MONTREAL, Que. – Implementing new technologies in the transportation industry can be a slow process.
Unless the new technology has immediate return on investment, the industry doesn’t seem interested, which makes it hard to break in with new devices and tools, laments Sam Falsafi, director of business development and RFID Strategy for Ship2Save.
“It’s a tough industry and I don’t blame those companies for being skeptical, but slowly I can see it changing,” said Falsafi. “More and more people out there are embracing Web-based technologies.”
Ship2Save, based in Montreal, Que., has recently begun its journey into the world of fleet management and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).
“Our service is sort of an online e-Bay for load matching, and we offer a set of tools for tracking, mapping and RFID services as well,” said Falsafi.
Ship2Save caters to anyone in the transport industry. With only a simple piece of hardware, such as a cellular phone, a PDA or a laptop, both owner/operators and company drivers can benefit from these services.
“With just a user name and password, a whole new universe of fleet management and tracking is available,” Falsafi added. “We wanted to make it usable with very minimal hardware so it reduces costs for truckers.
“Reducing empty kilometres is huge for us. With our services it is simple to load match and pick up a load on the way home,” Falsafi said, pointing to one customer which has managed to reduce empty kilometres by 10 per cent by using its solution.
RFID technology enables not only tracking of the truck but also the products within it.
“For perishables it’s great,” Falsafi said, “You can practically prevent ice cream from melting, for example, because you can tell what state the product is in and the temperature and if the product has been moved around. The benefits of being able to acquire this information are huge.”
Loblaws, for example, has about seven per cent of its total perishable sales go bad each year, said Falsafi. Reducing that by even one per cent would translate into a huge return on investment for the company.
Often times, the driver gets blamed for things that go wrong with the shipment and for variables that are beyond his control, but with RFID technology, it’s possible to tell exactly where the trouble began and sometimes even prevent it before it begins, Falsafi said.
“We can pinpoint the problem and you can find out how it happened,” he said.
“And this will also help the transportation industry in terms of reducing insurance costs as well.”
Another niche market for such services is in the transportation of explosives and dangerous goods.
“With some of the new rules coming into play, explosives won’t be shipped unless you are able to track them real-time, so RFID could play a big role with this type of shipment,” he said.
A recent study released by the Aberdeen Group in Boston, Mass. reported that of more than 230 senior operations, customer service and supply chain executives, almost half said that logistics asset operations consume five per cent or more of corporate revenue.
More than 17 per cent said it consumes over 10 per cent of revenue and 25 per cent of companies say they lose in excess of 10 per cent of their container fleet each year.
Consequently, many of these companies expect their new investments in systems and the application of RFID technology to double the current benefits, according to the report.
Although these technologies were adopted by logistics and supply chain companies quite quickly, the benefits are being realized and the phenomenon is beginning to trickle down to transportation companies of all sizes.
Since competition is fierce in the transport industry Falsafi can foresee a chain reaction taking shape.
“It’s starting that people are not only seeing benefits for their own companies but for the entire industry which they are swimming in, so if one company catches on, they will be helping the industry and I think others will follow their lead,” said Falsafi, “and I think that is important to the function of our industry.”