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Current Shipment Tracking Technologies and Trends in Research

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Current Shipment Tracking Technologies and Trends in
Research
Saud Assiri
Department of Information Systems
King Abdulaziz University
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
smasiri0001@stu.kau.edu.sa
Bahjat Fakieh
Department of Information Systems
King Abdulaziz University
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
BFakieh@kau.edu.sa
Mansour Alyamani
Department of Information Systems
King Abdulaziz University
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
msaifalyamani@stu.kau.edu.sa
Sahar Badri
Department of Information Systems
King Abdulaziz University
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
skbadri@kau.edu.sa
Abdullah Mansour
Department of Information Systems
King Abdulaziz University
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
ahasanmohammed0001@stu.kau.edu.sa
Amal babour
Department of Information Systems
King Abdulaziz University
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
ababor@kau.edu.sa
ABSTRACT
Shipping services are essential for transporting products, especially
with the increasing demand for online shopping. There are two
common types of shipping services, which are postal services and
package delivery. Both are using a vehicle with the other
transporting resources as a tool in their operation business
process. With several operational challenges in the shipping
market, such as gas prices, taxes, and the rise in the number of
customers, shipping services companies are facing many obstacles
that negatively affect the operations of the company. It may cause
delays, packages lost, and service delays, ultimately leading to
losing customers due to their dissatisfaction with the service
provided. Technologies would improve the operations of these
shipping companies. One way to achieve that is by designing and
developing a tracking system. This will reduce resource
consumption and increase customers’ satisfaction.
The purpose of this research is to gather additional information
about effective shipment tracking systems in order to find the best
available solutions for tracking technologies in the shipping
market. The paper will study how tracking shipments go through
the process, the most common issues, and possible development
opportunities. The value from this paper is to offer solutions that
will optimize and simplify the process of tracking shipments in the
shipping industry, in order to meet the market demand.
Identification of these solutions may lead to innovative ways to
develop the process of shipping services.
CCS Concepts
Information systems Information systems applications
Decision support systems, Mobile information processing
Keywords
Transport tracking system; Authenticated Tracking and Monitoring
System; Radio Frequency Identification; Global Positioning
System; Global Packet Radio Service; Automatic Identification
System; Infrared Tracking System; Hybrid Tracking.
1. INTRODUCTION
Shipping companies face many challenges in the delivery of
packages, such as tardiness in delivering the packages and loss of
orders. To cope with these challenges, shipping companies need to
develop their services to win a customer’s satisfaction and achieve
competitive advantages among their competitors.
Moreover, they need to keep up with the development and growth
in online shopping and a large number of orders to enable them to
deliver to end customers as soon as possible without any mistakes.
At present, there is a significant development in the services
provided by the shipping companies around the world. Therefore,
it is increasingly important to design and develop an authorized
system for tracking shipments that can be appropriate to provide
services in multiple networks [1]. This paper will explore the effect
of digital technologies that are considered as the main fuel of the
development process and how these technologies can help to
reduce costs and save time delivering the package to the endpoint.
Additionally, as cost and time are crucial factors that affect the
quality of service, the paper looks at a common issue that affects
the quality of goods delivery, which is the development of a
suitable route to meet service and cost to deliver packages from the
shipping depot to a set of customers [2].
A good route distribution, along with a developed tracking system,
will surely help in minimizing the resources used and consumed.
So, to keep up with this development, this research focuses on
exploring the most beneficial digital solutions and technologies to
address the problem of resources, tracking packages, and the delay
of packages delivery as well as exploring how a good tracking
system can help to avoid these issues.
2. LITERATURE REVIEW
One of the most important targets for shipping companies is to gain
the trust of their customers by paying attention and focusing on
tracking the shipment of packages [3]. Shipping companies are
looking into new technologies to implement in order to develop
their operation and their delivery process. The reason for
ICISDM 2020, May 1517, 2020, Hawaii, HI, USA
© 2020 Association for Computing Machinery.
ACM ISBN 978-1-4503-7765-2/20/05 $15.00
https://doi.org/10.1145/3404663.3404683
implementing new tracking technologies to vehicles is to monitor
the last-mile delivery that a truck takes during its trip to the final
destination. Monitoring the delivery vehicle allows carriers to have
a better understanding of the route that a truck takes, which can then
be analyzed to improve and enhance deliveries using information
and data knowledge [4]. It also can be used as a security measure,
by allowing the company to track its truck to make sure that it is
following the plan and working as scheduled [5]. In 2005, shipping
companies used the address verification system (AVS), which is
connected to satellites and trucks using GPS to track them [6].
There are many tracking systems and technologies available in the
market now; each has its advantages and disadvantages, and by
combining these techniques can support and improve the shipment
of the packages and tracking systems [1]. Examples of the tracking
systems and technologies are Authenticated Tracking and
Monitoring System (ATMS), Radio Frequency Identification
(RFID), Global Positioning System (GPS), Global Packet Radio
Service (GPRS), and Automatic Identification System (AIS).
