Building an intelligent track and trace chain

When you are a recycling company with a fleet of containers, there are several logistical challenges. For example, you can have blind spots throughout the entire chain that entail many unanswered questions. Track & trace makes it possible to collect data and map out the flows. This is how you move to a strategic integration platform with real-time, in-depth insights.

Blind spots in your logistics chain

In a large recycling chain, there are many blind spots. It is a complex process with several steps and many moving parts. In theory you have mapped out your chain, but how does that actually work out in practice?

Suppose you are a waste company with a fleet of containers that are collected from different customers. When they arrive at the depot, they are scanned, emptied, cleaned, put on pallets and then loaded onto trucks again and put into use.

Several questions that arise are:

- where are my containers at the moment?
- at what time is the container in the depot, on its way or will it be picked up?
- what is the current condition of the container and when would it be due for replacement?
- what is the lead time of the entire chain?

You know there are containers, but you don't know the details at all. So you are in the dark when it comes to the status of the units, and also where there might be possible optimizations of the flow.

A realtime view

But how do you get a bird's eye view of all running processes? And do you eliminate those blind spots?

Firstly, you use a track & trace system of your containers via sensors. This can range from a simple RFID tag to purpose-built IoT.

But you want to go even further and collect data throughout the entire chain. This requires a deep integration architecture. In one platform we connect existing IT systems for operations, for example, ERP systems or CRMs. In the same platform we connect partner systems of your suppliers or customers. Finally, we connect with the IoT-sensors. The result is one platform where everything comes together.

Widespread availability of sensors

The presence and the possibilities of sensors have increased enormously in recent years. Sensors have become affordable and the quality is also increasing. That is why it is interesting to start tracking with simple sensors.

RFID tags and their readers have become available to the general public. This makes it feasible to provide large fleets of containers with these tags and thus make them measurable.

Active tracking of containers via purpose-built IoT has also become more accessible. This IoT itself sends relevant data 'in the field', such as the filling level or location of the container.

Mapping the complete value chain

So you now know where the containers are, at what place, but also where in the life cycle. The data is collected from all channels through all the different steps of the value chain. By constantly measuring and collecting this data, we can enrich data and also look at data from history and make predictions for the future.

Thanks to these real-time insights via a central hub, you can answer business questions and provide strategic added value. This way you can map out and improve different flows:

  • you know where the containers are
  • you know at what time the container will be in the depot, on its way or when it will be picked up
  • you have knowledge of the current state of the container and when it needs to be replaced
  • you know the lead time of the entire chain

Real-time track and tracing therefore goes beyond measuring sensor data. It is more than implementing track & trace data and solving blind spots.

Mapping all data flows gives you a complete view of the entire ecosystem in real time. It is a true cockpit that leads to in-depth insights.

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