It used to be that when you moved across the country, you and your stuff were separated for the duration of that move. Hopefully, once you saw the moving truck out of your neighborhood, it made it to your new home in another state (or country), unless you decided to follow it from start to finish. But advances in logistics and tracking make it so that many moving services now allow you to track the movement of your home furnishings from start to finish.
What makes this tracking possible?
Real-time or near-real-time tracking. Demand for knowing just where your shipment is, your package, or the entire contents of your previous home, is rising dramatically. It is no longer a "nice-to-have" so you can see where your home goods are, but a "must-have".
Movers use ELDs, or electronic logging devices, to report out multitudes of data while the truck is en-route to its destination. These ELDs are integrated into ERPs, or enterprise resource planning systems, that can filter the data and parse it to the reporting applications that are eventually accessible to an end customer. When you, as the end customer, log into your movers' website, you see the result of all of that collected data showing you where your personal possessions are.
But how does that data get from the ELD to the ERP system?
With such extensive cell phone coverage, truck shipments can be located via their cell phone signals. Data about the shipment, including if it is delayed or blocked by some accident or event, can be relayed back to the main system and used to update the reporting system. Depending upon the complexity of the real-time truck visibility and data solution implemented by a moving service, that data can be paired with other information, such as a route and traffic solution, to provide even more information to the company and ultimately the consumer.
What are the tracking limitations?
This all may seem like magic, but it does work. Through a combination of electronic data interchange (EDI), email updates, and now shipment visibility systems, there is an unprecedented amount of information available. But what if you are not using the whole shipment container for your home, but just a portion? Partial shipments are harder to track. Many existing systems can track whole shipments, but can't track when "less than" the whole truck is used for your move — this is where there may be multiple households packed into one multi-state move or even sharing of your home goods with a commercial payload; the whole truck can be tracked, but if the smaller parts of the shipment are then sub-divided, tracking those can be difficult. At this point, full truck tracking is the best indicator of where your home goods are.
Another limitation is when only email or EDI updates are available, the information is no longer real-time. This may happen because a truck is not equipped with the ability to upload GPS and EDL data because a truck is out of coverage or other reasons.
Finally, "want" versus "need" comes into play. The consumer may want to know every place where a truck is at a given time, but they don't actually "need" it, nor should they have it. Making truck locations instantly available can be a security risk or a burden on IT systems to handle and immediately distribute the traffic. Instead, making the key things available, such as estimated arrival time, when a truck passes through or stops in a major city, or other relevant and useful details, are often enough to satisfy you as the customer, so you know your belongings are safe.
End consumers are asking for ever more data to be in touch with their home movers, packages, or other shipments. Systems are available to make this happen so that you can see where your belongings are and when they will arrive.
For more information about moving services, contact a company like Baker Moving.