The global fleet management market was valued at over $19 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $52.5 billion by 2030. At the same time, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the transportation and shipping industry by slowing down manufacturers and causing supply chain issues.
To avoid further disruption, satellite-enabled industrial internet of things (IIoT) devices can be a valuable resource for tracking vehicle fleets and other assets. Fleet management and supply chain logistics go hand in hand, as the successful delivery of products relies on dependable transportation. During a time of uncertainty, satellite technology brings much-needed reliability.
COVID-19 has caused a ripple effect on supply chains on a global scale due to increased volume of shipments, the need to avoid physical contact in stores and manufacturing shortages. These factors have put unprecedented pressure on global supply chains.
A recent executive order by the Biden administration aims to identify current transportation supply chain vulnerabilities and create policy recommendations to reduce future disruptions. Analysis from the U.S. Department of Transportation notes that research is needed to improve supply chain data in order to develop tools and best practices to quickly diagnose and address disruptions.
Additionally, by streamlining rules and regulations, supply chains can become more agile in disaster-recovery efforts, as well as mitigate and reduce safety risks. So how can individuals and organizations put this guidance into action? The answer, in part, lies in obtaining dependable fleet-management data.
Being able to accurately track shipments regardless of fleet location is critical to maintaining supply chain stability. During delays, reliable connectivity and process visibility are key in problem solving. Fleet vehicle tracking optimizes routing and dispatch to reduce idle time, better coordinate pickups and deliveries, and prevent losses. Fleet management tracking ensures that all assets are visible, which can save hours spent manually locating trailers or contacting customers to learn if they’re detaining trailers. Geofencing technology or established GPS boundaries for fleet vehicle tracking can send alerts when vehicles leave pre-determined areas due to misuse or theft.
At the human level, truck drivers are considered lone workers, without direct supervision when carrying out their duties. There are many risks associated with being a lone worker, such as accidents, injuries or emergencies that require a response. The lack of connectivity in remote areas presents an additional hazard. By utilizing satellite-enabled IIoT technology, the lone worker stays connected, safeguarding the ability to communicate should a hazard be presented.
In 2019, registered trucks travelled over 300 billion miles. Many those vehicles aren’t reachable by standard GPS 100%, and would benefit from satellite technology. Terrestrial networks provide connectivity in populated areas. Vast areas of the road infrastructure fall into regions where the population is sparse, and terrestrial infrastructure lacking. Satellite coverage is land mass-based rather than population-based. No matter the location, it offers reliable connectivity where traditional cellular networks fall short.
There’s a common misconception that satellite technology is prohibitively expensive. On the contrary, low earth orbit (LEO) networks use a small amount of bandwidth to transmit periodic bursts of tracking fleet data, which can be used to provide GPS coordinates or sensor readings.
There are a few options for IoT asset trackers, so the first step is determining the needs of the business. Some devices are lower maintenance, offering one to two “pings” of location per day, while other devices deliver location status more frequently, up to every five minutes. In both cases, the devices attach to the fleet and offer real-time location status. In case of emergency or instances when the fleet is off its scheduled course, the owner is provided with up-to-date information to ensure full range of visibility. Additionally, more advanced solutions can be integrated into already-existing management systems.
To lessen supply chain issues and increase visibility into fleet movement, satellite-enabled IIoT technology can be used to gather data and improve decision-making. Real-time visibility is important in the moment, but it also offers a glimpse into the future. Knowledge of previous delays can inform management procedures and decisions for a more seamless delivery.
In addition to financial benefits, satellite-enabled IIoT technology ensures increased connectivity and more reliable tracking coverage for fleets as well as supplies and employees. From a logistics standpoint, supply chain issues can’t always be avoided, but they can be managed. Asset tracking allows for better planning by bringing insight to exactly when goods will be received to be processed. In a time where shipments and supply chains are becoming increasingly unpredictable, IIoT technology is advantageous for monitoring fleet delivery cycles.
Martin Jefferson is commercial IoT data services manager at Globalstar.
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