Four-Layer Architecture for Product
Traceability in Logistic Applications
Jose Ivan San Jose, Roberto Zangroniz, Juan Jose de Dios
and Jose Manuel Pastor
Abstract In this chapter, we describe our work on the design of an auto-managed
system for the tracking and location of products in transportation routes, called Trans-
portation Monitoring System (TMSystem). Manufacturers, retailers and customers
require tracking of goods in production and distribution lines. Automatic Vehicle
Location (AVL) Systems are being introduced in many cities around the world. These
systems are aimed for cost reduction purposes, and also provide optimization of time
and resources. Companies usually control the quality of their production during the
manufacturing phase, but products can also be controlled along the distribution and
transportation phases, before they are delivered to customers. When controlling all
the phases, including also the location of the transport, a large amount of data (Big
Data) will be generated, and should be processed in order to get useful information,
and so all the resources in the company are optimized. A four-layer system is pro-
posed in order to provide an efﬁcient solution for the Real-Time Monitoring (RTM)
of goods. Two Web Services are proposed, Location Web Service and Check Order
Web Service, so that customers can easily access information about the shipment of
their orders. Finally, a Web Application is developed to access those Web Services.
J. I. San Jose (B
)·R. Zangroniz ·J. J. de Dios ·J. M. Pastor
Institute of Audiovisual Technologies (http://itav.uclm.es), University of Castilla-La Mancha,
J. J. de Dios
J. M. Pastor
N. Bessis and C. Dobre (eds.), Big Data and Internet of Things: 401
A Roadmap for Smart Environments, Studies in Computational Intelligence 546,
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-05029-4_17, © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014
402 J. I. San Jose et al.
In the dynamic and ever changing world we are living in, companies, which are
able to deliver products in a faster and better way, will be more likely to success.
Tracking of each unit of product should be performed during the manufacturing and
distribution phases, and the exact location and the environmental conditions of each
product can be determined at any time.
This is a critical issue, in particular, when the process involves handling of special
loads. The speciﬁc properties of this type of products, such as fragile or perishable
goods and whose quality needs to be preserved, mostly requires that the productive
process is carried out in a location where all the units can be completely controlled.
Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL)  provides real-time location information
for any mobile assets upon which it is installed. AVL is used for different tracking
purposes, especially for those related to tracking one vehicle or a ﬂeet of vehicles.
Tracking system technology  was made possible by the integration of several
navigational technologies, as Global Positioning System (GPS) , Geographic
Information System (GIS)  and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) .
The traceability and the tracking of products can be implemented in an economic
way by means of RFID (Radio Frequency Identiﬁcation) technology [6,7]. It can
beneﬁt consumers through improved product availability, speed of service, and qual-
ity insurance. The application of RFID technology  helps businesses improve
supply chain efﬁciency, generating a high added value by improving the distribution
process and optimizing the available resources.
The Electronic Product Code (EPC)  is a unique identiﬁcation code that is
generally thought of as the next generation of the standard bar code . It is stored
on an RFID tag and assigns a unique global number to each product. Therefore EPC
can be associated to speciﬁc product information, such as manufacturing date, origin
By means of this technology, a major reduction in the time required for processing
of orders is achieved, and the errors in the ordering system are also minimized.
Products are received from the manufacturers, for example, in pallets or containers
and in the picking tasks non-homogeneous loads are obtained by combining different
products as required .
This improvement in the traceability and tracking of goods is not only available
for companies, but for the customers too. In this way, the customer is able to know the
real-time status of its product after its delivery, as well as its geographical location
and other parameters. Besides, it is easier to allocate the responsibilities when they
are damaged or altered during the distribution phases, when real-time monitoring of
products is provided to the customer.
The traceability of any kind of product is monitored through any Smart Object
[12,13] using sensors and it is located on real time on a map with a GPS device.
Four-Layer Architecture for Product Traceability in Logistic Applications 403
These devices generate a large amount of data, which will be stored in a database
and will be ﬁltered in order to obtain the useful information and discard un-useful
The technologies and architectures known as Big Data were developed to store,
process and manage big volumes of data as quick as possible, or even in real time.
Big Data will be considered a complete system for working with large amounts of
data and combine them with existing databases.
