The importance of real-time information in Finished Vehicle Logistics

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15th October 2018

How software that delivers real-time information can help the automotive logistics market

Tracking cars in finished vehicle logistics

Like every industry, data, and our ability to access, store and manipulate it, is disrupting a whole range of processes, for the better.

When it comes to digitisation, the trick is to use technology to reconfigure how your business runs. For those of us who work in automotive logistics, especially finished vehicle logistics, we care a great deal about the ETA and the cost. That often leads to a discussion about managing disruption via weather, labour dispute or capacity bottlenecks.

To make it all easier to manage, we tend to group finished vehicles into batches and work on them; shiploads, trainloads and truck loads are all batches. We tend to report in batch too. After all, this saves time.  Doesn’t it?  Well no, actually it doesn’t!

 

Batch processing is already outmoded

In the not too distant future, any logistics system that reports in batch, such as daily reports - these are also technically, a batch - will be obsolete.  The reason is simple.  It’s all because of real-time track and trace.

More and more devices are available to the market that can geo-locate any car, at any time.  They variously work with 3G, 4G, and 5G in due course as well as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. What they all have in common is the ability to read the VIN from the ODB2 port and report it to a central database, when a car moves. Or, when the car needs charging.  Or, when its tyres need inflating.

 

Moving from batch systems to real-time solutions

As a result, tracking systems are now able to validate information from third-party suppliers. The issue with batch processing comes in the delays you get with the information.  For instance, what if the tracking system announces that it’s at the dealership but the logistics system registers still says that it’s in the depot awaiting delivery? How can you tell which is giving you the real picture? The answer is to switch to a system that processes information vehicle by vehicle, as it happens, on the ground rather than lists that are processed by batch, as ultimately. By getting all the systems aligned, no party has to wait for information and the data recieved is concise.

Each time a single vehicle is processed, the single record created about the vehicle is sent to a central database and compared with other messages. This means that everybody can see the most up-to-date status and plan, based on live information and live updates.

 

The benefit that real-time information can bring

The above scenario is just one example of how things can be different.

There are other benefits that can be derived.  Automotive manufacturers need third-party logistics companies to manage their deliveries. It’s specialist work and is often subject to hold ups, for a host of reasons, from weather to regulations.  Only software that works in real-time will give you a true picture of what is happening, anywhere in the world, at any given time.

Having information in real-time provides end-to-end supply chain control. When you hear about a problem in real-time it’s possible that actions can be taken to avoid certain scenarios. But this can only happen when you know about it in real-time.  Let’s face it, you simply can’t change what happened yesterday. It’s too late.

Given the regulatory changes in data protection in Europe, clients using our event management logistics (EML) system, which is designed exclusively for the automotive sector, have the peace of mind around the management of data.  Our system is fully real-time.

 

A flexible and readily available solution

Anyone in the market for FVL software tracking, would be best served by a system that is available on a Software as a Service (SaaS) basis.  Accessing this kind of information via a web-based solution, means that everyone in the supply chain has access and can report or check on the status of vehicles.

It also means that, as it’s sold as a service, it requires no additional infrastructure and can be accessed without any tinkering with existing systems.  Furthermore, upgrades are par for the course. 

If you would like to further understand the benefits that real-time information can bring to your finished vehicle supply chain, please contact our Director of Product Innovation, John Miller-Wilson on jmiller.wilson@sovereign-plc.co.uk.