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Connecting Logistics with IoT: How to Track and Secure Freight

For a long time, Connected Logistics with near real-time tracking of shipments seemed to be unattainable. However, with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), Connected Logistics is now possible and affordable.

This article lists the six key features you should consider when choosing technology for Connected Logistics.

1. Freight Tracking

There are several location acquisition technologies, with GPS being the most prevalent. Even though it is quite popular, GPS has a few limitations: it only works outdoors in the open air, it cannot track up to centimeters, and it is power hungry. Another common tracking technology is RFID, but, similar to GPS, it has limitations that don’t make it ideal for today’s logistics.

Modern IoT technologies, like Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons, Sigfox (Ultra Narrowband), LoRaWAN,  NBIoT (Narrowband), and 6LoWPAN (IPV6 over Low-Power Wireless Personal Network), are less power hungry, more accurate, bidirectional, and less costly. To choose the best IoT tracking technology for your application, it is important to determine the goal of the tracking while considering power efficiency, cost of implementation, total cost of ownership, and availability.

2. Communicating Location

Unless you are using an IoT technology like Sigfox or LoRaWAN for communication, you need an internal data communication system. GPRS (2G) is the most commonly used communication technology today. Although, 4G is becoming increasingly popular because its price is coming down rapidly, so it may be suitable and affordable if your application needs better performance than 2G.

If you have to track shipments out of telecom network zones, like the deep sea, you will need to use satellite technologies. But, be aware that satellite communication is costly, and it requires licenses, so it’s generally avoided unless absolutely necessary.

If you need to transmit data from multiple shipments traveling together over a single wireless network, you should use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

3. Shipment Protection

Supply chain managers, asset owners, and logistics professionals are always on their toes to see if their cargo is arriving on time, but they also want to know if their assets are safe and secure. To ensure safety, you can attach new smart electronic locks to your cargo shipments that enable you to monitor lock tampering. In addition, electronic locks ensure that the owner of the goods is always informed when their cargo container is opened and prevent anyone without proper authorization from opening the lock.

4. Environmental Monitoring

From vehicle diagnostics to environmental monitoring, everything can now be integrated into a single tracking device. With IoT tracking technology, you can check the temperature, humidity, if the door is opened or closed, if light is entering, and pressure on a single visual platform. In addition, you can get alerts whenever these values cross a defined threshold, and sensors can now connect with the tracking and communication system, wired or wirelessly.

5. Power Source

Before, you had to attach a GPS tracker to a vehicle battery to power it. With improvements in batteries and the arrival of low-power IoT technologies, tracking systems now come with their own internal battery that can run for months on a single charge. Solar power is also becoming more economical, and there is a growing number of IoT tracking devices that support it. Solar-powered devices can run for a very long time, without replacing or recharging batteries.

6. Actionable Intelligence

It is important to choose an IoT platform that makes it easy to view and analyze data so you can make informed decisions. The solution you choose should be able to provide actionable intelligence like geo-fences where the loading and unloading of cargo are authorized, the most optimized travel routes, route deviations, estimated time of arrival (ETA), and environmental monitoring data from an easy-to-use dashboard. Additionally, the IoT tracking system needs to support all of the connections in your application to work for you.

Conclusion

Connected Logistics gives you complete control of your assets and prevents unpleasant surprises during shipment. To take full advantage of this technology, choose an IoT-enabled tracking solution.

If you’re not sure which IoT tracking solution is right for you, call Black Box. One of our IoT experts will be happy to help you find the system that fully supports your application.

To learn more about Black Box’s GPS freight tracking solution JIDO, visit black-box.eu/JIDO.

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