The supply chain of the future is promised to be ultra-fast and automated. Very exciting, to be sure. However, let’s not forget that speed and automation mean nothing if your cargo doesn’t arrive in one piece. Shipping a container of wine glasses isn’t the hard part – not breaking any is. Damage prevention is always priority number one.
The many threats to your cargo
The threat of damage lurks behind many corners in the supply chain. Physical impacts from cramming, dropping or unexpected turbulence can crack your vases and squish your strawberries. Temperature deviation can turn pharmaceutical products deadly or freeze fish shipments into one giant ice cube. Water can wreak havoc on any shipment – violent tropical storms and imperceptible humidity changes can be equally damaging. There is also the underestimated threat of time. For many shipments, delays can mean spoilage, expiration or hastiness in handling.
The reason damaged cargo matters
Damage can come from mishandling and human error, or even from the climate and natural disasters. But no matter the source, damage to cargo can be a costly and time-consuming element of supply chain management. After all, the cost of damage isn’t straightforward. Some of the many knock-on effects of damaged goods include lost time, production standstills, added shipping costs, reduced customer satisfaction and claims management costs.
Damage prevention – is it possible?
We all want to avoid damaged cargo – but what can we do? The first line of defence is protective packaging. Bubble wrap, packing peanuts, foam, custom covers and refrigerated containers all protect goods against immediate danger. But while a protective layer is necessary, it has major limitations if it is the only line of defence.
Where protective packaging falls short
Let’s say your shipment of car windshields arrives and a third are cracked. The packaging was not protective enough. Was it extreme turbulence? Or the result of mishandling? If so, which supplier is responsible? Was it a freak accident, or part of a larger pattern? Detective work costs time and money, which you’ve already lost as a result of the damaged goods. Not to mention, detective work won’t get you anywhere if the evidence just doesn’t exist. Not knowing the root cause of damage is a serious limitation in preventing future incidents.
The second pitfall involves trying to prevent damage in the first place. When coordinating your supply chain, you ask: what mode of transport is suitable for these goods? What threats will they encounter? Evaluating large-scale trends and making strategic transport choices can’t be done optimally without high-quality data.
Real-time tracking: how does it prevent damage?
Of course, real-time tracking can’t keep out water from a leak or lower the temperature of your shipment. What real-time condition monitoring can do is complement protective packaging by revealing the true reason your cargo is damaged, right away. An asset tracking solution such as Visilion offers sensors for position, temperature, shock, tilt, humidity and light that provide a detailed picture of your cargo. Should an incident occur, you will be notified wherever you are.
An immediate notification of threatened cargo may mean being able to step in and prevent damage in the first place – if the situation allows it. More importantly however, it answers questions about when, what and who. This data is what makes it possible to deal with damage effectively. If you have no idea where to start looking, how can you implement changes that actually make a difference? With Visilion, now you know.
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