The very definition of a logistics company is to guarantee the seamless flow of goods from source to customer. These goods - from a special gift ordered just in time for a loved one's birthday to a large shipment of shoes for a clothing retailer - are highly desirable and highly vulnerable to various risks, especially theft, which is why top logistic companies go to great lengths to secure their precious cargo. Twenty years ago, the majority of theft occurred at warehouses but today, cargo is more likely to be stolen during transit. The old saying remains true: "Cargo that sits, is cargo that's vulnerable". From smart locks to uber-smart telematics, logistic companies are increasingly using technology to streamline processes and trim operational costs.
Here are some recent trends:
- Smart locks: The Internet of Things has already spread to trucks, specifically with wireless locking devices fitted to trucks. These can, for example, transmit alerts for locked/unlocked and latched/unlatched status changes of doors. It can also share GPS-based location information and a geofencing feature will prevent locks from opening anywhere but at a specific defined location.
- Tracking shipping containers: In an area of the world rife with pirate attacks, telecommunications company MTN devised a system whereby shipping containers in Nigeria can be tracked by SMS. This system allows Nigerian importers and other shipping operators to quickly and easily locate their containers anywhere in the world.
- Constant communication: Vehicle telemetry allows fleet managers to customize alerts to monitor anything from breaks, idle time, after hours use and more. These days, the more data you can record, the more secure your cargo will be. It's about knowing where your goods are and who has them at all times.
- Staying on route: Most telematics systems offer geofencing capabilities which will send alerts when a truck goes off-route. If vehicle or cargo theft is suspected, there are systems with a 'starter disable' function which breaks the ignition circuit on the vehicle. I.e. if the engine is shut off, it won't start again. Location data collection by the onboard system can then be provided to law enforcement parties to take action.
- Implement tip lines: Third-party organizations that specialize in tip line services can provide the necessary anonymity for valuable tip-offs. These professionals will offer both telephone and internet options, operate 24/7 and will possibly have translation services.
- Be visible: Trucks with minimal markings are popular with thieves. Along with branding, look into roof markings which can easily be tracked by air.
- Plan routes in detail: You always want your cargo to traveling the shortest distance possible, with the fewest number of stops. Use route planning software to plan optimum routes and connect with local authorities to inquire about the safety of truck stops. If possible, stick to secured lots for overnight stays.
In summary: to keep your cargo safe at all times, a mixture of technology, hardware and old-fashioned diligence and common senses will stand your logistic company in good stead. For more ideas on how other companies are using SMS to streamline their logistic processes, download our 101 uses for SMS guide.