Companies usually control the quality of their production during the manufac-
turing phase, but products can also be controlled along the distribution and trans-
portation phases, before they are delivered to customers. When controlling all the
phases, including also the control of the location of the transport and the information
generated by the sensors of the smart object in our system, a large amount of data
(Big Data) will be generated, and should be processed in order to ﬁlter the useful
All the data collected both from the sensors and the data sent by the GPS device, the
transportation can be faster and more efﬁcient, and the products will be completely
controlled till they are delivered. In order to transmit all the data, a smart object has
been designed for sending and storing data during the whole process of transportation.
This information can be queried at any time through a Web page or via an app installed
on any mobile device.
Most companies need their products to be monitored during production, storage
and distribution phases. Also, real-time ﬂeet location is needed for many companies.
Sometimes, this monitoring does not only include its location and real-time working,
but also the capability to get information about the environmental conditions or
physical situation of the products.
Customers can also use the system to collect some relevant information about
the products they buy, and check if they have correctly received their orders before
Our goal is to implement an RFID-based development deployed at four different
layers, which has been called Transportation Monitoring System (TMSystem). An
RFID system which is able to support passive RFID tags and Wireless Sensor Net-
work (WSN) nodes, and managed by a middleware capable of properly processing
all the generated data used for tracking each unit of product from its manufacturing
until its ﬁnal location, including transportation and also installation.
We will also provide a solution to two well-known problems in the logistics chain
by implementing the two Web Services that we are proposed: ﬁrst, the real-time
location of the transport and second, the checking of products at any time.
404 J. I. San Jose et al.
RFID is one of the most innovative technologies and promises important beneﬁts to
customers and businesses in object location and identiﬁcation. RFID is a generic term
that is used to describe a system that transmits the identity (unique serial number)
of any kind of object or person wirelessly using radio waves . To capture these
data, active and passive tags can be used.
RFID passive tags are used as they are a good solution for tracking products
along the distribution process and they are used in the ﬁrst layer of our proposed
RFID passive tags do not need maintenance and they are more widespread than
their active counterparts, so the required handling equipment is generally available
in buildings, such as warehouses. However, it is possible to use RFID active tags or
speciﬁc applications, such as sensors, if required.
AWSN provides RFID devices with important applications such as remote
environmental monitoring and target tracking. The sensors are equipped with wireless
interfaces with which they can use to communicate with each other to build a whole
network. Usually, a WSN consists of several sensor nodes working together for
monitoring a region to obtain data about the environment.
ZigBee  is a standard that deﬁnes a set of communication protocols for low
data-rate short-range wireless networking. ZigBee-based wireless devices operate in
868, 915 MHz and 2, 4 GHz frequency bands, at a maximum data rate of 250 Kbps.
This protocol is mainly targeted for battery-powered applications where low data
rate, low cost, and long battery life are their main requirements. Compared to other
network technologies , ZigBee has some features that make it a more suitable
choice for sensor and control networks.
IEEE 802.15.4/ZigbeeWireless Network is used for the communication between
different WSN nodes in the second layer of our proposed architecture. Sometimes,
the ZigBee network cannot be directly connected to a computer. In these cases, the
PAN coordinator is connected to a GPRS module that can communicate over big
distances in real time. By using this module, it is also possible to get the all the
GPS information, such as latitude, longitude and time, and this data are added to the
original product information.
All the data captured by the sensors and the GPRS module and send by the
transport vehicles, will be stored in a database every few seconds or even in real
time. When the user needs that information, it will be processed, to ﬁlter the useful
in formation, and it will be shown in the corresponding Web Service.
Web Services  are technologies that integrate a set of standards and protocols to
exchange data between applications developed in different programming languages
and they can run on any platform. We can use the Web Services to exchange data in
both private computer networks and the Internet. Interoperability is achieved by open
standards. Organizations such as OASIS and W3C are responsible for indicating the
type of architecture and Web services regulation.
Four-Layer Architecture for Product Traceability in Logistic Applications 405
Web Services are loosely coupled software components that offer standardized
interfaces based on mainly two languages: the Web Service Deﬁnition Language
(WSDL) which is used to deﬁne the syntax of the interfaces, and SOAP which
deﬁnes the format of messages that are exchanged when invoking services.
