does it affect your business to not have real-time tracking?

Just as there are many benefits to making use of real-time shipment tracking, there are many downsides to not using it. Ultimately, your business will be less efficient, less productive, and less able to give your clients the excellent freight service they deserve and expect from your business.

All you need to know to understand why you need real-time tracking is to think about the last time you ordered an item from an online store and got a long tracking number that didn’t become active for days and provided inexact location data when the item finally shipped. Worse, there was no transparency regarding delays, and you were given an inaccurate and seldom-updated ETA that left you proverbially standing at the door, looking at the proverbial clock and impatiently tapping your proverbial foot.

Every consumer has had that experience, and every business has had it, too. Robust real-time shipment and freight tracking is your way of reducing and eliminating this supply-chain frustration by enabling responsive, honest, and transparent customer support.

For your business’ operations, no real-time tracking means:

  • No visibility into the whole supply chain process
  • Less accountability and chain-of-custody
  • Inefficient fleet management
  • Wasted time and resources
  • Lower ROI and business growth
  • Increased frustration
  • Lower client satisfaction
  • Lower brand loyalty from your clients.

What is track-and-trace?

Track-and-trace is the underlying process behind any real-time freight or shipment tracking system. Put simply, it’s the tools you use to determine and record the current and past locations and chain of custody for a given item. Barcode scanning and radio-frequency identification (RFID) are two of the most common technologies used for tracking and tracing as part of a transportation management system (TMS). 

Both barcodes and RFID enable you to report the arrival or departure of the item, its location at the time of scanning, and the time at which it arrives and departs from the location. By feeding this data into a central database, you can have an accurate and readily accessible picture of an item’s journey at any point. You can also use your track-and-trace system to record the item’s chain of custody and stay aware at all times which of your personnel is responsible for the item. Today, satellite-based GPS, Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology, and advances in big data, data integration, and machine learning have become vital parts of track-and-trace solutions.

Track-and-trace processes are vital to ensuring consistency and completeness in your services, and form the backbone behind real-time tracking. Ultimately, whether used to track inbound freight or outbound freight, track-and-trace ensures that your shipping process moves smoothly, provides as few surprises as possible, and keep your client satisfied even when things don’t go smoothly. Track-and-trace is the key to planning, executing, and optimizing the movement of your products and materials between you, your clients, and the business partners who comprise your own supply chain.

What to look for in a real-time tracking supplier

Shipping and freight logistics are the key to running your business smoothly and efficiently, promoting business growth, and keeping your clients and customers satisfied. Your clients depend on you as part of their own supply chain as much as you depend on other businesses as part of your own. Real-time tracking on your part will help them run their businesses smoothly as much as it does yours.

Real-time freight tracking and track-and-trace are the keys to creating and acting on a strategy that will provide you with a competitive advantage in your industry. There are many platforms to choose from that integrate real-time tracking solutions into your business. Ask yourself when searching for a real-time tracking supplier how their solution will help you take the wealth of data they provide and turn it into actionable data for improving your processes and systems and growing your business over your competitors.

The right track-and-trace and real-time tracking solution should provide the following:

  • Actionable data: With all the data real-time freight tracking provides you, you should be able to clearly identify how you’re performing, what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong—instead of being lost in a sea of information.
  • Strategy development data: The data your real-time freight and shipment tracking solution provides should clearly demonstrate where exactly the roots of your efficiencies and inefficiencies are in your supply chain. With this data in hand, you can develop a clear plan to improve your operations.
  • Deployment strategy: Your solution for freight logistics and real-time tracking should empower you to expand your business, overtake your competitors, and create long-term value.
  • Robust carrier connectivity: Your real-time tracking platform should have a strong carrier network and a robust operation for onboarding new carriers and managing your existing carriers.
  • Seamless integration: It should be relatively pain-free to integrate your tracking platform with your existing core business systems such as your TMS, ERP, or CRM out-of-the-box.

A veteran in the transportation industry, Veltri Logistics is a freight brokerage group focused on providing our clients with all the support you need to help your supply chain run like clockwork. 

For over three generations we’ve brought our experience to bear to help our clients in agriculture, manufacturing, retail, postal, and high-value commodity industries manage their supply chains smoothly and deliver the excellent service to their clients we pride ourselves on. We go above and beyond for all of our partners to make sure your supply chain is a thriving part of your business.

Our freight carrier network and our technology work together to provide a robust, efficient, and easy-to-use real-time freight tracking solution with a wealth of actionable visibility solution data, an expert customer support team for monitoring shipping updates and carrier activities, and a simple carrier portal that provides convenient chain-of-custody for your freight shipments.

Let us handle the logistics, and you can handle making your business and your clients’ businesses grow.

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