3. DIFFERENT TRACKING PRICIPLES
3.1 Authenticated Tracking and Monitoring
System (ATMS)
The general concept of the ATMS tracking system is to use wireless
sensor packets to monitor the state of elements and environmental
conditions, collect various information from the sensor data, then
transmit the data through the INMARSAT satellite communication
system. This data is then sent to the appropriate ground stations for
tracking and monitoring. One of the most important aspects of the
ATMS tracking system is that it monitors the status, security, and
safety of the products in shipments along the scheduled shipping
route. The advantage of ATMS is the ability to track and monitor
shipments, whatever the mode of transport [7].
3.2 Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
RFID is a technology composed of contactless and non-line of sight
capture technology by using tags that are used to catch sightless
contact and designed to be an automatic process. It is a process
similar to barcode scanning with more advantages [8], as the tags
can be programmed to store much more data, such as lot and serial
numbers, customer order number, etc. RFID uses radio waves to
identify objects [9], and track shipments and products [10]. It uses
a unique identification code of products that needs to be transmitted
to one or more receivers. The components of an RFID system are
(1) a transponder (tag), (2) an antenna, (3) a reader [11].
RFID tags are classified into three categories of its products tag
(active, passive, semi-passive also known as semi-active). The
active tag contains both a radio wireless transceiver and a battery,
which is used to power the transceiver. It works by gathering
information from sensors available in its area, then stores it in the
readers [8, 12].
The passive tags reflect the sign of an RF signal that is sent by the
reader or transceiver and then adds the information by modifying
the reflected signal. It doesn’t use any battery to increase the
reflected signal power; each passive tag contains an antenna, which
is required to collect electromagnetic energy in order to awaken the
tags and reflect the energy portion to the reader.
Semi-passive tags are similar to passive tags by using the radio
transmitters as a source of energy for their transmissions. However,
semi-passive tags can be equipped with batteries to keep the
memory in the tags [8].
Active tags are the preferred tracking option because of their
advantages in communicating to distances longer than one hundred
meters. They also provide the functionality to read and write so that
a large amount of information other than the tag code can be stored
and transmitted. However, active tags have two drawbacks. First,
there is no guarantee that the technology provider will remain in
business, potentially affecting the interoperability of the system.
Secondly is the high cost for each tag, as the price for one tag varies
between $15 to $20 [13]. On the other hand, passive tags don’t
depend on a battery to power the signal, which leads to the low cost
of passive tags. They do, however, need to keep the tags and readers
at a very close distance to operate effectively, which limits its
applicability [14]. Currently, many companies are increasingly
adopting RFID technology to their products for supply chain
management because of its advantage on getting a real-time product
information along with history [15], including Wal-Mart one of the
biggest chain of departments stores and supermarkets in the US [9].
The development of RFID adoption has proved to improve
information on-demand visibility [16].
RFID advantages over other tracking technology include the ability
to either read-only or read/write. The read/write function can
operate repeatedly. It doesn’t require any line of vision in the
process, can work in different environmental conditions, and
returns a high accuracy level of data. In addition, it’s very secure
and has a very difficult formulate technology and there is no
duplication calculated process [4]. Instead, there are difficult
problems in RFID, which are the lack of standards for technologies,
data, application, legal regulation, and shielding effects that occur
in the presence of metal, liquids, and other conducting materials
[11].
3.3 Global Positioning System (GPS)
GPS is a tracking system that provides location and time
information for any shipment or product around the world, and it’s
a global navigation satellite system [1]. GPS technology determines
the location of the shipment or product in real-time by using the
numbered mobile communication network [17]. The way GPS
operates depends on the use of between twenty-four and thirty-two
medium-Earth orbit satellites that help GPS tracking devices to
determine their location, direction, speed, and time. The GPS
receiver receives signals from at least three satellites of the
medium-earth active satellites to calculate the distance. The
triangulation method is used to calculate the location by latitude
and longitude. The satellites send signals at very accurate times and
then the GPS tracking device determines the distance between each
satellite; after that, the GPS receiver can determine the location in
three dimensions [18].
3.4 Global Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
GPRS is a tracking application packet-based that uses a mobile
connection. It is part of the Global System for Mobile
communication (GSM) networks and implement by sending short
message service. The GPRS depends on the GPS system, which
gives a good tracking and tracing for goods [1]. Theoretically,
GPRS can provide a high transmission efficiency up to 171.2 Kbp/s
[19] and it supports IP protocol and X.25 protocol [20]. GPRS is a
packet-switched system that has an efficiency of 90% in data
transmission, which provides information in high-speed wireless IP
service. It has improved in the aspect of operational cost and
reliability [17]. GPRS uses an application to users for a public
communication mobile network. By the wide and the huge
coverage of the public telecommunications network, the user can
always be connected to the internet and its high speed in terms of
transmission. The wireless network that uses the public mobile
network is low in cost, extendable, unrestricted, and has a low error
percentage. Moreover, it is suitable for low data rates with high-
frequency usage communication [21]; however, it can’t provide the
condition of package (humidity, temperature, etc.) [1].