In the Future Internet [19,20], real-world devices will be able to offer their
functionality via SOAP-based Web Services (WS-*) [21,22] or RESTful APIs [23,
24], enabling other components to interact dynamically. The functionality offered
by these devices is often referred to as real-world services because they are provided
by embedded systems that are related directly to the physical world.
The Internet of Things (IoT)  is a novel paradigm that is rapidly gaining
ground among recent wireless telecommunications. The basic idea of this concept is
widespread about a variety of things or objects, such as RFID tags, sensors, actuators,
mobile phones, etc., which, through unique addressing schemes, are able to interact
with each other and cooperating with their neighbors to achieve common goals.
The main force of the idea of IoT is the high impact that it will have on several
aspects of everyday life and behavior of potential users. From the point of view
of a private user, the most obvious effects of the introduction of IoT are visible in
both working and domestic ﬁelds. Likewise, from the perspective of business users,
the more obvious consequences will be also visible in ﬁelds such as, automation
and industrial manufacturing, logistics, business/process management, intelligent
transportation of people and goods.
Two Web Services have been implemented as applications of the possibilities
offered by the proposed architecture and the use of Big Data. The ﬁrst one is an
application to locate the transport on the route map. The location of all the transports
is available through a GIS.
OpenStreetMap (OSM) [26,27] is used as GIS because it is a collaborative project,
which aims to create free editable maps all over the world. Besides, it has an Open
Database License (ODbL). OSM services are free for non-proﬁt users, who can
improve the maps and the information they include. OSM integrates all the data in a
unique and editable database with information of all countries in the world.
The OpenStreetMap Foundation  is dedicated to encouraging the growth,
development and distribution of free geospatial data and to providing geospatial
data that anyone can use and share. It is an international non-proﬁtable organization
supporting, but not controlling, the OpenStreetMap Project.
To include several layers in our OpenStreetMap, as point of interest or trafﬁc, for
example, OpenLayers  is used. OpenLayers makes it easy to enclose a dynamic
map into any Web Page. It can display map tiles and markers loaded from any source.
OpenLayers has been developed to further use geographic information of any
kind. We decided to use it because it is completely free developed under Open Source
OpenLayers API last stable version is 2.13.1 .
The second Web Service is intended for customers to check their orders in real
time. So, customers only should query a web page in order to get this information that
is stored in a database. In addition, they can check other features of their orders such
406 J. I. San Jose et al.
Table 1 Comparative of technology
Location Data transmission Data storage Data processing
technology technology location location
London iBus GPS GPRS/LAN AVL centre and
AVL centre and
Sydney PTIPS GPS GPRS AVL centre and
Goo-Tracking GPS GPRS AVL centre AVL centre
GPS WLAN/WiMAX AVL centre AVL centre
RFID and WSN RFID WSN AVL centre AVL centre
A.V. Tracking GPS GSM/GPRS/RFID AVL centre AVL centre
TMSystem GPS GPRS/WLAN/WSN AVL centre and
as temperature, humidity or any other kind of environmental condition depending on
the type of product.
1.4 Related Works
At present, beyond the simple management of vehicles , which comprise a ﬂeet,
different ways of working are essential, related not only to the management of the
vehicle itself, but going a step further, related to the goods carried within them.
Therefore a new set of technologies is necessary to meet the needs that allow us to
be able to offer services that enable monitoring, tracking and traceability of products
contained inside the cargo area of vehicles that come into play to implement this new
AVL Systems are being introduced increasingly in many cities around the world
. The objective is to improve the efﬁciency of the road-based goods and passenger
transport systems. Satellite-based location and communication systems, particularly
the GPS, have been the infrastructure needed for AVL systems. Also, we can ﬁnd
AVL Systems based on RFID technology.
On one hand, most of the AVL Systems are using GPS as the main location
technology. London iBus  and Sydney PTIPS  are examples of public; Goo-
Tracking  and VANET  for ﬂeet control are systems that use GPS as location
On the other hand, we can ﬁnd AVL systems based on RFID, as systems that use
RFID and WSN  or automatic vehicle tracking .
In a more visual way, we compared the different systems in a table. Table 1shows a
comparative between TMSystem, and the systems mentioned before. In this table, we
compare the location technology, data transmission technology, data storage location
and data processing location of each system.
