Every year, in the United States alone, cargo theft is rampant and increasingly more sophisticated. To cope, electronics supply chains have to increase visibility to combat loss.
The FreightWatch International Supply Chain Intelligence Center (FWI SCIC) documented 794 cargo thefts throughout the US in 2014, each averaging $232,924, the group reported in its 2014 US Annual Cargo Theft Report released in March. "Although the total number of verified reported incidents decreased by 12%, the threat of cargo theft continues to grow in the United States due to increased organization and innovation on the part of cargo thieves," the report said.
Every day, companies are robbed of a half million dollars of stolen goods, with 90% of thefts associated with unattended trucks, according to the report. FreightWatch projects these numbers to increase in 2015. In addition to theft, organizations are dealing with property damage caused by tampering, which can translate into skyrocketing insurance rates and lost credibility, and slow shipment scenarios, where cargo is delayed or lost at great expense.
In light of these challenges, organizations are looking for better ways of tracking assets and the explosion of smart phones may provide one type of answer. In fact, MarketsandMarkets estimated in a report released this month that the Real-Time Location System (RTLS) market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.03% between 2015 and 2020, and will reach $3,923.6 million by 2020.
"The proliferation of mobile technology, the rise of the Internet of Things and enhanced data analytic techniques have transformed the way commercial and government organizations think about the global supply chain," said Bill Clark, President & CEO of Savi, a maker of sensor technology and sensor analytics solutions, said in a press release. "These organizations demand real-time visibility of high-value assets anytime and anywhere."
The company has created a mobile application called Savi Now which allows users to track, in real-time, the location of assets anywhere in the world, and receive exception-based notifications and alerts, including arrival, departure, dwell-time, and speeding events.
"Organizations are grappling with how to get in front of the risks of disruption to the supply chain," said Andy Souders, senior vice president of products and strategy at Savi. "You may not be able to prevent problems but they hope to get in front of them enough to handle them effectively."
Further, tracking and tagging of shipments may be a requirement of some governments in high-risk areas. "If goods are lost or stolen, they can't get tax revenue from it," said Souders.
Sensors, which are becoming increasingly affordable, allow organizations to monitor containers, palettes, or even individual products, depending on the need. The delivery of software services in the cloud allows for a variety of benefits, including ease of use and scalability. These elements will bring track and trace of products into the affordable mainstream. "Whereas before high value assets used this sort of approach, as this becomes more and more commoditized, we'll see more of this idea of lighting up the supply chain," said Souders.
Investing in technology allows organizations greater visibility and greater granularity of information about shipments. In addition, it's possible to monitor on a frequent basis. "Knowing where stuff is, what state it is in, is becoming a reality," said Souders.
In the case of theft, this type of monitoring may not prevent theft, but over time collected information can be used in predictive ways to reduce risk. "If you know a truck gets stolen in a certain area a certain percent of the time, you can figure out how to avoid that," said Souders.
Let us know how technology is changing the way your organization tracks its shipments in the comments section below.