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Exploring the four dimensions of tracking

The importance of tracking is well-known in transport and logistics. The ability to keep a close eye on the supply chain can empower a wide range of benefits, from improving efficiency, to reducing emissions. However, there is still a lack of visibility into the supply chain and that's costing companies dearly.

At GEO IoT World in Brussels last week, I discussed how IoT can offer transport and logistics companies unparalleled insight into the supply chain. The key is embracing the four dimensions of tracking.

Growing pains

Transport and logistics companies have been facing an uphill battle in their bid to gain complete visibility into the journeys of products in transit.

By opening new markets and creating a wider distribution and transportation network, globalization increases complexity in the way businesses are run. Transport and logistics companies now need to track products that are decentralized around the globe and moving over multiple modes of transit: trains, trucks, cargo ships and more.

As a result, logistics managers are finding it harder than ever to gain full visibility into the supply chain. How, after all, do you keep track of an item that's being carried over an ocean? Unfortunately, a lack of visibility into the supply chain can lead to bad planning, which can in-turn result in wasted time and resources.

The IoT, however, can address this, ensuring that transport and logistic companies have a more accurate view of the supply chain, and can keep track of their shipments regardless of location.

This ability to offer this end-to-end visibility is unique to HERE, and this is how we do it.

Another dimension

HERE can offer the ability to track items across an entire journey, from manufacturer to the container, to a dealer, importer and finally a warehouse. How can HERE do this? Through the four dimensions -- online, offline, indoor and outdoor -- of tracking.

We are in a unique position to offer end-to-end tracking capabilities. HERE can provide both outdoor and indoor maps and positioning, so if a product is moving through customs, for example, it can be traced, just as it would be if it were being transported along the open road.

If indoor and outdoor mapping are the first two dimensions of tracking, online and offline complete the set. With offline network positioning, you can track an object to identify its position without needing to communicate with HERE servers. So, if the product is in a container in a ship in the middle of an ocean, you can still find its location. But how does this work? Through the creation of a global radio map index.

HERE has created a global map of radio signals that can be pre-loaded onto a device, so that the device can resolve and understand its positioning without network connectivity and obtain its position without a GNSS signal (if the device is underground, for example). HERE's ability to offer the four dimensions of tracking opens up, for the first time ever, the possibility of complete supply chain visibility.

This level of insight can be transformed into improved cost efficiency and scalability, and would not be possible were it not for the HERE Open Location Platform.

Location is everything

For HERE to empower end-to-end tracking, we have to look to the Open Location Platform. All the data collected throughout a product's journey is fed into the platform and transformed into actionable insights.

So, if something happens during a shipment that impedes an item's journey -- stopping at customs, say -- the Open Location Platform will collect this data and offer it up as something usable. A notification, for instance, can be set up to inform the supply chain on the item's whereabouts and its next steps. This way, logistics managers can adjust planning and avoid any unnecessary costs.

The Open Location Platform receives the data, and transforms it into something useful and easy to access, offering clearer, smarter visibility across the entirety of the journey.

HERE technology can help businesses trace and track millions of goods by combining all four dimensions of tracking into one service, offering software that is both scalable and cost-effective.

For the very first time, and through location-based technology from HERE, companies will be able to benefit from seamless indoor and outdoor, offline and online tracking, and achieve a never-before-seen level of visibility into the supply chain.

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