International trade once relied on people: adventurous merchants carrying silk and spices on carts and camels. Then it relied on paper: bills of lading and letters of credit, moving money across borders as networks of trust developed. Later still, it relied on vehicles: trains, ships, and planes, with a single twenty-foot sea container carrying many tonnes of cargo.
The modern logistics sector still relies on all those things. But it’s added one more: data.
Today, every vehicle and route, every container and pallet, every parcel and envelope floats on a river of data. Every time a wand scans a barcode or a package is parked on a shelf, its identity and position are added to vast databases – with the data used to track, manage, and provide innovative services, all the way to the customer’s door.
These businesses live or die on the quality of their data – and the speed it travels. With similar-sized fleets and services they offer, data is often the only competitive advantage they have.
And that requires connectivity. Specifically, wireless connectivity. Vans can’t be tethered by cables; handheld terminals need to let people walk around; a wired WAN won’t work when a temporary warehouse needs to be built in a week, and even less when located close to distant ports.
But not any wireless. The need for always-on bandwidth and a 24/7 operational model means consumer-grade wireless services don’t make the cut. At least not for the logistics & transport industry.
Let’s look at the issues affecting logistics and supply management players – and put our solution into the mix.