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How Industrial Companies Can Use Geolocation To Improve Logistics Management

With ESL as a geolocation tool, companies can improve their operations better than ever before.

Most industry verticals of today have evolved from merely engaging in local commerce, to a wider and more global marketplace. Advancements in transportation and communication technologies played a big part in this evolution, allowing brands, products, and services to reach bigger markets beyond geographical boundaries, and even on a global scale.

In this scenario, industrial companies are not confined to engaging in business only within their localities. They can now engage in markets outside of their cities and states, run nationwide sales and marketing programs nationwide, or even break new grounds in the international arena. They can now establish remote sites or local branches in different cities, all interconnected to their main headquarters or central logistics center.

This is where it gets complicated. Before a product reaches an end customer, it may have to cross multiple borders in order to get to its intended destination. This is a typical scenario for online stores or enterprises that have both physical stores and eCommerce sites. Products may move from manufacturing or assembly sites, to the central logistics center, and to the local distribution center.

Electronic shelf labels in an industrial factory

The bigger the market and scale of reach, the more complex the supply chain and logistics management will be. Lacking clear visibility of product movements and other critical information can lead to serious delivery mishaps that could spell disaster for the business as a whole. Without clear and accurate visibility of the supply chain is akin to being blind to what goes on with the business.

The emergence of innovative digital technologies, however, that span across multiple industries and verticals and markets, is changing the way how logistics management works. Technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud Computing, and Geolocation are revolutionizing the way logistics and the supply chain are handled and managed.

This article focuses on Geolocation and how industrial companies can leverage the many features and advantages it can provide to improve and optimize logistics management and supply chain operations.

What Geolocation Means

The Greek word “logistike” from where the term “logistics” was derived was originally intended to refer to “calculating” until a more modern interpretation transformed it into the “art of supplying warfare”. The military application however is closer to what people understand logistics in the modern sense.

Geolocation on the other hand refers to a technology that can identify the location of a geographical area, an object, or an asset, using associated gadgets or devices, with the process done in real-time. There are gadgets and equipment that can identify geolocation like GPS trackers and similar devices. Smartphones and other modern mobile devices are also equipped with geolocation features. Then there are internet-connected appliances powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

Industrial tablet showing virtual locations and information about products

The ability to track down assets in real-time can be a great boon to logistics and supply chain management. Assets can be products or packages, containers holding these products/packages, and the transportation tool or vehicle moving these products/packages from one location to another. This technology will enable them to track down these assets, whether they are safely kept in a warehouse, or halfway across the globe via air, land, or sea.

The Benefits of Geolocation for Logistics Management

Geolocation is revolutionizing the way transportation, supply chain, and logistics are being handled across various businesses or industry verticals. Aside from the hundreds of phone calls and the lengthy, manually-accomplished, reports that logistics managers have to endure on a daily basis, geolocation could prove to be a very valuable tool to make like easier for logistics management.

  • Optimum Fleet Management and Operations

Whether your business runs through physical stores, or through online channels, or even both, fleet operations and management play a crucial part in ensuring that clients receive the products they ordered at the right time and at the right conditions. Geolocation makes it possible for logistics managers to keep track of each and every product and vehicle deployed from your distribution centers. Two-way communication is also possible with these technologies, allowing fleet managers to communicate with drivers in real-time to execute necessary changes to the routes or destinations as necessary.

Logistics employee working in front of hauling trucks

  • Optimized Allocation and Use of Resources

Before geolocation and GPS technologies were made available, companies needed to invest in manpower whose primary function is to track down vehicles, product movements, statistics, etc. These were all done manually so imagine the number of valuable resources allocated for this purpose alone. With geolocation, these processes are now streamlined or even automated, allowing logistics managers to re-allocate manpower and resources to other departments.

  • Real-Time Location-Tracking of Goods

Tracking goods and assets in real-time has a lot of advantages. You can easily provide customers with accurate information regarding orders and deliveries using GPS and geolocation technologies. But aside from simply knowing the whereabouts of goods, geolocation can also prevent the occurrence of theft and other losses. “Geofences” is another technology that can be integrated into the system. The “fences” term in the word refers to pre-determined boundary areas. Once the vehicle or asset goes beyond this specified area, an alert and notification are sent to the monitoring center, and appropriate actions and executed.