Four-Layer Architecture for Product Traceability in Logistic Applications 407
Table 2 Comparative of applications
Real-time/ App. for mobile Show information Sensors
Estimation location devices on a map
London iBus Real time No No No
Sydney PTIPS Real time No No No
Goo-Tracking Real time No Yes No
Real time Yes Yes No
RFID and WSN Estimation No No No
A.V. Tracking Real time No Yes No
TMSystem Real time Yes Yes Yes
Table 2shows the different applications that have been developed in each system,
as real time/estimation location, app for mobile devices, if the system shows the
information on a map and if the system has sensors.
Apart from the systems previously mentioned, in a more professional environ-
ment, transport of goods, as SEUR, MRW, Nacex, FedEx, US Postal, etc. show little
information about the products that they carry out. They only indicate date, time and
place of departure from the origin and the intermediate points; and the date, time and
point of delivery, too.
They do not show neither information from the rest of the transport of the prod-
ucts, nor information from sensors within the transport vehicles. For example, if
the products are perishable or special loads that must be continuously monitored to
make the process of traceability correctly, they do not show data of temperature and
2 Proposed Architecture
The proposed architecture must control the location and environmental conditions
of any product at any time. To achieve this goal, the system is distributed into four
layers, as shown in Fig. 1.
The ﬁrst layer is made by the products themselves and/or the boxes where they
are. The second layer corresponds to the pallets/containers of the product boxes
that can be formed by non-homogeneous loads. The third layer is made up of the
transportation methods to move the pallets/containers from its origin to destination
warehouses. And ﬁnally, the fourth layer consists of several Web Services where the
ﬁnal applications are implemented.
408 J. I. San Jose et al.
Fig. 1 Four-layer model
2.1 Product Layer
The passive tags attached to each unit of product, as shown in Fig. 2, constitute
the ﬁrst layer, and can communicate to a closer reader. No additional devices are
required for these tags, as their only task is sending their own identiﬁcation codes
to the antenna. Furthermore, reading all the passive tags in a pallet usually require
going through a reading arch with several antennas.
In the picking processes, each pallet can be made of different units of product,
layers of the same product, or any other option for mixing the products in order to
complete speciﬁc demands. So, the system collects all the data from the passive tags
through the readers implemented in the ﬁrst layer.
2.2 Pallet/Container Layer
WSN  nodes, as the one shown in Fig. 3, made up the second layer and contain
the whole information related to the pallet. They communicate to each other creating
a wireless network.
WSN nodes have a double mission: on one hand, they store the information
regarding RFID tags within the pallet and, on the other hand, they are able to create
a radio network that can reach a wider range space, like a warehouse, a ship, a truck,
Four-Layer Architecture for Product Traceability in Logistic Applications 409
Fig. 2 WSN node in a pallet
Fig. 3 RFID tags in products
410 J. I. San Jose et al.
2.3 Carrier/Transport Layer
A Personal Area Network (PAN) coordinator is used to manage the information
requested or sent by the nodes within the network. This coordinator is a special
WSN node that incorporates a GPS (Global Positioning System) sensor and a GPRS
(General Packet Radio Service) module. It is capable of sending the information in
real-time, so that the status of the load is available in the logistics database.
Besides, its exact position is continuously monitored, so the tracking of the load
on land, at sea, or even by air can be worldwide performed in this way.
2.4 Web Services Layer
The fourth layer is the web service layer. As application examples, two web services
have been implemented.
The ﬁrst Web Service that we implement consists of a service to locate the transport
in real time by means of a GPRS module and OpenStreetMap using OpenStreetMap
API v0.6 , which is responsible for displaying the GPRS module information
on the Web Application. Through this Web Application, customers can access to all
data, and they can know where their order is at any time in an accurately way. In
addition, they can query information about the route, the estimated arrival time to
the warehouse and the exact location on the map of the transport route.
On the other hand, by means of the second Web Service the customers can check
their orders anytime. Furthermore, several RFID readers are used to collect all the
data at the manufacturing warehouse and this information is stored in the WSN node
of the second layer, so goods can be real-time monitored by the customers.
Automatically, when customers check their order, the Web Service reads the infor-
mation from the WSN node and compares it to the ordered list of items, which is
stored in the database. This information about the customers order will also be dis-
played on the Web Application. For example, if the customer orders 10 products and
the RFID readers only read 8, the Web Application will detect which products have
been received within the shipment and which not.
