Pallet tracking and real-time visibility
Pallet tracking and maintaining real-time visibility are important for businesses and logistics providers. Logistics providers can seamlessly and efficiently monitor the distribution process with different technologies available, offering many benefits.
Importance of tracking pallets
Pallets form a crucial part of the supply chain, meaning tracking and monitoring is vital for supply chain and pallet storage efficiency. Not only can tracking and monitoring the distribution of pallets improve business processes, but it also helps minimise disruptions and unexpected losses.
As an important method for storing and transporting goods, businesses can quickly move and transport large quantities across multiple locations. However, pallets can go missing or easily disappear without sufficient tracking and monitoring systems.
Without this smooth flow of goods, businesses face supply chain uncertainty and unnecessary setbacks. The cost of damaged, missing, or stolen goods, alongside the effects on customers, can negatively affect the reputation of any business.
The misplacement or missing pallets is one of the most significant factors that slow down the supply chain and can cause a shortage of items necessary for smooth operations. Real-time tracking and visibility can help reduce the disruptions, setbacks, and costs of missing pallets.
While pallet tracking may be more advantageous to industries such as pharmaceuticals and food, all industries can benefit from a level of monitoring. Effective tracking and monitoring systems can optimise shipments, reduce delays, and ensure timely delivery.
Improved customer service can also be a benefit of monitoring pallets. Ensuring delivery in a suitable condition and on time can improve customer satisfaction. The environmental conditions throughout the pallet distribution process can also be monitored for item safety and compliance.
Technology for pallet tracking
Pallet-tracking technology has come a long way in recent years. Gone are the days of using pen and paper to monitor pallet shipments carefully. Technology is crucial in speedier monitoring processes and improving supply chain efficiency to minimise pallet distribution challenges.
GPS (or Global Positioning System) is a widely used method of navigating and tracking positions. Used in many places, GPS can also successfully monitor and track the pallet distribution processes. Positions can be easily monitored using a combination of satellites, a receiver, and an algorithm.
GPS systems utilise trilateration, sending data and signals to three satellites. A fourth is used, however, for validation. To monitor the position, a GPS device must be able to connect and receive signals successfully and accurately from all four satellite devices.
There are many benefits of using GPS in tracking and monitoring pallets. Firstly, it is easy to track and monitor the precise location of a pallet shipment throughout the entire distribution process. Monitoring journeys is also made easier using GPS tracking.
Exact positioning, ease of monitoring, and vehicle tracking are all additional benefits of using GPS. However, there are some disadvantages to using GPS too. If a strong enough signal cannot be achieved with the four satellites, location data may be inaccurate,
Signal failure can also be common, particularly for devices that run on battery power. Obstacles, such as buildings, can also interfere with the GPS signal. GPS signals also have difficulty with solid walls, causing a connection drop.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of interrelated devices for connecting and exchanging data. Data is sent quickly between devices within the IoT network, including storing and transmitting data via the cloud. Transmitting and accessing data is easier across devices in an IoT network.
IoT networks have become increasingly popular due to their efficiency and operational benefits. Data can easily be transmitted throughout the network without direct interactions. Any device that connects to an Internet Protocol (IP) can be in an IoT network.
One of the most significant benefits of using an IoT network for pallet tracking is improved operational efficiency. Implementing IoT in a pallet distribution network can automate specific processes, including transferring and storing pallet tracking data.
IoT devices can also seamlessly collect and receive data from other connected devices, reducing the number of repetitive tasks that a human would otherwise carry out. Automation control can also extend across multiple operational areas throughout the distribution process.
IoT devices incorporated into a vehicle’s fleet can also automatically provide information, including vehicle location, fuel consumption, and speed. Such data can help with route optimisation by choosing the quickest way to deliver goods using the best route.
Effective route optimisation not only speeds up pallet distribution but also helps cut down on costs. Reducing fuel consumption and carefully monitoring vehicle usage can help minimise overheads for logistics agents. There is also an increased security risk, alongside data and privacy concerns.
However, there are also some drawbacks to using IoT networks. The first drawback to IoT is the dependence on an active internet connection. All devices with the network must maintain an internet connection to upload, transmit, or receive data.
Barcodes are another method of tracking and monitoring pallets throughout the distribution process and are one of the earliest methods of tracking and monitoring. Still one of the most widely used methods, barcode scanning is easy to implement and cost-effective.
Compared to the other methods, barcode scanning requires manual scanning. As such, pallets need to be scanned at close range. Scanning devices can also only handle one barcode at a time, affecting the speed of operations.
However, barcodes can save time compared to manual tracking and monitoring data entry. Scanning a barcode is much easier than writing down data for each pallet. Manual data can lead to mistakes or errors. Scanning a barcode is less likely to result in an error.
Despite this, there are still some downsides to using barcodes, alongside the limited range. Most readers struggle to successful scan complex barcodes. Barcodes that become obstructed or covered can also be challenging to read. Scanning devices can also face connectivity issues.
Benefits of enhanced visibility in supply chain management
By implementing the above pallet tracking and real-time visibility options, supply chains can benefit from improved operations, better efficiency, and greater visibility throughout the supply chain. Here are the benefits of enhanced visibility in supply chain management:
- Improve the speed and efficiency of processes
- Minimise interruptions and disruptions
- Meet customer demands and improve service quality
- Greater accuracy and customer service
- Operate continuous improvement for improving workflows
- Grow processes and operations using data-driven results
- Reduce costs and mitigate distribution or shipping errors
With different methods for effectively monitoring pallets, logistics providers can quickly improve and expand their operations. Such systems can benefit businesses and logistics providers through streamlined processes, operational efficiency, and reduced costs.
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