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Are you there? vs. Here I am…

Model trucks on a map with highways

There are multiple methods of geolocation.

Paul Clegg

Exploring Methodologies in Geolocation

Imagine you order a pizza for delivery. My favorite pizza place will let you know where they are in the process of fulfilling your order via text. It’s being made, it’s ready, it’s delivered. These are all instances of status messages. Sure, you might get the driver’s number to make a call to check where they are, and they could let you know, but it’s up to them and based on their availability. You can request their location, but it may not be the most accurate and it might not even happen. This is on-demand geolocation, an active way to track your delivery that relies on engagement from the driver.

Now imagine it’s your significant other’s birthday and you’ve ordered the perfect gift from several states away. The closer it gets to their birthday, the more eager you are to receive the package and have it wrapped in time. Services like UPS, FedEx, and USPS will provide you with a link that will tell you not only the time but also the location of where the delivery was initially picked up, where the package was transferred, and from what post office it is being delivered. This is passive geolocation, an automated tracking mechanism baked into the process that does not rely on engagement from the driver.

The difference between the two scenarios is the level of detail provided to you as a consumer.

Take the same concept and apply it to freight. Today, shippers want a level of detail that protects their business, providing solely status updates or on-demand geolocation is not enough. Below we’ll look at the disadvantages of using on-demand geolocation versus the significant advantages of passive geolocation.

Are you looking for a headache? Leave it to a human….

The simple fact is, most drivers don’t want to be tracked at all, but many top shippers require it to do business. Some carriers have tried to provide geolocation and general updates by having their drivers send status updates or use on-demand geolocation based on the driver. There are a few key problems with this method. First, the timeliness of the response is entirely up to the driver, which can mean inconsistent updates or even none if your drivers aren’t compliant. Are they manually providing on-demand geolocation while driving? Chances are they’re violating states laws to do so or being put in a position to stop or pull over when they otherwise wouldn’t have. Are they trying to manually provide updates, even after their contracted hours? If the answer is yes, they are leaving you potentially liable.

Passive geolocation automates the process of meeting shipper requirements for updates on set intervals, compliance with related labor laws, and ensuring timely, detailed updates without having to worry about the potential for human error. This is typically done using an electronic logging device (ELD) within the truck or a phone application that correlates the phone to a load. Each send electronic messages passively and consistently regarding the truck and its location. Once the load is configured within the system, the rest happens seamlessly without requiring any action by the driver.

Become the carrier your shipper dreams of…

One of the major advantages of passive tracking is a holistic view of your supply chain. As a modern business, brokerages and shippers expect a level of detail beyond the question, “Where is the truck?” Many are expecting EDI X6 standardization with geolocation on a consistent schedule, giving them the data they want, on the interval they want, in a way that flawlessly integrates with their digital infrastructure.

If you’re a major carrier consistently onboarding new trading partners—managing EDI with geolocation can expend your resources and take away time from your core business. If you’re a small to mid-market carrier, you may not know where to start. After all, isn’t just knowing where things are going good enough?

The answer is no. On-demand geolocation is like taking an old-fashioned Polaroid, you have the snapshot, but you’re not providing the whole context. EDI with passive geolocation, is like Instagram, you get a snapshot of key events along the freight journey, and you can take a bird’s eye view of the whole shipment lifecycle with increasingly detailed information. Shippers want both the snapshot and the bird’s eye view to make sure their investment is protected, and supply chain operations are streamlined. In some cases, making passive geolocation tracking with EDI integration is a must-have, not a nice-to-have.

If it ain’t broke, why fix it…?

So you might be sitting here thinking, “well that’s all well and good by why not just keep doing what I’m doing?” Consider the following: When a shipper is in a crunch and needs to ship an expedited shipment for a refrigerated (reefer) load, how do they pick who gets it? Having the technical capacity to deliver on passive geolocation powered by EDI, this simple layer of visibility, can open the door to top tier loads and lanes.

EDI is great, On-demand geolocation is fine, but if you’re looking to becoming the preferred carrier within your shipper’s network, to know that you are more than capable of meeting the demands of not only your current partners but anyone’s requirements, make it passive. Stop doing the work of geolocation and leave it to someone else.

If you’re currently using just on-demand geolocation and need to take the next step into EDI-integrated, passive geolocation tracking, let us help. You can contact Kleinschmidt directly.

About the Author

Jack of all trades and master of some. Software developer and freight enthusiast with far too many years of experience in EDI transactions.