One of our goals is that the Web Applications can be correctly displayed on
any device (computer, tablet or mobile phone) and by any web browser so the W3C
standards  are fulﬁlled, as they are compatible with several web browsers. Conse-
quently, customers can check their orders from any place, using any device connected
A unique username and a personal password is provided to each customer, so he
can only check his own order and access his own information, as this data is stored
in the system database.
Four-Layer Architecture for Product Traceability in Logistic Applications 411
Fig. 4 Block diagram of
3 System Description
Once the theoretical model of the system has been presented, in this section we
describe how the real system has been implemented and what components and pro-
tocols have been used in our system.
As previously mentioned, RFID passive tags are a good way for tracking products
along the distribution process and they are used in the ﬁrst layer of our model. RFID
passive tags are cheap, can store up to 128 Kbytes of data, and one RFID reader is
capable of reading several tags at the same time.
Besides, passive RFID tags do not need maintenance and are more widespread
than its active counterparts, so warehouses, generally, possess the required handling
equipment. However, it would be possible to use active RFID tags, if needed. WSN
nodes are part of the second layer. These nodes contain information regarding all
the products within pallet. Initially these data consist on the identiﬁcation of the
products. Additionally, the situation of the different layers of products within the
pallets created during the picking can be added to the WSN node.
Other data provided by sensors can be integrated into the WSN node data, such
as temperature or humidity, for example. Any problem in the picking process along
the distribution chain will be recorded in the WSN node memory, so we can check
this information using any device, like a computer, tablet or even a mobile phone.
Basically, a WSN node consists of a microcontroller, a ﬂash memory, a radio
transceiver, a power source and several sensors. Figure 4shows the block diagram
of a WSN node. Each WSN node is capable of monitoring several parameters by its
enclosed sensors, and it stores this information in its ﬂash memory. So, when it joins
a network, the node sends these data to the network coordinator. A critical issue to
be considered is the battery life of the WSN nodes.
To reduce the power consumption the WSN node will be asleep (low-power mode)
most of the time, and it will only wake up to acquire the sensor data or to talk to
Several sensors have been included in the WSN nodes to get information related
to the environmental conditions of the pallet. In our ﬁrst prototype, only temperature
412 J. I. San Jose et al.
Table 3 Comparative of wireless protocols
Bluetooth Wireless protocol Wi-Fi ZigBee
UWB forum and
Wi-Fi alliance ZigBee alliance
IEEE 802.15.3a IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n IEEE 802.15.4
Topology Star Star Medium-dependent A11
Range 10 m 4–20 m 10–100 m 10–300 m
Rate 723 Kbps 110 Mbps–1.6
10–105 Mbps 250 Kbps
Comsuption Low Low High Very low
Nodes (max.) 8 128 32 65000
and humidity sensors were implemented. Afterwards, if necessary, more types of
sensors may be added depending on the products and according to future needs.
In the third layer, pallets are grouped together and the WSN nodes form a wireless
network. Table 3shows a comparison of the major wireless protocols.
Apart from what is inferred from this table, it is important to point out the following
features of the ZigBee protocol  from the point of view of the proposed system:
•The use of license-free frequency bands: 2.4 GHz or other of the sub-GHz regional
•Specially designed for implementation of sensor, monitoring and control applica-
•Low complexity (low memory request).
•Low power (devices can be powered by batteries).
•Mesh networks (that feature is not found in the majority of wireless network
– Multi-hop routing protocol (Ad-hoc On-Demand Distance Vector).
Therefore, the ZigBee protocol stands out as the most reasonable choice to imple-
ment the required monitoring system. This system will be based on ad hoc, low
demand and a low power-consumption network. ZigBee is a constantly evolving
standard, with a broad support from the semiconductor industry that is being adopted
for standardizations on wireless sensor networks.
The communication range of the WSN nodes depends on the environmental
conditions. A ZigBee network reaches distances over 200 m among nodes (this
distance is about 6 m in case of passive tags and RFID readers). This range can be
greatly increased at the cost of reducing battery life. However, if it is necessary, a
Four-Layer Architecture for Product Traceability in Logistic Applications 413
multi-hop network by means of routers can be established in order to communicate
with the network manager (PAN coordinator).
