Achieving in-transit visibility in complex supply chains

In-transit visibility in supply chains

It’s no longer a question of ‘if’, but ‘how’. No matter which industry you’re in, tracking your goods to their destination has become a necessity of doing business. Uncertain arrival dates, shipment quantities or good conditions are no longer acceptable at the pace of business today.

In-transit visibility lets you:

  1. Respond to shipment delays, particularly of critical parts.
  2. Manage your inventory across locations.
  3. Gain visibility into the quality of the shipment. You may want to ensure a container didn’t fall, or
    temperature and humidity were maintained throughout the route.
  4. Prevent theft or loss, a more common problem than you would expect!

So how do you track your goods in transit? Through multiple vendors and vehicles? Let’s take a container for example. It could leave your factory on a truck, move to a dock, get uploaded to a ship, reach another dock, move to a train, and into a warehouse for final distribution. That single – fairly simple – supply chain could contain 6 different shipping partners, each with their own tracking and systems.

Supply chain orchestration

In many supply chains, a single sensor won’t be enough. You may have more specific data needs, or choose to use several sensors rather than one, depending on the type of goods moving.

Another common use case is working with several large airlines, shipping or train providers, where each has its own API of schedules and real-time arrival information.

In both of these cases, you need an orchestration platform. Orchestration allows you to ingest and use data from any source, in any format. This includes any type of sensor, as well as any type of system API. Another key feature of orchestration platforms is that they offer very flexible configuration capabilities, so that you minimize the need to code (and the engineering resources) and can build projects faster.

An orchestration platform will create a unified application from all the disparate data sources, allowing you to create the same set of useful rules and alerts across the broad data sources.

  • Estimate whether your goods will move on time by analyzing the route across different providers.
  • Correlate data from several different sensor types, even if they use different data structures and protocols.
  • Create dashboards and send alerts to the correct personnel in your organization, creating multi-tenant hierarchies based on department, location or any other parameter.

ROI Considerations

While IoT technology is available and ready for in-transit visibility, each organization still needs to determine how to deploy it profitably, with a positive ROI.

We see our most successful customer deploying in transit visibility in a gradual rollout. Each phase is small and doesn’t consume many resources. If you choose a platform that allows you to extend sensors and business logic flexibly, you can gradually grow your supply chain monitoring application and maintain profitability at the same time. Each ‘mini project’ is easy to budget for and incorporate into your existing workflow, and full visibility is only a few cycles away.

Another factor that will impact your ROI is the use of expensive engineering resources. When you choose a configurable platform, you can significantly reduce the cost of developing an IoT application.

Evaluating IoT platforms? Download this free eBook with top questions to ask before making a decision.

Want to learn more about the Axonize IoT orchestration platform? Schedule your deep-dive demo here.

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