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Understanding Real-Time Logistics Visibility Benefits and Use Cases


Real-time logistics visibility provides valuable insights into supply chain operations. By tracking the location and status of products, materials, transport and shipments in real-time, companies gain increased control, efficiency, and responsiveness across their logistics networks. 

This technology empowers businesses to proactively manage issues, optimize routes, improve customer service, and reduce costs. For any company shipping products, real-time visibility brings transformational possibilities. This article explores the key benefits and use cases driving adoption across industries.

An Overview of Real-Time Logistics Visibility

Real-time logistics visibility refers to electronically tracking goods, assets, and shipments and viewing their states and locations as they move through the supply chain. Modern tracking technologies such as GPS, RFID, and IoT enable visibility into delivery progress, enabling issues like delays or damage to be identified quickly for rapid resolution. This level of end-to-end transparency optimizes operations efficiency and satisfaction for all parties.

Importance of Visibility in Supply Chain Management

Unpredictability in supply chains is a leading cause of poor customer experience and lost revenue. Visibility provides contextual awareness to manage demand versus supply strategically. It also aids contingency planning by identifying vulnerabilities. This empowers proactive problem-solving through facilitated communications across all functional silos operating complex international logistics systems.

Types of Real-Time Tracking Systems

Here are the types of real-time tracking systems

  • GPS devices: These small tracking units can be attached to trucks, containers, individual packages and other logistics assets. Using GPS satellites, they pinpoint the exact location of the asset and relay coordinates in real time.
  • RFID tags: Radio Frequency Identification tags are encoded with unique identifiers and fastened to items. When scanned by RFID readers, they provide inventory or shipment data without a direct line of sight. Items are conveniently scanned in bulk.
  • IoT sensors: Internet of Things sensors have capabilities beyond tracking location. Embedded in items, they can monitor environmental conditions like temperature, humidity, light exposure, vibrations, etc.
  • Wireless  networks: All the above systems employ wireless networks to transmit the captured data from tags/trackers to software platforms. Through WiFi, GPS satellites or cellular networks like 4G/5G, they provide real-time updates on a product or a shipment’s state as it moves through the supply chain and logistics process.
  • Mapping software: Centralized mapping applications visualize the spatial movement of assets, inventory, or shipments. Mapping optimizes transport mode, load capacity, route and automatically updates as conditions or circumstances alter. 

Key Benefits of Real-Time Visibility

Real-time tracking provides versatile advantages:

1. Enhanced Transparency

Complete transparency is achieved through shared tracking capabilities. With real-time updates on a shipment’s location and progress, all parties involved – from customers to suppliers to internal teams – maintain the same situational awareness. They can see precisely where a load is at any given time. This level of transparency also allows for more accurate estimated arrival times to be provided since the movement of shipments can be monitored as it happens. Moreover, the mode transportation tracking becomes quite beneficial.

2. Improved Efficiency

Real-time visibility further improves operational efficiency in significant ways. Dynamic routing optimization software can plan the most efficient routes for drivers or trucks based on real-world factors like live traffic conditions or road closures. Warehouse space and transportation assets are utilized more effectively when inventory levels and incoming freight are centrally visible. This aids load planning.

3. Risk Management

Risk management is strengthened with real-time tracking capabilities. Chokepoints where delays regularly occur due to congestion or other infrastructure limitations can be anticipated in advanced through contingency planning and avoided via alternate routing strategies. If unpredicted disruptive events like extreme weather impact regular routes, shipments can be dynamically guided along backup paths to avoid greater delays or asset damage.

4. Cost Reduction

Cost reduction can be achieved through real-time visibility in several ways. Having greater confidence in projected inventory needs and estimated shipment lead times due to real-time tracking allows companies to reduce excess safety stock levels. This ties up less capital unnecessarily. Optimal routing determined from current traffic conditions and rerouting abilities when issues arise also helps lower fuel costs by minimizing additional mileage and travel times for transport vehicles. Shrinkage, the term for lost, stolen or damaged shipments, is better controlled with improved visibility into asset movements. This supports recovery of lost loads while also aiding the prevention of such costly outcomes through prompt issue response.

5. Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction increases significantly with real-time tracking. Providing customers with reliable estimated delivery windows boosts their fulfillment experience. This is made possible by monitoring transit progress. Any delays can also be promptly communicated to assure customers through alerts. Real-time proof of in-transit deliveries via shared tracking inspires confidence that orders will arrive on time as promised. The transparency builds trust in committed delivery timelines and the entire fulfillment process. This high quality of customer service can potentially strengthen brand loyalty and advocacy over the long run.

6. Security & Quality Controls

Importantly for time, quality, temperature, movement or value sensitive goods real time visibility enhances security and monitors the condition of the goods. Combined with anti-tamper devices businesses with real-time alerts security of goods alleviates excess costs for insurance and allows for modified international letters of credit & associated costs for example. 

Use Cases of Real-Time Visibility

1. Wall Drug Store is a retailer based in South Dakota that sees high seasonality, with much larger volumes during peak season. To optimize operations in their distribution centers during their busy periods, they leveraged RFID tags on pallets and cases of inventory. This provided real-time visibility of stock locations, which streamlined the order-picking process. It also enabled maximized storage of inventory with dynamic stacking in the facility. The efforts boosted productivity and ensured the timely fulfillment of increased orders.

2. Benetech is a major automotive components manufacturer. At their seating factories, they implemented real-time tracking of work-in-process inventory using IoT sensors integrated with their ERP system. This allowed perfectly balanced just-in-time production flows by maintaining optimal raw material levels for each workstation. It also instantly alerted managers to potential delays if inventory ran short, ensuring minimal disruptions to lean manufacturing schedules. The visibility improvements helped maximize efficiency, throughput, and vehicle production speed.

3.  Global Corporation is a global healthcare logistics provider shipping various medical supplies and temperature-sensitive drugs worldwide. They equip these shipments with GPS trackers to monitor location and ensure storage conditions are appropriately controlled throughout transit. Customers are automatically notified if anomalies occur, such as excursions outside of required temperature ranges. This regulatory compliance feature maintains product quality integrity and prevents costly product recalls or rejections at destinations

4. Nokia consigns all of its high-value cellphones with a unique ID. Consolidated shipments with up to 100,000 phones are able to be scanned at each and every gateway validating and checking off each transit point. Secure networks for valuable shipments reduces insurance costs, eliminates attrition and ensures goods arrive at wholesalers and retailers warehouses in factory condition.

Leveraging Logilink for Success

Implementing a real-time logistics visibility solution delivers substantial competitive advantages through operational efficiencies, cost savings and improved customer experiences.  For organizations seeking to realize these benefits, Logilink offers a comprehensive, integrated platform to streamline operations while extracting valuable customer and supply chain insights. 

Their powerful shipping platform, tracking options and unique configurable finance modules provide end-to-end visibility from order to delivery. Companies can turn data into actionable intelligence to optimize performance and strengthen relationships by partnering with an experienced provider like Logilink. 

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