Sometimes, the ZigBee network cannot be directly connected to a computer. In
these cases, the PAN coordinator is connected to a GPRS module that can commu-
nicate over big distances in real time. By using this module, it is also possible to
indicate the GPS coordinates where the load is located, so the traceability data are
added to the products information.
Also, the WSN nodes are used as intermediate storage devices. Wherever there is
no coverage, and the GPS/GPRS module is unable to send the location of a transport,
the WSN node will send the GPS information when the GPRS network is available
The information provided by the GPS connected to the PAN coordinator can be
used for locating the transport on an OpenStreetMap application using the Open-
StreetMap API v0.6. The location information obtained through the GPRS module
will be used in the fourth layer of our model.
All the data (Big Data) provided the GPS/GPRS module with the location infor-
mation, and all the data obtained by the different sensors included in every WSN
node, will be sent in real-time or every few seconds to the Server and to be stored in
a MySQL database.
Once this information is stored in the database, when it is requested by the cus-
tomer through one of the Web Services, these data will be processed and ﬁltered in
order to provide the requested information to the customer: location of the transport,
real route, estimated time of arrival, estimated distance to the destination warehouse,
information collected by the sensors at the time of the query, etc.
With all this data, we can also perform the traceability of any kind of product
during its life cycle. Depending on the speciﬁc features of each product, for example,
if there are perishable goods in the transport, we can query at any time its state of
preservation, since it leaves the origin warehouse until it reaches the destination, and
in the route between both places. If there is any event or alarm condition detected
during their life cycle, it would be stored in the WSN node.
On the other hand, the delivery routes are stored in other databases. The storing of
these routes will be used for optimizing the delivery of products in a more efﬁcient
way in future distributions, using shorter or faster routes, for example.
To query this information, we have developed a Web Application, with two Web
Services, based on regular client-server architecture where the client requests through
a web browser for services from the web server, as can be seen on Fig. 5. In our local
network we use a database server that provides access, security and storage for all
the data of our system. All the information provided by the GPRS module is stored
in a database.
The regular client-server works as follows: the client requests through a web
browser the services from the Web server. In our local network we have a database
server that provides access, security and storage for all the data of our system. The
information provided by the GSM/GPRS module and stored in a database, which
will be accessed by the OpenStreetMap application, and thus it will be able to display
all the information in the Web Application.
414 J. I. San Jose et al.
Fig. 5 Client-server architecture
4 Web Services Implemented
In this section, we describe in detail the two Web Services we have proposed. As
previously mentioned, we have developed two Web Services in the fourth layer of
our model. Afterwards, more Web Services can be added easily.
One of the goals is that customers can only query their own invoices and their own
routes on the map, but not the orders or routes of other clients. Therefore, they have
a proﬁle in the system with several information, such as: name, surname, address,
phone number, fax, Web Page, e-mail, etc.
For this reason and shared by the two Web Services we have implemented, each
client has a unique username and a password to log into the Web Services system.
With this information, the clients obtain privacy and security in their orders and in
the routes in which the orders are shipped.
The username of each customer will be associated with their orders and their order
routes in the database, as we can see in the Fig. 6. Additionally, more ﬁelds can be
deﬁned in each table and more tables can be added, if necessary.
Futhermore, we can denote that the system can be adapted to transport any kind of
products: perishable, construction, computers, special loads, medicine, refrigerated,
As mentioned, another of our main goals is the Web Application can be accessed
from any compatible device and from any web browser. To achieve this objective,
we are using HTML 5 and CSS3 standards and we will try to develop a compati-
ble version with the most commonly used web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari
and Internet Explorer), also compatible with smart phones, tablets and computers
(independently on their operative systems).
4.1 Location Web Service
The ﬁrst Web Service is proposed for real-time location of transports and products on
a map. In addition, the clients can query the information from the different sensors
that are enclosed in the products they ordered.
Four-Layer Architecture for Product Traceability in Logistic Applications 415
Fig. 6 MySQL diagram
To develop this ﬁrst Web Service, the GPS data (latitude, altitude, longitude,
time, etc.) is necessary, providing the system with the information that we need
to locate the transport. The system processes this information to obtain the useful
data, and calculate the estimated time left to arrive and the estimated distance to
the destination warehouse. These data will be stored in a MySQL database . In
addition, the routes used by the products to be carried out, will be stored in another
database for future implementation of new Web Services.
