Data: Helping you get a move on

Published: April 25, 2018

Every enterprise has those key individuals that are linchpins to the organization. These individuals are called in to fix urgent issues as well as provide knowledge to different business units. They're also sometimes viewed as the "sages" of their businesses. The common adage of "tribal knowledge" usually resides in these individuals. And that knowledge is what makes the subject matter expert (SME) who he or she is. In the digital world, knowledge lies within the data you collect and hence is your best SME.

In the transportation and logistics industry, data is the key to several pieces along the value chain from warehousing to distribution. The common question, "Where is my order?" is the basis for this need to have data. Your current "sages" have a good idea or know where to find out where the order or freight is. They know what system to look at, what screen to key in on, and what field to interpret. They know the data.

In a warehouse, the data tells us where to "pull" the freight. The inventory data along with the resourcing in the warehouse enables people to know when and where to pull the freight. The data around which bay door and what type of trailer is stationed there allows for the correct freight to go to the correct location in the warehouse.

In trucking, data tells us where to place the freight depending on the number and the location of any stops for the day's delivery. On the transportation side, the Internet of Things allows devices to convey the location of the truck, its proximity to the destination, and whether special services (refrigeration, vibration etc.) for the truck are being adhered to. This is known as telematics, or the method of monitoring a vehicle to determine location, speed, as well as how that vehicle's internal systems are operating.

Telematics is the key to saving money on maintenance for a transportation fleet along with gaining a real-time view of the vehicle systems and driver behavior. The data around vehicle systems in a connected fleet give the opportunity for Maintenance Repair Organizations (MROs) to extend the life of vehicles through proactive care. It is not enough to have sensors to monitor and collect the data. We also want the systems that provide actions from that data and automate some, if not all, of those actions. For example, if a vehicle needs an oil change, the driver will certainly see the oil change indicator on their dashboard. The driver may let the terminal or station know that is the case (although not commonly done). However, if an on-board telematics device can transmit the information to the terminal, then the maintenance staff can plan to change the oil upon arrival of the vehicle or, in some cases, even have another vehicle available for the driver if issues that are more serious arise.

Data will allow us to be more proactive instead of reactive. Our current experts in the field or in the office usually react to issues or news and know how to resolve them expediently. Data as our subject matter expert allows us to get the information necessary to address an issue before it becomes urgent or something a customer has to worry about.

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