In the not so distant past, shipping products meant putting them on a truck at the warehouse and hoping for the best that they wouldn’t be damage during transit. And when products were damaged, it was often challenging to determine exactly what happened and why. In some cases, products that were in perfect condition when they left the warehouse didn’t work upon arrival, even without any obvious outward signs of damage.
That’s becoming less common, though, thanks to technology and the development of shipping sensors. When used in conjunction with other tools, such as USB devices, wireless communication, and satellites, shipping sensors can provide real time information about the state of a package wherever it happens to be located. From shock and impact sensors that reveal whether a package has been dropped or experienced rough handling in some way to GPS and temperature sensors that reveal the location and exact temperature conditions of the transport vehicle, logistics managers have more insight than ever before into the state of their shipments, and the ability to make decisions and changes to improve operations that not only save money, but increase the efficiency of the company as well.
With that in mind, there are multiple types of sensors that companies use to keep track of their shipments. Following are some of the most common, and a short explanation of what they do and how they might be used.
Although some companies use thermometers to maintain a consistent temperature within their shipping vehicles, that’s not always the case. And when you are shipping sensitive technological equipment, maintaining a consistent, appropriate temperature is vital to the device’s proper function. Temperature sensors used in shipping monitor the temperature and moisture in the air, ensuring that the packages are transported safely, and identifying any possible issues that could lead to damaged goods.
Knowing whether a package was dropped or otherwise had an unacceptably violent impact against something else is important to maintaining the integrity of certain delicate products. Again, when transporting certain items like computer or medical equipment, an impact or shock sensor is an important indicator to the recipient that everything inside the packaging has not been compromised. In some cases, in particular when shipping chemicals or biomedical products, avoiding strong impacts is a is a matter of safety. Most impact sensors include an indicator that changes color if the package takes an unacceptable or excessive hit, warning the recipient to inspect the package closely if impact is suspected.
Vibration during transit can cause significant damage to your equipment, leading to thousands of dollars in losses. By monitoring vibrations while transporting equipment, you can identify trouble before it starts. Vibration monitoring is also useful for equipment at rest, as excessive vibrations can cause damage, and also be an indicator of a problem that needs to be fixed.
Many items need to remain in a flat position and should not be tilted at any point; otherwise, they could be damaged. However, many items are tilted (or worse) during shipping, especially when you use commercial carriers. Packages are sorted quickly, and during that process, it’s inevitable that some will wind up off-kilter. Because certain items should always remain upright, using a tilt sensor will ensure that shippers adhere to those conditions. If they don’t, a tilt indicator will reveal that the package was tipped past a certain point to unacceptable levels. Not only does this help prevent damage and support safety, but a tilt sensor will provide indisputable proof of improper handling in the event a product arrives damaged.
These are just some of the common sensors used in shipping and logistics. Some are designed to be used as indicators, changing color when certain conditions are met to provide a warning, while other simply log data regarding the handling of the shipment or equipment. The data from sensor logs can be used to identify where shipping problems are occurring and develop strategic corrections to prevent future problems. Although not all packages require use of these sensors, for companies shipping high-value products and materials, they are a vital part of protecting against losses and supporting customer satisfaction.