3.5 Automatic Identification System (AIS)
AIS is a tracking system of marine response that operates on a Very
High Frequency (VHF) radio equipment frequency range on water.
It is used primarily to track ships. There is some information that is
sent regularly from ships such as identification, position, style,
length, dangerous goods and sea gauge. It can also receive the
information that is sent by other ships in the area that VHF covers
[22, 23]. The system is used for detection, tracking and
identification of ships and is considered complementary to radar
[24]. In addition, it can be utilized for traffic forecasting,
assessment of navigation safety, experimental research,
infrastructure planning, and policymaking [23]. The advantages of
an AIS system are that it can produce a large amount of vessel
location data and it’s accessible commercially or open-sourced and
uses a technology that can process a single report of 2000 individual
reports in one minute [23]. AIS, however, faces problems in its
operation and application; the main issue is the error in data quality
entry. It requires the elements (vessel particulars, destination) to
have user inputs, and with the extensive data entry errors, it is
limiting the usefulness of the AIS system [24]. AIS is divided into
two classes: Class A and Class B. Class A of AIS is installed on all
international ships with a total tonnage of 300 tons of Gross
Tonnage [13]. On the other hand, Class B of AIS is used by smaller
ships [25]. New technologies can provide a variety of solutions that
can assist most shipping companies with multiple areas in their
operations process. Based on the current technologies and market
trends, most of these technologies focus on optimizing the route of
the delivery from depots to customers. Doing so will help in
improving service quality, provide an increase in customer
satisfaction and cut costs. These technologies, which shipping
companies are implementing to their trucks are very important,
especially to deal with a very common problem known as Vehicle
Route Problem (VRP).
3.6 Infrared (IR) Tracking System
IR tracking systems can track the position and status of packages
and people by using a small tag attached to an asset. Tags
periodically transmit an identity signal and a digital status. Ceiling
or wall infrared sensors capture signals from these signs and
transmit them to a centralized control system that accurately
determines their location and condition. The advantage of it is that
it’s easy to implement, goods can be easily packaged for
waterproofing and environmental conditions, it can accommodate
a high data rate and its capability of moderating the distance. Its
disadvantages are the IR line-of-sight characteristics required,
consideration of the transmitter and receiver position and direction,
its security is very low, which can lead to the transmission being
blocked, and finally, the transmission range may be reduced under
certain lighting conditions [26].
4. HYBRID TRACKING TECHNOLOGY
Hybrid tracking technology results from combining two or more
tracking technologies or systems to reduce their individual
limitations. One of the hybrid systems is the combination of RFID
and thermal energy harvesting systems. Semi-passive tags are
issued in its lifetime tags, due to the batteries to power its
application by putting a combination output direct current (DC)
voltage from radio frequency waves and Thermo Electric Generator
(TEG) energy source [27]. Another one used also in RFID is the
combination of the advantage of passive tags and semi-passive tags
by a hybrid-powered RFID sensor Wireless Identification and
Sensing Platform (WISP) to develop (H-WISP) [26].
5. ANALYSIS AND FINDING
The purpose of this paper is to investigate current shipping tracking
technologies trends that are available in the market and to provide
a better picture of these technologies and their features. This will
assist new organizations in the market to understand what
technology to implement or to assign to their researchers to work
in development. Most of these technologies depend on sending and
receiving data related to shipment location and traffic situations to
be analyzed in order to improve and smooth the process of
delivering shipments from point A to point B. The tracking
technologies presented in this paper are varied and can be used on
land or sea. However, the main purpose of these technologies is
tracking and collecting the required data in order to analyze it and
use it for improvement purposes. Table 1 summarizes the
advantages and disadvantages of the data collected during the
research on tracking system:
Table 1. Advantages and disadvantages of tracking technology
Tech.
name
Tech. used
Advantages
Disadvantages
ATMS
Wireless sensor
packets,
INMARSAT
satellite
Communication
[7].
Monitors
status,
security, and
safety of
shipment [7].
RFID
Radio waves
[9], tags contain
radio wireless
transceiver and
battery [8].
Real-time
product
information
and history
[28].
Tags might get
easily damaged,
unavailability
of technologies
provider, high
cost of some
tags, and some
of them rely on
battery power
[14].
GPS
GPS receiver,
satellites,
Numbered
mobile
communication
network [17]
Real-time
tracking of
location,
direction,
speed and
time[17, 18].
