When it comes to reusable container management, data collection – and the intelligent use of the data being collected – will give you the insights you need to save money and increase efficiency. We often refer to collecting data on a container’s locations and movements as its “visibility.” However, too often, managers assume they need to see a dot that represents the real-time, accurate-within-a-foot movement of their asset. Keep these three things in mind when designing a system for container management:
How Precise is Necessary?
A lot of cost-savings within a system can be found during its design. Tracking every container to an exact GPS location is impressive, but it usually amounts to overkill – increasing the cost of the project so much that it never gets approved.
It is much less expensive to understand simply which building your asset is in than to know exactly where in the building. The same is true for shipment tracking: knowing where a package was shipped to, and the date and time it left (and arrived, if possible), is more efficient than tracking that asset the entire way.
The Practicality of “Real-time” Visibility
Understanding the role of “refresh rate” on your system design is critical. A refresh rate is how often tracking is “pushed” to the database, and its used by many tracking technology elements like tags.
Changing the refresh rate of your system from one second to five minutes may mean that instead of replacing a battery every three months, you have to replace it only every five years. Multiply that cost by the total number of batteries on all the assets you track, and it adds up. Throw in the cost of labor, and this can easily be the deciding factor in whether or not you can make budget.
Integration Fills Visibility Gaps
When you’re confident that an asset’s movement is reliable and predictable, spending your tracking budget to watch that asset follow the route repeatedly is not the best use of your tracking capital. You don’t need to track assets that aren’t costing you.
If confirmation is necessary, that information can be gained by using the suppliers’ advanced shipping notices (ASNs). Extra work is minimized by integrating with processes already in practice to gather additional data – not installing more tracking technologies.
Track the specific areas of your process that are low confidence, where you need the additional visibility to increase the level of confidence for a specific cost benefit – to avoid both over-tracking, and over-spending.