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IntelliTrans GVP platform and GPS technology delivering benefits for bulk & break-bulk manufacturers

by | IntelliTrans | May 9, 2023 | Blog

Since the early 2000s, well before the Internet of Things (IoT) was a buzzword, IntelliTrans has been partnering with customers to​ incorporate GPS data into cutting edge predictive models that drive cost savings, reduce risk, and improve customer service and sustainability. Throughout these years, we have worked with various providers to provide the best solution as GPS technology continues to evolve and adapt within the supply chain industry. As we look ahead, we are excited to leverage our decades of experience integrating GPS data with shipment data and historical data sets to create even more valuable insights for shippers around the world. 

A Brief History of GPS and Visibility Systems Helping Shippers

Our journey with GPS technology began in the early 2000s when a customer wanted to closely watch their refrigerated rail cars by tracking their location, temperature, fuel levels, and other essential aspects of their cars. The objective was to ensure that the products transported in the railcar did not exceed an acceptable temperature while in-transit. 

Years later, we collaborated with GE Rail and their VeriWise/Rail offering, which allowed us to harness the power of GPS technology beyond mere position tracking and included the implementation of sensor monitoring. The addition of GPS and sensors allowed us to integrate positional data with rail tracking information to enable the customer to create alerts around the railcar position to detect delivery and departures. However, this was during the early stages of sensors when the cost to deploy and reliability were challenges due to the requirement of wiring the units. At the time, these issues caused a barrier for most customers to adopt the technology since the cost outweighed the benefits. 

Joining Roper and TransCore in 2006 allowed us to integrate with a GPS business within the organization to solve more business problems. We successfully aided a customer with barge tracking by pulling in carrier status messages and converting the longitude and latitude data with the river and mile marker to create alerts for when the carrier status and GPS locations differed. This allowed the customer to monitor their shipments, including departure and delivery status. 

Customer Success Stories Using Real-Time GPS Supply Chain Visibility

In this time, IntelliTrans worked with a customer who produced caustic soda and helped them virtually eliminate the fines the Federal Railroad Association (FRA) was assessing against them for leaking rail cars. The customer installed GPS devices that recorded impact data and combined them with maintenance records of the rail equipment, showing the rupture disks were properly maintained. We created an alert within the Global Visibility Platform℠ (GVP) tool that allowed them to show that these cars were being humped by the railroad at excessive speeds, and the location and time of that event. Thanks to our solution, the customer proved that many of the fines were not their fault, saving them a significant amount of money which quickly paid for the entire cost of the GPS’s, sensors, and GVP solution. 

GPS data has helped our customers reduce fleet sizes, with one customer in the mid-2010s reducing their fleet by more than 10%. Overall, they installed 18,000 devices to help drive their fleet reduction decisions. This reduction led to significant cost savings after investing in the devices and tools to monitor their fleet.

Supporting Europe Using GPS in the Supply Chain

In Europe, the equivalent of AEI technology has not been widely deployed. This is mainly due to the different RF frequency bands allowed in the various countries and other country-to-country differences. There, shippers and rail carriers have used GPS devices to track their fleets with the lack of other technology available. We have integrated those data streams into our GVP platform for our rail customers to create the equivalent type of events like placement and release and achieve a holistic global fleet view that uses similar metrics around cycle time, transit time, origin, destination, dwell, and more.

More Than Just Fleet Visibility with Real-Time Alerts, Actionable Insights

IntelliTrans has successfully delivered visibility solutions, performance data, and predictive insights for rail, truck, and barge shippers in North American and European markets. Combining GPS, sensor, waybill, CLM, and rail equipment data, our platform offers customers a more transparent solution for better visibility of their fleets than companies that only support the aggregation of GPS data. In addition, as an independent party, IntelliTrans makes sure that all of the acquired data is available in an unbiased way, not just what may support the goals of a party with an interest in the outcome what the data may reveal.  

​​Customers leveraging IntelliTrans easily track and monitor their shipments with real-time updates on everything from location to temperature to required maintenance intervals. By incorporating these data streams into the IntelliTrans Global Visibility Platform, these customers gain powerful insights into the status and risk level of their active shipments. For example, our tools help shippers determine the best overall carrier choice for a shipment and route based on numerous flexible criteria. The same tools frequently identify railcars that are out of route days before the railroad tells the shipper. This real-time information allows them to quickly address any issues that may arise and make adjustments as needed. With our tools and expert operations teams, IntelliTrans is committed to helping our customers make their existing teams as productive as possible while helping them mitigate risks and reduce shipment costs by 5-10%.

The Future of GPS Within the Supply Chain Industry

GPS technology has become more robust and less expensive in recent years due to providers' continual advancement in devices and communications. This has caused what was historically limited to fixing niche business problems to become a viable solution for more shippers. IntelliTrans continues to partner with premier hardware providers for positional information and backhaul communications to solve problems economically and reliably.  

"We are excited about where the future is going with advancements in the hardware and communications technologies. These will allow us to deploy them more broadly and solve more problems now than we ever have before," Ken Sherman, IntelliTrans president, says.  

In the next couple of years, we see the future of hardware being able to drive cost reductions and safety improvements across the transportation industry. Our customers can look at railcar handling and determine if a visual inspection is required to ensure there isn't an anomaly caused by behavior detected through this technology. In addition, the reduced cost of deployment will increase the number of cost-reduction initiatives that can be undertaken. We are confident that monitoring and other technologies will result in more proactive maintenance, greater cost-effectiveness, and significant improvements to the safety of the conveyance, employees, and the public.