GPS signals are
affected by
buildings, trees,
and extreme
weather, rely on
battery power
[29].
GPRS
Mobile
connection
GSM networks,
GPS system
[1].
Provide high
transmission
efficiency [17,
19], doesn’t
require an
additional
network [9].
Uses mobile
connection
(GSM), can’t
provide
condition of
package [1], the
performance
affected by the
quality of the
coverage [9].
AIS
VHF frequency
range [22, 23].
Produce large
amounts of
data on vessel
location [24].
Depends on
users input [24],
mostly used for
ship tracking
[22, 23].
IR
Small tags
Easy to
implement,
easily
packaged for
waterproofing
and
environmental
conditions,
can
accommodate
a high data
rate and its
capability of
moderating
the distance.
[26].
IR line-of-sight
characteristics
require
consideration of
the transmitter
and receiver
position and
direction, its
security is very
low, which can
lead to the
transmission to
be blocked and
the transmission
range may be
reduced under
certain lighting
conditions. [26]
From the collected data, it is obvious that these technologies depend
on data transmission between two devices, which are considered as
the primary or main objective that makes the process of tracking
work. For that reason, shipping companies should invest the
required time and resources to implement the best tracking
technology that suits their needs and works well in the environment
that the company will operate in. Since the quality of data
transmission differs from one technology to another, it is important
to select the most reliable one that fits the company requirements,
with the fact that the use of tracking technology is essential for the
operation of these shipping companies. Companies that operate
mainly downtown require different technology than companies
focusing on rural areas or outside downtowns, where buildings can
affect the operation negatively. There are also companies that
operate in the sea, which ship large containers of goods between
coastal cities or from country to another; in some situations, one
technology might not be enough. Companies should look at all
these situations and conditions that have a direct impact on the
operation before choosing a tracking technology in order to save
costs and resources.
6. DISCUSSION
The collected information shows that choosing the right technology
should be based on the environment where these shipping
companies operate. Companies that operate mainly in urban or
downtown areas should implement a technology like GPRS, which
uses the mobile network and connection. This technology works
better in downtown because the mobile connection will provide
stable coverage between buildings in order to accurately transfer
data to be collected. This is unlike GPS, which connects to
satellites, and when being around or between buildings, the signal
becomes very weak and may not provide correct information. This
is very noticeable if someone is using the navigation system in their
car while driving in a downtown area and there were many
skyscrapers; the system will not function correctly, and the
information provided will be not accurate. For example, it might
show that the car is on a different street and this will cause the driver
following the wrong directions.
On the other hand, a technology like GPS can be the right choice
for companies operating in rural areas or medium-size cities, since
there are limited obstacles that can block or weaken the signal. GPS
does not require a mobile network to operate, which will be less
costly than using GPRS. As for AIS tracking technology, it can be
used by shipping companies that operate on the sea or those where
a part of its operation includes ships or large vessels. This
technology is used to track the ship by providing information like
location and speed. It can be used to track ships moving large
shipments by sea like cars from manufacturing facilities to dealers
in different countries. In addition, the data collected by these
tracking technologies can be useful to researchers participating or
working to provide solutions for VRP. Since the VRP is all about
using algorithms to find the best route from point A to point B, data
from tracking devices could provide information that might be used
in this regard.
7. CONCLUSION AND FUTURE WORKS
The timely, undamaged delivery of packages is one of the most
important services in order to gain customer satisfaction. Many
companies in the world improve and develop their shipping
services in order to improve customer service and gain their
satisfaction and repeat business by providing ways and means of
providing customers the status of the products, and the anticipated
time of arrival to the specified location in good condition without
any damage. The objective of this paper is to collect the tracking
technologies available and discuss how every tracking technology
works in tracking the packages and deliver it to provide error and
damage-free service. There are also other benefits from tracking
packages in the security realm as the companies can track their
packages and check that the trucks, ships, and other modes of
delivery are following the planned route and the scheduling plan.
Future efforts should include comprehensive research on the
available tracking technologies to get better results on improving
the delivery and shipment tracking system.
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Authors background
Your Name
Title*
Research Field
Personal website
Saud Assiri
Master Student
Mansour Alyamani
Master Student
Abdullah Mansour
Master Student
Bahjat Fakieh
Assistant Professor
Cloud Computing SMEs
Technology Adoption
Electronic Business
Electronic Commerce
https://bfakieh.kau.edu.sa/
Amal Babour
Assistant Professor
AI
Machine learning
Information Retrieval
Data/ Text/ Graph Mining
Sentiment Analysis
Algorithms
https://ababor.kau.edu.sa
Sahar Badri
Assistant Professor
AI
infrastructure
Computer Architecture
Simulation
Distributed Data Base
Statistical tools & Probability
Network systems
Security protocols,
Cryptosystems & Cyber
Security
https://skbadri.kau.edu.sa
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