Commentary: How live data is revolutionizing shipping logistics

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates. 

To a large extent, shipping and logistics is still in the dark ages, at least when it comes to tracking what happens to a shipment during the transit time between, for example, the manufacturer and the warehouse. If your shipping is damaged in transit, how do you know what happened to it and when?

The answer is to use a shock and impact recorder. Vibrational, shock and impact data can help the freight transport industry make huge improvements to shipping logistics. The new generation of shock recorders allows shippers to track the stresses their shipments face in real time using Internet of Things (IoT)-connected impact recorders. Live data brings a whole new level of visibility to shipping and logistics, and it’s only going to get better.

How shock recorders work

There are a variety of shock and impact recorders on the market. Most shock recorders work via cellular networks and GPS to send vibration, impact and shock data in real-time. These devices can be attached to a shipping container or pallet, or put inside a box, and they will tell you whether your items have been dropped and how hard, how much vibrational stress they’ve been subject to, and at what points in transit they have been subject to stress.

(Photo credit: SpotSee)

See how packages are handled and mishandled

In a perfect world, all of your shipments would be handled with the utmost care and attention throughout the shipping process. But we don’t live in a perfect world; we live in a world in which some deliveries of new TVs are carelessly dropped over fences. At all parts of the shipping process, goods are subject to carelessness. 

It might not be that the people handling your shipments truly don’t care what happens to the contents. Accidents and mistakes happen, especially in shipping. But impact and vibrational data can tell you what happened and when and where it happened, so if a particular link on your chain is responsible for a lot of your shipping damage, you can make adjustments as needed.

(Photo credit: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Make adjustments to shipping processes, streamline insurance claims, and more

There are a range of options to meet every need for live data tracking in shipping and logistics, and the visibility that live data provides can help you adjust your shipping processes to reduce or eliminate damage to your shipments. You can use data about stress and vibrations in transit to make changes to your shipping route so that shipments aren’t routed across a particularly bad stretch of road, for example. It doesn’t end with shock recorders, either. You can use smart, refrigerated shipping containers to monitor temperature control for consumables in transit, so you’ll know whether foodstuffs or pharmaceuticals have remained at a safe temperature and you’ll be alerted when they leave that temperature range for any reason. 

You can also use impact data to make changes to how you package items for shipment. No longer will shipping and logistics personnel be forced to wrap their shipments up as well as possible and hope for the best. You’ll have live data about what stresses and impacts your items are facing, and which ones are damaging them, so you can adjust shipping packaging accordingly.

(Photo credit: Flickr/-Joseph B-)

Shipments are usually covered by insurance, but it can be hard to get a claim paid when you don’t know exactly when, where and how the damage occurred. Live data solves this problem. From now on, live data technologies will allow you to prove that a drop or other mishandling has occurred because it will log that data in real time, even when it’s out of range of coverage. That’s especially valuable for transoceanic shipments, which have been traditionally difficult to track, but it’s also meaningful for land shipments where cellular signals can be intermittent, too.

The more visibility you can get into your shipping process, the better. Shock recorders and other live data trackers are revolutionizing shipping by giving shipping and logistics professionals an unprecedented level of visibility into the shipping process. Now, you can see exactly what stresses, impact, and mishandling your shipments undergo so you can take steps to address them. With that information, you can make more shipments arrive in one piece, file more insurance claims and win more happy customers.