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End-to-end supply chain visibility

Shipment tracking software can deliver information about real-time location, conditions of your goods, data for analysing shipments etc., as well as let you analyse historical data.

The software can display the origin and destination information, along with the delivery schedule, estimated time of arrival (ETA), method of delivery, and tracking number. Can but does not have to, of course. It is all up to the requirements and things you can do with the data you have.

Shipment tracking software

Solutions designed to track shipments have features that are strongly correlated with time and cost management. For example:

  • tracking shipments in real-time,
  • recreating the historical route,
  • notifying when something is wrong (e.g., delays, theft attempt),
  • estimating the delivery time,
  • calculating shipment costs,
  • enriching databases in reliable information about assets, fleet and shipments details
  • and more…

From free to fairly expensive, from installed on-premises to available in the cloud, from PC solutions to mobile applications – the market is still growing and adapting to changing trends and needs.

What can be tracked?

Shipment tracking software can work in many different ways. The right solution for you depends on your needs, your business specifications and what you want to achieve. The below factors influence what type of solution is right for you.

What type of software do you need?

  • Software for eCommerce companies
  • Software for in-house logistics and supply chain departments
  • Software for T&L companies

What do you need to track?

  • Shipments
  • Fleet
  • Assets

What is the size of your company?

  • SMB
  • SME
  • Large enterprises

What modes of transportation do you use?

  • By land
  • By air
  • By sea
  • By rail
  • Mixed

What goods will be delivered?

  • Fragile goods (e.g., glass, electronic devices)
  • Condition fragile goods (e.g., food, medicaments, animals)
  • Valuable goods (e.g., jewellery)
  • Hazardous materials (e.g., chemicals)

etc.

What are your business goals?

  • To cut downtimes
  • To optimise the transport options
  • To ensure safety
  • To ensure stable conditions
  • To cut costs
  • To assess carriers
  • To improve the customer experience

What types of loads do you use?

  • Singular parcels
  • Pallets with goods
  • Full truckload
  • Less than a truckload
  • Containers
  • Intermodal

As you can see, the right software for you depends on many factors and not getting it right the first time might be very costly.

A software consultancy company specialised in logistics could help you map your requirements, stakeholders and challenges, and generally help you find or design and introduce the right solution.

Shipment tracking solutions comparison

As we said earlier, there are many types of software available on the market. From open-source solutions to custom software solutions, from licensed products to cost-free etc.

How do they differ? We prepared a comparison in the table below.

Open-source solutions Out-of-the-box solutions Custom software solutions
General description Software solution available for free; anyone can inspect the code and modify it for the sake of their own goals. Semi-customizable software solution often combined with tracking devices; address most common industry problems. A custom shipment tracking software is a fully customisable software solution developed by a software house to meet custom requirements.
The biggest pluses
  • It’s fee-free
  • It’s customizable
  • Most often custom integrations can be done by software houses to acquire more data
  • Tracking devices are part of such solutions (see more)
  • Usually, you have a trial period
  • Support is usually in price
  • Relatively quick implementation
  • From the beginning of the software production process, you have the control over features, technology and scope of work delivered
  • Features are tailored to the individual customer’s needs
  • You get a Proof of Concept first
  • You get a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) version before implementation of the whole system
  • Your software partner can develop them further over time
  • You decide on architecture and security levels
The biggest minuses
  • No support
  • Not secured
  • Requires the most work to be done (analyse, develop, customise, test, implement, integrate etc.)
  • You don’t decide on the basic features
  • You don’t decide on the architecture
  • You pay for different security levels
  • Limited in terms of features and development possibilities
  • Onboarding process (sometimes companies need to bend in terms of their internal processes to use a product)
  • Support depends on your agreement
  • Highest price
Pricing models No pricing models Licensed It depends on the agreement
Major advantage Fee-free solutions Relatively good quality to a price There is no randomness while creating custom shipment tracking software. From the very first kick-off meeting until the last tests, work is done in accordance with the client’s requirements

Tracking devices

With tracking devices, you can transform your logistics into a controlled, highly efficient operation. You can receive information in a real-time on your shipment’s location, temperature and other important factors as well as gather information after a certain point of shipment.

Cisco predicts a 1.9 trillion USD growth until 2025 for the logistics industry, thanks to the implementation of IoT and enabling real-time tracking.

Shipment condition monitoring

Whenever a pallet is dropped from a crane, a refrigerated truck is opened, or perishable goods are hit by the sun, the cargo experiences an impact. Sensors built into some tracking devices can monitor these shocks and the tracking systems can alert you when something goes wrong.

The sensors collect data upon the following parameters:

  • Position
  • Utilisation
  • Shock, vibration
  • Tilt, motion
  • Light intensity
  • Temperature (including dew point)
  • Humidity
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