Logistics Performance Management Challenge #1: Where’s My Cargo?

May 15, 2019

Categories: Logistics

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This is the first article in our series about Logistics Performance Management (LPM) and how to overcome challenges in the supply chain. This blog focuses on the importance of knowing where your cargo is at every moment of the shipping cycle.


One of the most frustrating challenges for manufacturers and shippers of time-sensitive materials is the inability to know where cargo is in real time while in transit.

Whether you are a manufacturer waiting for a vital inbound component or a shipper wanting to avoid late delivery fees, knowing the status of your cargo at any given moment during the shipping cycle could help you avoid significant ramifications. Even one or two late arrivals due to unexpected supply chain disruptions could have major impacts—such as costly labor charges, lost business, exorbitant fines, critical production delays, dissatisfied customers or a damaged brand reputation.

Many cargo tracking systems and technologies provide limited visibility into the real-time location of a shipment from a mix of carrier and third-party logistics (3PL) feeds. For example, asset-based tracking technologies and scanning tools—such as hard-wired telematics and electronic-logging devices—travel with trucks, trailers and containers rather than the cargo itself, so the data may not reflect the actual updated shipment status. While the data from these systems is useful, it is the cargo’s actual whereabouts that is vital.

Get the information you need – when you need it

To avoid these ramifications, many companies are opting to use real-time cargo tracking sensors. With devices that actually travel with the cargo, you can get in-the-moment factual visibility into your shipment’s location wherever it is, even as it travels over multiple transit modes and through various carriers.

With real-time data, you’ll always know exactly where your cargo is every step of the way, from origin to final destination. You can literally have visibility into your complete supply chain, with current transit data whenever you need it and continuous real-time alerts on delays or at-risk shipments.

Recapture control of your shipments

Sensor-based tracking technology can help you improve on-time performance, reduce costs and proactively communicate more effectively with customers and partners. These sophisticated devices help you:

  • Gain real-time visibility for every link in the supply chain for greater control.
  • Identify where shipments are in real time while in transit to avoid costly impacts.
  • Proactively manage delays and schedule changes to optimize logistics operations.
  • Address supply chain interruptions to improve on-time delivery and drive continuous supply chain optimization.
  • Improve overall logistics performance with greater speed, efficiency and superior customer service for every shipment.

What to look for in cargo tracking sensors

As mentioned earlier, not all cargo tracking solutions provide you with the comprehensive information you need to track your cargo in real time. Look for a real-time sensor program that allows you to:

  • Deploy tracking quickly and easily. Some sensor programs can take months to set up. Look for a program that can be set up almost overnight, with immediate tracking once the battery-operated sensors are applied right to the cargo much like a mailing label. Look for sensors that require no capital expense, ongoing maintenance or configuration, and ones that can be disposed of or recycled after they are used.
  • Get automated alerts for fast decision making. If you want visibility in the moment, get sensors that can provide you real-time location alerts and reporting on demand, with data on each carrier and mode of transportation. These kinds of sensors deliver notifications of late departures and delayed arrivals so you can address any ramifications proactively.
  • Track your cargo live and interactively. Look for a cargo tracking program that provides a tracking and monitoring platform with access to an interactive map, allowing you to see where you cargo is right then and there.
  • Maximize the power of your existing systems. You’ll want a cargo tracking program that can easily integrate via API-level integrations with other systems you already have in place, such as transportation management (TMS), enterprise resource planning (ERP), telematics or other logistics systems. This gives you a holistic view of the timely and accurate information you need to effectively manage the shipment segment of your supply chain.
  • Find the weak spots in your supply chain. If you do encounter problems in your supply chain, you can only fix them if you can find the source of the issue. Find a cargo tracking solution that provides logistics reporting and analytics so you find those roots causes and help you to address specific problems and drive improvements.