To transport each shipment, companies often use a highly integrated supply chain network that links multiple transportation modes: planes, ships, trucks, and vans. This network is the fabric of the shipping transport industry and it’s what keeps international trade afloat. However, this industry is currently facing many obstacles. For instance, increasing oil prices are directly affecting maritime carrier freight rates and revenue. As a result, there was recently a 6.7% reduced capacity in the transpacific trade. To lower costs and help freight rates maintain higher levels, ocean carriers are now proceeding with capacity cuts on main trade lanes due to declining volumes despite freight volume increasing by 4.6% this year. 
Another issue disrupting this industry is the current trucking shortage, which is growing due to a lack of skilled drivers and rising fuel costs. In fact, some freight carriers are struggling to meet new volume demands, since many carrier terminals are unable to handle the larger vessels that are being used for new shipments. At some terminals, getting an appointment may take days; drivers often need to pick up cargo either on the last free day or even after the free day expires. Several major ones have already stopped accepting new bookings, adding additional costs to imports.
How RFID Aids Transportation Management
Hoping to streamline their shipping transport workflow and lower their costs, many companies are now using transportation management systems (TMS). This type of system manages the supply chain connecting various parties involved in shipping products from a producer to a seller to a buyer and ensures that the coordinated goods effectively move from each supply chain network segment. With TMS, companies can quickly analyze important metrics, such as shipping class and weight breaks, shipment density, carrier utilization reports, etc.
To lower transportation expenses and improve warehouse workflow, many transportation management systems use radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to track shipments through supply chain networks. This technology offers highly accurate real-time location tracking and shipment details.
Listed below are some of the benefits of using RFID:
- Accurately tracks inventory: RFID tracks every movement of goods throughout a supply chain, as well as provides real-time insight into a product’s location, quantity, history, and destination. It also tracks the location of reusable shipping assets, so that they can be returned to business.
- Automates dock doors: This technology helps workers gain insight into traffic patterns, service level metrics, and other analytics based on accurate data about their shipments. It can identify and record thousands of items per second without a direct line of sight and integrates data directly into the shipping software.
- Increases yard productivity: RFID technology tracks when trailers depart, arrive, are loaded and unloaded to save time, as well as improve workflow. It also helps drivers to make sure that they have the right trailer and tractor connected before they leave the yard.
- Prevents warehouse traffic: Tracking traffic patterns allows for streamlined planning of loading and unloading operations, such as cross-docking or double-stacked forklift loads working in regular circuits to drop off items at different locations, as well as eliminates collisions with forklifts.
- Provides shipping visibility: Data about what’s in the container can then be written to an active tag that identifies a particular container. The tag might also have a GPS transmitter, so it can communicate its location via satellite or the cellular network, providing visibility of where those goods are as they travel to a distribution center or store.
- Reduces shipping theft: When a truck arrives at a distribution yard or the container is offloaded from a ship, it might be misplaced. By tagging cases, cartons, containers, or individual items, a worker can read the tags as the goods are placed into a container and confirm exactly what’s in each one. RFID links the asset, be it a trailer or ocean container, to not only the freight inside, but also to the electronic seals that lock the doors. This can reduce theft, as well as the risk of terrorism.
- Quickly verifies shipments: This technology allows staff to read tags that are on individual items, pallets, or containers to ensure that the right goods are in the correct quantity and on the right track. An alert is sent when a shipment is incomplete, contains the wrong items, or is loaded on the wrong truck.
Syrma Technology: RFID Expert
Over the years, we’ve worked on several RFID products that can be used with transportation management systems to streamline a company’s supply chain workflow. We’ve designed custom UHF RFID tags and readers for tracking shipping containers that can be used to identify bottlenecks or blind spots to streamline container traffic. These RFID tags have high-adhesive strength and are affixed to containers. RFID readers are also placed in multiple locations along with the supply network, such as in factories, tolls, ICDs, ports, etc.
We recently designed a new UHF RFID electronic sealing (e-seal) solution for the Government of India’s Customs Department. This solution is used to track shipping data, import/export codes, container numbers, etc. These seals are for one-time use and can’t be tampered. If a seal is broken, customs officials or anyone can identify it easily using our RFID reader. Our team has also designed RFID tags for railway wagon tracking based on specifications from the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) for railway coaches, trains, and wagons. These RFID tags are designed for rugged use; they’re read using our portable and fixed RFID readers.
To learn more about this topic, please contact us.