Businesses owners across the world—from the biggest multinational corporations to the smallest local chains would agree—that supply chain disruptions are one of the biggest reasons for business and customer loss.
In 2015, annual cargo theft amounted to a whopping $22 billion globally, according to a survey conducted by BSI Intelligence. Yet another finding by NBC Los Angeles states that in 2016, in the state of California alone, $30 million in cargo was stolen off highways and distribution centers.
While criminal gangs consider inventory theft as one of the easiest target areas, the sadder part is that the perpetrators of such acts are seldom caught and punished. For customers (both business and consumer) eagerly waiting for their order, a loss or theft of their valuable items means loss of precious time, money, and resources—not to mention the mounting frustration and mental trauma. For companies who are unable to deliver goods to their customers due to such troubles, it means permanent loss of customers, credibility and undermining of the brand value, which can be far-reaching and often irreparable.
However, the advent of digital technologies like inventory monitoring systems are set to change the scenario and make life easier for businesses and supply chain companies worldwide. Smart asset monitoring and tracking systems are becoming integral in ensuring enhanced package safety and maximizing operational efficiencies, thereby providing complete control of remote assets to logistics managers and supply chain companies.
Smart asset tracking: A valuable weapon in the logistics armoury
The most common commodities targeted by cargo thieves are food and beverages, according to NBC Los Angeles, mainly because they can be easily distributed and consumed quickly. For security personnel or police trying to nab such thieves, this means a dead end, as there can be no trace found of the products that have been consumed or distributed. It is in such scenarios that a smart asset monitoring solution can be a useful weapon. However, small high-value electronics and components certainly aren’t immune, offering an equally compelling target.
Source: Freightwatch International
Traditionally, the modus operandi of inventory thieves is attacking distribution centers, holing or tying up security guards and escaping with the goods, all within just a few minutes. However, by attaching IoT-based smart sensors to product boxes, goods carriers or fleets combined with GPS tracking, inventory managers as well as customers get instant alerts as a package is moved from one location to another.
If any of the parties feel that the package is being moved to an undesirable location, they can instantly alert security personnel who are able to take action quickly and stop the attack. Even if the security personnel are unable to nab the thieves in time, the smart sensors would keep sending location updates, creating a detailed location trail for the investigators to follow or set a trap. Smart asset tracking ensures that a product or package is always visible, be it within a warehouse or anywhere outside, making it an almost fool-proof safety mechanism.
A key back-up
Apart from losing valuable goods and inventory to thefts, yet another prominent cause of supply chain disruption or missing inventory is extreme weather conditions and natural disasters like floods or snowstorms. Such sudden and unnatural weather/temperature variations and natural disasters can cause great damage to products, especially to perishable items.
Smart asset tracking solutions have in-built Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) sensors that constantly measure the temperature, pressure, humidity and moisture that a package is exposed to in a warehouse or during transit. Sudden fluctuations in these parameters trigger instant notifications and alert logistics managers or delivery managers of the possibility of a package getting spoiled so that they can make the necessary amends just in time. A unified reporting web dashboard that is a part of the smart asset management system allows logistics managers to keep a close track of every package, its current location and status, all in a single view.
Smart asset monitoring and tracking solutions are becoming a core feature in developing risk management programs for more and more companies as they provide a comprehensive safety cover and can easily complement pre-existing inventory management systems.