From RFID to data-sharing, transparency is a massive benefit to supply chains, and freight handlers are getting on board. The IoT, once solely the tool of in-house inventory, has been steadily climbing on to share the ride with 3PL companies as a value-added service. The benefits don’t rest solely with recipient companies, either. Freight management teams are breathing a sigh of relief as many “unknowns” are now revealed as a matter of course, often with little to no human intervention necessary.

Where is My Freight?

The materials available for fulfillment and warehousing operations are changing the quality of results without interfering with established workflow. RFID tags, often incorporated into pre-made rolls of stickers, containers or boxes, are easily linked to the appropriate invoice or pick order with the pass of a scanner. The trucks, ships and other over-distance transport vehicles in service can be “wired in” to the IoT themselves, providing a steady stream of data that serves their home company and those of their clients. When the exact location of a shipment is only a click away, no time is wasted on phone calls and “just checking” emails, ensuring better efficiency throughout the entire supply chain.

Is My Freight Being Handled Correctly?

An important concern just behind location, freight that requires special handling can quickly turn into a nerve-wracking scenario for both sides. Whether it’s delicate components that can’t take jostling or specialty produce that demands a very specific temperature range, many freight handling companies have their work cut out for them. With container-integrated IoT-wired sensors, however, spot-checks are considerably easier to perform. In fact, properly calibrated, they’ll offer a level of informational transparency is established that’s clean enough to incorporate into end-user reports and promotional materials. The looming shade of liability and damaged freight shrinks very noticeably, and the quality of market-ready goods remains safeguarded and consistent.

Will This Help My Warehouse?

Inventory is a big pain point for non cross-docked warehouses. While storage can seem straightforward in planning stages, the “exceptions” – “…just sticking this pallet here until X happens,” or having to shift loads due to a shelving structure issue – quickly pile up and snarl up workflow. If goods are arriving pre-tethered to the IoT, you’ll avoid many of these problems from the start. Depending on the sophistication of the sensors used, inventory transparency can be as specific as pinpointing an item’s location within the warehouse or as broad as confirming receipt or mere presence of the freight. When armies of team members don’t have to venture into the warehouse armed with inventory scanners, there’s more operational time to pick, pack and hone efficiency elsewhere.

With low-cost IoT solutions and plenty of experience-based knowledge in trade publications to learn from, there’s no reason for a modern freight company to be entirely “analog.” Integration and automated reporting feed operational excellence and provide a steady stream of big data to analyze for maximum impact in the supply chain. Once a company taps into the power of IoT connections for their freight, everyone benefits, from manufacturers on through end consumers.

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