Keep on Track: Bertrand Spaeth explains why postal operators should take advantage of real-time tracking
Postal operators need transparency. They need to have visibility on the processes in their network and they need to be able to provide accurate information to their customers. Many postal operators fail on the provision of accurate, real-time information of shipments, while courier services with a transparent global system are providing it. What is the leading couriers’ secret? Their systems are fully integrated. The courier company that takes a shipment is the same that will deliver it, no matter where. Track and trace is available for its customers end-to-end in real-time. Designated postal operators, on the other hand, work with other postal operators to fulfill their delivery promise. Their reality is oftentimes fragmented supply chains, with information lost at each step in the delivery chain where processes are handed over and responsibilities change. With cross-border e-commerce skyrocketing, this development will get worse and bottlenecks become even more invisible. Track and trace solutions based on scanning and RFID are no longer enough to meet these complexities since manual scanning and RFID Gates are not available everywhere and don’t tell the whole truth
Scanning and RFID are suitable for capturing shipments at waypoints, but not for real-time end-to-end shipment tracking.
Testing conventional track-and-trace vs. active tracking
The solution? Stop scanning and start tracking. To illustrate this, we did the test. We sent a shipment by post from Germany to Russia. Via the track & trace platform of the postal carrier, the progress of our shipment could be tracked online, with information on the current position provided only on a few waypoints. For almost 5 days we were not able to get any information about our parcel, knowing only that it had left Germany. Once it had entered Russia, we had to connect on a Russian tracking portal, with information partially in Russian. Not only were we struggling with the Cyrillic language, but what does the status “in transit” tell us? How long will it take to deliver? What should we tell customers about the arrival of their ordered goods? What a scenario in 2019! Luckily we had equipped the parcel with a live tracker from Kizy, which conveniently let us follow its progress so we could exactly determine movement and idle times and locate the position of our parcel at all times.
To date, traditional track and trace systems of postal services only provide partial information on the status of shipments, based on data from scanning and RFID. The track and trace systems rarely work in foreign countries as they are not integrated with the partners’ systems, providing only information on the entry into the destination country. With letter volumes down and parcels ever increasing, designated postal operators need a solution for end-to-end transparency. Furthermore, if a problem occurs between one reading point and another, postal companies have difficulties knowing what is happening within their systems. For example, a customer had a shipment that was supposed to go to the UK. The shipment was refused by customs and sent back to Switzerland, but it was not captured when boarding. As a result, although it was back in Switzerland, it was searched for in the UK. Kizy trackers let you know exactly if the customs is truly the source of the delay, or if your shipment is still laying around in the originating country, or where else your shipment is stuck.
Tracking platforms in comparison: on the left the real-time tracking portal of Kizy, in the middle and on the right typical track-and-trace platforms of postal operators.
Getting started couldn’t be easier
Real-time trackers can handle a huge number of complex tasks, yet they are extremely easy to get up and running: no investment in infrastructure is needed, and they can easily be returned with the UPU International Business Reply System (IBRS) due to their small size. Use-cases for postal operators include the tracking of mailbags, trolleys, letters and shipments, thereby live-alerting on delays and misrouting, waiting times at sorting centers, processing times at hubs, opening of shipments and many more applications. For this, the trackers send position information at predefined measurement intervals, even if the shipment is in a truck or building. The trackers can be configured to connect from once every 15 minutes to once per day, allowing for a battery life of up to one year.
“Thanks to Kizy, it’s possible to view the current location of shipments, parcels, containers, and vehicles at the touch of a button and to analyse delays directly,” CEO Niels Delater explains.
The data alone is not enough: Integration in vertical solutions
When you have many trackers in action, a solution is needed to make sense of all the generated data. This is why Kizy can be often found bundled with platforms that offer vertical solutions (see Kizy partners). The combination of the unique Kizy tracking technology and advanced 3rd party data analytics allows for innovative solutions in the areas of quality monitoring, inventory management, asset management, project coordination, and shipment tracking.
The future of logistics will be being connected – a key component for the industrial change our society is facing. Now to realize this, the industry needs to find solutions to connect the largest goods flows around the globe in a cost-efficient way, and with long-term autonomy.