MySQL is used as the database for the management system, because it is easy to
conﬁgure and is a widespread database. Besides, more ﬁelds can be added, if needed.
In addition, we create tables for customers and orders.
Once the information is stored in the database, we are able to read this data in
order to displaying it on the map. Previously, we need to do queries to the database
using PHP  for this purpose. Thus, we can locate the transport in real time on the
OpenStreetMap application. Besides, another type of information can be displayed
through the markers or balloons available on OpenStreetMap.
OpenLayers has few layers that can be enabled or disabled by the user. In our
OpenStreetMap application and through OpenLayers, the origin and destination
warehouses are displayed in the Marker layer. Besides, we can see the Route layer
and we can switch the map on the Map Base layer. Also, more layers can be added,
An example of a route in the ITAV Web Services Application is shown in Fig. 7.
We can see the origin and destination warehouses and the transport route. Therefore,
by clicking on the markers or on the route, we can check several data about the order:
416 J. I. San Jose et al.
Fig. 7 Location web service
information provided by the sensors, date and time of departure of the order, the time
left to arrive, etc.
One of the most important issues is that the complete route information in real time
can be shown. So, the application automatically submits the query every few seconds
(20 or 30 s, usually) to check for any changes in the database, and, if necessary, the
route will be updated. A button has been also implemented in order to update the
information when the user needs it.
This Web Service also shows the number of the current and previous orders,
besides the number of the route used by the carrier in the different orders. Also
we can check the delivery information about a speciﬁc order: the Web Service will
indicate either if the order has left the origin warehouse or if the order has been
delivered to the destination warehouse. The Web Service will not display orders that
are still at the store.
Although the Web Service has been developed using the OpenStreetMap API,
Google Maps [46,47] is added as layer of our GIS. More layers, as trafﬁc information
for example, can be added if necessary for improving the efﬁciency of the logistics
in the distribution of goods.
Four-Layer Architecture for Product Traceability in Logistic Applications 417
Fig. 8 RFID stock control application
4.2 Check Order Web Service
For the second Web Service, the information related to the customers’ order and the
data provided by the RFID readers when the order departs from the manufacturing
warehouse is required. This information is also stored in the WSN node.
Therefore, this Web Service is splitted into two steps: the application for obtaining
the data from the RFID readers and the information of the products ordered by the
4.2.1 RFID Stock Control
First of all, the customer must place an order, which will be stored in the database.
Secondly, this information will be compared to the data provided by the RFID readers.
The order may be made in several ways: through a Web Page, by telephone, e-mail,
etc. Figure 8represents an example of a warehouse that supplies products to grocery
stores and supermarkets.
The next step is the development of an application to collect the RFID readers’
information. We have implemented a Visual C# application, RFID Stock Control, to
get all the information provided by the RFID readers. By means of this software, the
stock control of the warehouse is available, so the invoice can be printed, stored in
the database, and also at the WSN node.
As seen on Fig. 8, the RFID stock control application is displayed on a window
splitted into three sides: left, middle and right.
418 J. I. San Jose et al.
Fig. 9 RFID stock control:
•RFID Stock Control: Left side
The left side of the application shows the available stock of all products that is also
stored in the warehouse. In Fig. 9we can see the application section that is used to add
products to the stock. Also, the application allows delete products in the database.
The application can display more information. If the stock of any product is near
to be ﬁnished, the application will show a message with the product and the number
of units left in the warehouse. Similarly, if some products are near to their expiration
date, the application will show a message with the products and their expiration date.
By default, these messages will be displayed with less than 10 units of any products
or when the expiration date of products is less than 15 days. All the parameters are
conﬁgurable and adaptable to any kind of products.
The products may show large amounts of information, as we can see on the Fig. 10,
like: name, EPC code, price, stock and expiration date. Besides, more information
can be added, depending on the product.
