Shipping and logistics offer plenty of opportunities to cut costs and improve operations — all you have to do is use the right equipment. And, these days, that means using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to keep track of shipments as they move through the supply chain.
But RFID technology isn’t just for watching where shipments go as they make their way to their destinations. When you use RFID tracking to monitor your shipments and check them in and out of inventory, you can isolate conditions that result in shipping damage or delays and mitigate them, as well as reducing your labor expenses and streamlining processes.
Isolate the Causes of Shipping Damage
Damage and loss are just two causes of shrinkage in the supply chain, alongside fraud, theft, and process errors. RFID tracking tags can help mitigate all of these causes of inventory loss in the supply chain, so that more of your expected profits can be realized.
How can RFID tracking mitigate shipping damage? Well, RFID tags can help you pinpoint exactly where in the supply chain your shipments are sustaining damage, and they can even provide insight as to how.
RFID tracking tags can contain a wealth of data about the shipment they’re attached to or embedded in, including accurate invoice and bill of lading data. These tags make it easy to inventory shipments, because RFID readers don’t need to be pointed directly at the RFID tags, like barcode readers do, and they don’t even need to be within a certain distance of the tags — again, unlike barcode readers. And many RFID tracking tags are equipped to do more than simply broadcast shipment data to a nearby RFID reader. Many contain additional sensors, like shock and impact recorders, vibration sensors, GPS tags, and temperature monitors.
These additional sensors are invaluable in helping shipping logistics professionals isolate the causes of shipping damage. Shock and impact recorders can reveal any drops, falls, or other shocks or impacts that could have damaged shipment contains — and they can even collect data about where these shocks and impacts happened along the route. That way, you can know which carrier is responsible for allowing your crate of very sensitive medical testing equipment to, as it were, fall off the truck. You might even be able to narrow down some GPS coordinates indicating where the shipment fell off the truck, and data about how long it sat in the road before the driver realized and came back for it.
Vibration monitors are similar. They can tell you whether one shipping method, such as ground freight, subjects shipments to more unacceptable vibrational stress than others, like air freight. These detectors can monitor which sections of a route are the roughest going, so you can route your trucks around the section of highway with all the roadwork and potholes, or take further steps, like making sure to hire a carrier that uses air ride suspension, or packing contents so that they’re more resistant to shocks, impacts, and vibrations.
Spot Delays and Take Action
Shipping delays can have a massive impact on the supply chain, and can even jeopardize the food safety of perishables like fish and seafood, meats, and dairy. And RFID tracking technology can help you begin to isolate those factors that lead to supply chain delays.
RFID tracking can be valuable for mitigating delays because some tracking devices give you real-time shipping updates, including information about shipping delays that you can use to changes to the itinerary on the fly. For example, if your shipment gets stuck in traffic, you can choose to instruct the driver to take a detour. Or if you notice a pattern in your shipping delays and realize that a specific route, method, or carrier is more likely to cause shipping delays, you can make operational decisions designed to give your shipments a better shot at arriving on time.
You’re not powerless to prevent shipping damage. With RFID tracking technology, you can get the data you need to make smart, informed decisions about where and how to send shipments, so more of your goods can arrive at their destinations on time and in one piece.
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