Putting an End to Black Box Shipping

Tags: Technology , Big Data, Supply Chain, Visibility

Ryan Rusnak is Co-Founder and CTO, Airspace Technologies

Sometimes, for even the most critical shipments, the only two data points that the shipper receives is when the shipment left their hands and confirmation from the destination that the shipment has arrived.

This can be likened to a black box in computer science, where a function is considered a black box when the developer using it does not have any information as to what is going on inside.

This can be useful for the developer because he or she potentially has fewer things to worry about. But, if something goes wrong with the program, the developer will need a deep understanding of its inner workings. If the developer is unable to retrieve that information, the problem might never be rectified.

In logistics, shippers need information between these two data points. In between them, an immensely complex system is moving their shipment from provider to provider, increasing the chances of something going wrong and causing delay.

What if something goes wrong in between milestones? A hospital waiting for an organ needs to know that the shipment has been delayed so it does not prepare the patient for surgery.

A Visible Future

Companies have worked hard to open this box. Now, it is commonplace to get emails, text messages, and push notifications every time an order moves from distribution center to distribution center. Computing has become pervasive to the point where almost every driver has a GPS with a cellular connection in their pocket, in the form of a smart phone.

Using custom software, forwarders can now track any shipment in the world in real-time if we choose to do so. Shippers can follow their critical shipments on a map, keeping an eye on every movement from when the shipment departs the origin to the second it arrives into their recipient's hands. 

Additionally, significant innovation has taken place in the area of Internet of Things, giving shippers the ability to place sensor devices on assets or within shipments to deliver a never-before-seen level of visibility.

The same hospital no longer needs to rely on automated messages that may or may not be sent. There is technology allowing the shipper and recipient to follow the shipment on a map and keep an eye on their time-critical shipments from origin to the moment it is delivered into their hands.

The End of Black Box

So why are most organizations still relying on black box shipping? The logistics industry is filled with equity-owned behemoths that move much slower than the pace of technology.

Customers need to demand the level of service that is now possible in 2017. There is a better way to ship.






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