Four-Layer Architecture for Product Traceability in Logistic Applications 419
Fig. 10 Product example
Fig. 11 Check order web Service
•RFID Stock Control: Middle side
On the middle side of the window, the application displays the units detected by
the RFID readers when all the products go through the antennas located in the RFID
arch. The button Update Order can be used to reload the order in case any product
•RFID Stock Control: Right side
The right side shows all the products in the invoice. Besides, it allows to print and
to store the invoice in the MySQL database. When the order has been validated and
stored in the database, the application automatically updates the stock of all products
420 J. I. San Jose et al.
4.2.2 Web Service Description
Once the RFID Stock Control Application is described, we will introduce the Check
Order Web Service, as we can see in Fig. 11. In this Web Service, the ﬁrst and second
level information is provided by the system.
The Web Service queries the database about the orders and compares the original
(right side) in the warehouse to the real one (left side) ordered by the customer. If the
order is correct, the Web Application will display a message on the screen indicating
this condition. If it is not correct, the Application will display a list of the missing
products. Also, the customer can check all the received orders.
In addition, the query can return more information related to the products, such as,
for example: expiration date, order in which they are placed or any type of information
that the customer needs about the units of product that he has requested.
Most companies need their products to be monitored during production, storage and
distribution phases. Sometimes, this monitoring does not only include its location
and real-time working, but also the capability to get information about the physical
situation of the products.
Customers can also use the system to collect some relevant information about
the products they buy, and check if they have correctly received their orders before
The proposed solution consists of four different layers of identiﬁcation and wire-
less communications, with passive RFID systems, WSN nodes, ZigBee networks,
GPS real-time location and web services, for improving the performance of exten-
sive tracking for special loads. Besides, an absolute traceability and visibility, which
includes real-time location of products, can be obtained during distribution or storage
and the ordering processes can be effectively automated.
As we use RFID tags, we also solve the tracing and tracking problem of any kind
of products and if necessary we will add different types of sensors to WSN nodes to
check temperature, pressure, humidity, shock or any other parameter.
The proposed system, TMSystem, provides a good reliability and quality control,
as it is even able to detect errors in any point of the chain. It will be implemented for
the location of any type of products by means of passive tags.
Special data collection using WSN nodes and the capacity to monitor the whole
supplying chain in a company for manufacturing any kind of products is also provided
by the traceability system. By this system, we will try to decrease the number of errors
that exists in the orders made by customers.
We will also try to solve two problems by implementing two Web Services that we
are proposed: ﬁrst, the location of the transport in real-time and second, the checking
of products at any time.
Four-Layer Architecture for Product Traceability in Logistic Applications 421
One of our goals is that our Web Application can be correctly displayed from any
device (computer, tablet or mobile phone) and using any web browser. Thus, we use
HTML 5 and CSS 3. The Web Applications is correctly working for Mozilla Firefox,
Google Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer at this time. Actually, we are working
in a mobile version.
In this section, we will perform a comparison among all the systems mentioned in
this chapter and ours, indicating the advantages and disadvantages of the TMSystem.
The advantage of TMSystem is that you can use existing city infrastructure to
transmit information via WLAN or WSN. When the user is not in the city or cannot
transmit via these networks, the data can be stored and transmitted later on through
GPRS, when possible.
Our system can display the location of the vehicles on a map in real time. This is
also performed by Goo-Tracking and Fleet/Convoy Management System. Also, the
data collected to the sensors that continuously control the temperature and humidity
of the products that are being transported can be queried at any time.
As in the case of Convoy/Fleet Management System, we also have developed an
application for mobile devices, both tablets and phones.
5.2 Future Work
As future work, we will develop more Web Services, both for customers and carriers,
in order to reduce the delivery time, and, also, we will add other types of sensors for
transport of any kind of goods.
Additionally, we will add sensors in the vehicles to get trafﬁc information in real
time and this information can be sent this to other vehicles in our ﬂeet through WSN.
Also, more layers in our system can be added.
We are now working with OpenStreetMap and OpenLayers for adding new layers
to improve the transport, in order to do it in a quicker and more efﬁcient way. For that,
a trafﬁc layer is added to the route map. Thus, the carriers will select, for example,
the faster route with less trafﬁc for each case.
The development of the app for mobile devices and for any operating system (iOS,
Android, and Windows Phone) is also pending to be completed, though the Android
app is currently in testing phase.
Our ﬁnal intention is to develop an architecture and software tools in order to
implement tracking and tracing applications in different ﬁelds: logistics, people track-
ing and Wireless Sensor Networks.
422 J. I. San Jose et al.
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