Intermodal transportation is widely recognized as one of the most environmentally sustainable modes for freight transport. However, despite its superior sustainability, logistics managers have not always been convinced to choose it due to certain inherent drawbacks, including unpredictability, potential product damage, and the risk of theft. Nevertheless, the landscape is evolving, and recent developments suggest a shift in perception towards intermodal transport.
In this article, we will explore the top three ways that real-time inventory visibility enhances intermodal shipping operations, leading to improved efficiency, reduced risks, and enhanced customer satisfaction.
What Is Intermodal Shipping?
Intermodal shipping refers to the transportation of freight using multiple modes of transportation, such as rail, road, sea, or air, within a single journey. It involves the movement of shipping containers or trailers that can be easily transferred between different modes of transport without the need to handle the contents of the container itself.
In intermodal shipping, cargo is typically loaded into standardized containers or trailers at the point of origin. These containers are designed to be easily transferable between different transportation modes, allowing for seamless movement across various logistics networks. For example, a shipment might start by truck, then be transferred to a train for long-distance travel, and finally loaded onto a ship for an overseas leg of the journey
How to create Real-time Inventory Visibility using RFID Tracking?
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology is a powerful tool for achieving real-time inventory visibility in various industries, including logistics and supply chain management. RFID enables the automatic identification and tracking of items using radio waves, allowing for seamless and accurate inventory monitoring throughout the supply chain.
RFID Tags consist of a microchip and an antenna that can store and transmit data. These tags can be attached to individual products, shipping containers, or pallets, depending on the level of granularity desired for inventory tracking.
One can use RFID tags to communicate wirelessly with RFID readers or scanners, which can be strategically placed at different points in the supply chain, such as warehouses, distribution centers, or transportation hubs. The readers capture the unique identifier of each RFID tag within their range, enabling real-time data collection without requiring physical contact or line of sight. By using RFID technology, inventory movements can be automatically recorded and updated in real-time. As tagged items pass by RFID readers, their presence and location are instantly recorded, providing a continuous and accurate view of inventory levels and movements throughout the supply chain.
Moreover, RFID-based real-time inventory visibility minimizes manual data entry errors and reduces the time and effort required for traditional inventory counts. With automated and precise tracking, inventory accuracy is significantly improved, leading to better demand forecasting, optimized stock levels, and reduced instances of stockouts or overstocking. Logistics managers can quickly identify and resolve issues such as shipment delays, inventory discrepancies, or bottlenecks, minimizing disruptions and enhancing overall operational efficiency.
Enhancing Transit Predictability and Service with Instant Access to Accurate Location Data
In the context of transportation and logistics, instant access to accurate location data plays a crucial role in enhancing transit predictability and service quality. Real-time tracking systems, businesses can gain valuable insights into the whereabouts of their assets. Real-time location data enables businesses to accurately estimate the arrival time of shipments. By continuously tracking the progress of goods in transit, logistics managers can provide customers with more reliable and precise delivery timeframes. This enhanced predictability allows for better planning, scheduling, and coordination, improving overall customer satisfaction.
Moreover, instant access to accurate location data empowers logistics managers to proactively address potential issues or delays. If a shipment veers off its intended route or experiences unexpected delays, real-time tracking alerts can be triggered, allowing for prompt intervention. With the ability to identify and resolve problems in a timely manner, businesses can mitigate disruptions, minimize transit times, and maintain service levels.
Not to mention that real-time location data enables logistics managers to optimize resource allocation and utilization. By knowing the exact location of vehicles, warehouses, or other assets, businesses can make informed decisions regarding the allocation of resources such as trucks, drivers, or storage space. This optimization leads to improved operational efficiency, reduced idle time, and better utilization of available capacity.
Accurate location data provides comprehensive supply chain visibility. Businesses can track goods throughout the entire logistics network, from origin to destination, and gain insights into each stage of the transportation process. This visibility allows for better coordination between different stakeholders, facilitating seamless handovers between transportation modes and minimizing disruptions.