Virtual display showing an out-of-stock status

  • Increase Logistics Efficiency and Productivity

With an optimized process for product and asset handling and workflows, the overall logistics operations will definitely increase in efficiency and productivity. Rapidly locating and deploying assets saves time, fuel, equipment, and manpower resources, allowing the whole operations to accommodate more transactions without a loss in the quality of service. Risks and costly errors are avoided as well.

  • Enhance Drivers’ Performance and Safety

In fleet and logistics operations, drivers and other delivery personnel stand at the backbone of the whole operations. This is why it is very important for logistics managers to ensure the safety and well-being of these employees. Geolocation not only will let managers know the whereabouts of their employees in real time, they can also generate insights about deviation on routes, stalled movements, or increase in speeds which they can communicate and act upon with.

GPS system in a truck dashboard

  • Provide Excellent Customer Service and Experience to Clients

With optimum logistics operations in place, it would be no wonder if your business can deliver excellent quality customer service as well. The many features of geolocation, like real-time tracking and accurate delivery time notices, can give better services and overall user experience to your customers.

Geolocation Technologies You Can Use for Logistics Management

The following provides an overview of the many technologies associated with geolocation that you can use to improve and optimize your logistics operations and management.

  • Global Positioning System (GPS)

Invented initially with the intent for military use, GPS technologies have evolved through the years and are now readily made available in standalone gadgets, mobile devices, or IoT appliances. With these receivers or devices on hand, you can easily receive geolocation as well as time information.

More and more devices are being equipped with GPS systems, and the accuracies and efficiencies of these systems keep improving on a continuous basis. With such systems, it would be easier and much more efficient for logistics managers to track down any asset, whatever their location maybe, 24 hours a day, whatever weather conditions they may find themselves in – from any location in the world.

  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

Bluetooth has been around for some time and has been used extensively for personal and commercial applications, connecting gadgets and devices with paraphernalia and other enabled components or appliances. Its latest iteration, Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE is gaining ground for geolocation and positioning applications. BLE Beacons can work at both indoor and outdoor applications and is a cheaper and less energy-consuming alternative.

  • Wi-Fi-based Geolocation

Wi-Fi has been used extensively in telecommunications, allowing people to communicate over a wireless local area network (WLAN) using standard radio frequencies of 2.4GHz or Sub-Giga. Wi-Fi positioning can now be harnessed for geolocation, allowing your logistics resources to make use of thousands of Wi-Fi networks to determine and provide location information. The use of multiple RF technologies is a boon to logistics operations, as in the case of Electronic Shelf Label (ESL) systems like the ones provided by SOLUM.

SOLUM ESL in an industrial shelf

  • Cellular Network-based Geolocation

Similar to Wi-Fi networks, geolocation can also rely on a service provider’s network infrastructure, through network triangulation. This geolocation technology makes use of the least technology but is dependent on the accuracy of the network’s base stations available in a particular geographic location.

Take for example some geographical locations where your fleets or logistics team may need to pass through. The more base stations available in that location, the better the accuracy that your geolocation systems can harness these network-based systems.

  • Internet of Things (IoT) Enables Tracking Devices

New advancements in IoT technologies are bringing about even better changes in logistics and supply chain operations and management. One example is the use of IoT Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) makes use of low power IoT-enabled tracking devices for geolocation. It is able to communicate with any connected devices without the need to use purely dedicated, and costly, standalone trackers.

IoT technologies consume less power and can communicate, interact with, and locate assets. It can monitor and track goods on shelves indoors via interaction with the Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL) systems via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or RFID, or through GPS and LPWAN when the assets are being moved outdoors.

There are still more emerging geolocation technologies that will be of great use to logistics and supply chain management in the near future. These technologies can be used as stand-alone systems and can provide you with sufficient geolocation applications.

However, you can get even better and more accurate performances from these gadgets and systems when used in combination with other technologies. Combined with other innovative systems and technologies, these solutions will provide not only smart and accurate tracking of assets but can also provide greater insights into your logistics operations that can help you grow your business.

The Take Away

Logistics operations and management is a very crucial part of any industry vertical that can spell the success or failure of the business. Several industrial companies have struggled to optimize their logistics and supply chain operations using outdated or manually-driven systems and workflows. With advancements in technologies like geolocation used in conjunction with other innovative solutions like the Internet of Things (IoT) and Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL), industrial companies are now in a much better position to harness these technologies and improve their logistics management.

Modernize your logistics management and take your industrial operations to the next level with SOLUM ESL. Contact us today to learn more.

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