IoT Asset Tracking Repairs Missing Links of Visibility in the Supply Chain
If you’ve ever fantasized about being a lucrative criminal, robbing a bank, becoming a jewel thief, or stealing high-dollar artwork from a museum, a role you may not have considered--which likely offers a simpler and faster heist--is that of a cargo thief. Cargo crime in the United States accounts for a direct merchandise loss of $15b-$30 billion per year.¹ With trailers carrying between a mere $12,000 to $3 million in cargo, the FBI’s major-theft priority is likely one you haven’t heard of.¹
Most of this loss happens while trucks are in transit.² Evidence supports a common theme of truck drivers pulling into a rest stop and returning to their trucks without trailers.³ With the possibility of $3 million in cargo, stealing trailers of merchandise to sell on the black market can seem awfully tempting. If you have products with a high sell value, IoT asset tracking may be exactly what you need for full visibility and peace of mind.
Warehouses generally have multiple forms of security, protecting assets inside. Cameras, high-tech locks, or even cages are commonplace. Once those assets leave the four walls, what then? Without a system in place, they are left exposed.
Internet of Things Defined
So what is the Internet of Things (IoT) and how can it impact your supply chain?
While the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) is still new to many, the term is already 19 years old. The Internet of Things can be defined as a network of devices with sensors that collect and send data through the internet. To further explain, everyday “things”, such as a truck, overhead lights, pallet, etc., are having sensors added to them. The sensors collect data on the status and condition of their “things”. Once data is collected, it can be sent by way of the internet allowing machines to communicate with people and other machines. The data can be used to create powerful and actionable insights.
For example, if your IoT-enabled pallet tells you (through an internet app) that your shipment has received an impact (sensor data) while in Mesa, Arizona (GPS), and you also receive an alert via text that the shipment temperature has exceeded your allowed threshold of 87°F (sensor data) for more than 2 hours (sensor data), IoT asset tracking technology may suggest sending a replacement shipment (actionable insight) to prevent your customer from receiving a broken product with heat damage. IoT is still in its infancy, but with time and its current momentum, there will likely be widespread supply chain adaptation.
How can IoT Asset Tracking Deter Theft?
By providing real-time information and utilizing geofencing and GPS technology, IoT asset tracking has three advantages deterring theft.
1. Real Time Information
If our above scenario of a truck driver returning to a missing trailer were true, IoT tracking technology would ride in on its white horse to save the day. The real-time functionality would provide up-to-the-minute data on the assets’ locations. This data is reported back to an application that could easily be shared with law enforcement to assist in quickly locating the stolen goods. Without the tracked assets, it would likely take law enforcement days if not weeks to locate the missing truck, and by that point the assets have likely been sold. Real time information provides the opportunity to react to events as they occur, rather than hours after the situation has snowballed.
Geofencing is another vitally important function of preventing theft. Geofencing is the process of creating a virtual fence around a specific set of coordinates on a map (your warehouse). Once an area around your facility has been established, anytime your IoT tracked assets leave or enter the virtual fence, you will know, typically through text or email alerts.
3. GPS Technology
GPS technology, in its nature, offers the precise location needed for tracking. Global Positioning System (GPS) technology uses satellites orbiting the Earth to obtain exact details about an object’s location. Google Maps is an example. Trackers that harnesses GPS technology are preferred for pinpointing location because of their accurate details, further assisting in theft detection.
What Can I Do Today?
Even with the best of efforts, loss will still occur. What we can do is best equip ourselves with better technology that will deter theft and quickly recover what is stolen. With real-time information, geofencing, and GPS technology, IoT asset trackers are becoming the next wave of what’s available for protection within the four walls and beyond. With IoT asset trackers hitting the market, hopefully in a few years cargo theft may no longer be one of the costliest crimes in America.
Learn more about IoT technology and asset tracking.
You can also see our IoT asset trackers at MODEX booth B4169, or attend our MODEX seminar.
¹ “Cargo Theft’s High Costs: Thieves Stealing Billions Annually.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, 21 July 2006, archives.fbi.gov/archieves/news/stories/2006/july/cargo_theft072106.
² Bowman, Robert J. “How to Stop Cargo Theft from Stealing Your Profits.” Supply Chain Brain, Keller International Publishing Corp, 26 Aug. 2013, www.supplychainbrain.com/news/single-article/article/how-to-stop-cargo-theft-from-stealing-your-profits/.
³ Stock, Stephen, et al. “Pirates on the Highways: Cargo Theft Costing Nation Billions. “NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 5 Aug. 2012, usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/05/13132047-pirates-on-the-highways-cargo-theft-costing-nation-billions.
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