Real-time visibility technology helps logistics leaders improve sustainability throughout intermodal shipping operations by:
Reducing the Risk of Damage with Shock and Trigger Alerts
Real-Time inventory tracking using both GPS (Global Positioning System) and RFID sensors systems can reduce the risk of damage is a critical objective in transportation and logistics operations. One effective approach to achieve this is by utilizing shock and trigger alerts. That is, shock alerts utilize sensors or accelerometers to detect sudden impacts or jolts experienced by goods during transit. These sensors are often integrated into packaging or attached directly to the cargo. When a significant impact occurs, the sensors immediately trigger an alert, notifying logistics managers or relevant stakeholders about the event.
By receiving immediate notifications through shock alerts, logistics managers can promptly respond to potential damage situations. They can investigate the cause of the impact, assess the extent of damage, and take appropriate measures to prevent further harm. Timely intervention can include rearranging cargo, inspecting packaging integrity, or addressing any issues related to handling or securing the goods.
Not all damages are visible upon initial inspection. Some impacts or vibrations can cause internal or hidden damage that may go unnoticed until it manifests later in the supply chain or reaches the end customer. Shock alerts help in identifying such incidents, ensuring that necessary actions are taken to prevent potential quality issues or customer dissatisfaction.
Logistics can identify patterns or recurring issues related to impacts and damage by analyzing the real-time data on shipping and inventory movement. This analysis provides insights into potential weaknesses in the supply chain, such as inadequate packaging, improper handling procedures, or problematic routes. With this information, improvements can be implemented to mitigate risks and enhance the overall safety and quality of goods in transit.
In case of any damage claims or disputes, the recorded impact events and corresponding alerts serve as evidence to support or defend claims. Accurate documentation helps identify the responsible parties and facilitates smoother resolution processes.
Alleviating the Risk of Theft with Location Tracking and Light Alerts
Alleviating the risk of theft is a critical aspect of transportation and logistics operations. Location tracking and light alerts can be effective in mitigating this risk. By utilizing GPS or other tracking technologies, logistics managers can monitor the precise location of shipments throughout the transportation process. Real-time location tracking provides visibility and enables timely intervention in case of any suspicious activities or deviations from planned routes. It allows for proactive measures to be taken, such as alerting authorities or dispatching security personnel to address potential theft situations promptly.
Geofencing is a virtual boundary created around specific geographic areas. By setting up geofences along the route or designated locations, logistics managers can receive alerts if the shipment deviates from the intended path or enters restricted areas. Geofencing helps in identifying unauthorized movements, deterring theft attempts, and triggering immediate responses to mitigate risks.
Light alerts or tamper-proof features integrated into packaging or containers can act as deterrents and provide immediate visual cues of potential theft attempts. Light alerts can be activated if the package or container is opened or tampered with, drawing attention to the unauthorized access. These features serve as visible indicators to logistics personnel, security teams, or even bystanders, helping to prevent theft and ensuring swift action in response to any unauthorized entry.
Location tracking and light alerts support the implementation of robust security protocols. Logistics managers can develop comprehensive security strategies, including secure parking areas, enhanced surveillance systems, or tracking devices with tamper-proof mechanisms. By integrating location tracking and light alerts into existing security measures, the risk of theft can be significantly reduced, providing a greater sense of security throughout the transportation process.
In the unfortunate event of theft, real-time location tracking becomes invaluable in assisting authorities with locating stolen goods. The precise location information can be shared with law enforcement agencies, facilitating faster recovery efforts. Additionally, light alerts and tamper-proof features help in identifying the point of theft, aiding investigations, and strengthening future security measures.
Where to start if you think Real-Time Inventory Visibility can help you
The most appropriate place to start is to reevaluate your business processes and identify opportunities to implement advanced tracking technologies. The implementation of RFID Tracking and GPS tracking can provide real-time inventory visibility, which in turn enhances intermodal shipping operations, leading to improved efficiency, reduced risks, and enhanced customer satisfaction.
Our Outdoor RFID Tracking – RTLS Tracking – consisting of real-time tracking using GPS and RFID software has assisted Logistics and Continuous improvement to maximize business efficiencies and generate higher data visibility for their Supply Chain operations.
Contact us today to learn more.