What Is Geofencing in Logistics?

In today’s unpredictable global logistics ecosystem, a company must have as detailed an understanding of its operations as possible. Part of that includes knowing where assets are at all times. The solution for real-time asset visibility hinges on accurate, available, and quality location data that bolsters geofencing’s logistics role.

Meanwhile, the instability of global markets and a sluggish supply chain mean companies must know where and when their goods are within the freight process. That’s especially true as the driver shortage worsens and inflation continues. Now consider the other risks mounting around asset resource management–managing drivers or the lack thereof.

The American Trucking Associations organization estimates that the 2021 shortage capped at 80,000. Sergey Zaturanov, writing for Forbes, stated that if this trend continues, the trucking industry could need more than 160,000 drivers by 2030. Combined with the pandemic and the supply chain crisis, the truck driver shortage is causing major bottleneck issues in delivery. Therefore, consumers and entrepreneurs need to know what to expect in the coming years.

The lack of drivers brings about an environment of limited resources, much like the lack of access to capacity. Both will cause problems, and in a technology-driven world, there are more solutions than ever for companies to turn to understand their internal logistics. Polygon geofencing is one such solution, but with the current glut of software and solutions, where does a company turn, and how do they know what technology or geofencing software is right for them?

What Is Geofencing in Logistics Precisely?

It’s always best to start at the beginning, asking, what is geofencing? First, consider the basic geofence definition: a virtual boundary or fence anywhere on earth. When those geofences are associated with points of interest along the supply chain where freight loads are transferred—harbors, terminals, warehouses, and distribution centers—users can precisely understand how their logistical operations work or don’t when properly analyzed.

This kind of precision has been previously difficult to obtain because adequate geofencing data was lacking.

Carriers and brokers struggled to track their freight and assets accurately between logistical nodes, and receivers struggled to manage freight transfers efficiently.
Without a precise understanding of their logistics, companies can only estimate arrival and departure times and time spent on site. However, the application of geofencing in location services has changed the narrative. Guesstimating these key operational metrics has been the norm; however, preciseness is mandatory in a post-COVID disrupted supply chain. So, how does a company go from an uncertain cumbersome understanding of its own performance to gaining clarity and competitive advantage? It’s not as though logistics managers can ride along in the cab of every freight asset.

Or can they?

With geofencing, companies are finally in the driver’s seat. But what is geofencing?

Conceptually, geofencing is leveraging the exact boundary for a location derived from a location’s physical perimeter, something already being used in many popular applications—Uber pick-ups, Amazon drop-offs, Google driving maps. A more familiar example is to consider one’s backyard. Here the geofence is the border that defines the perimeter of the yard.

In logistics applications, a freight load crosses a defined geofence issuing an alert, which then signals managers in the supply chain-shippers, receivers, and load boards. This geofencing signaling data becomes the linchpin in creating valuable location information. Receivers using logistical software can begin efficiently preparing for arrivals, shippers know precisely where their freight is, and load boards can expedite load assignments.

The answer to what geofencing is becomes simple: it is how companies gain more significant information about asset management through automated alerts. As a result, this removes the risk of human error, data is more accurate, and improves decision-making.

Traditionally, these geofences have been “circular geofences,” which means that the GPS perimeter is circular with a single data point defining the center. But let’s think back to the backyard example: what’s the best way to determine a property’s boundaries accurately?

Building a circular fence would cut off corners and odd angles, which could be an issue if it neglected an important gate or failed to identify a critical hazard. The solution is to build a fence that captures all essential features: by building a fence that mirrors the perimeter of the enclosed area, freight management parties can make full use of the resources they have and stay in the know. Rather than worrying about what geofencing is, it’s easiest to remember that it’s the key to maximum logistical efficiency, profitability, and safety.

A location boundary geofence–or polygon geofence–allows a company access to the exact borders of its desired location. With polygon geofencing, a company can use a geofence that works for the real world. Location data is rarely perfect and often dynamic; with automated, real-time polygon geofencing, logistic managers can be confident in their understanding and reliance upon geofences.

How Does Geofencing Work and How Do Different Freight Parties Use It?

Now, it’s time to think a bit deeper into the questions: what is geofencing, and how does it work?

Geofencing is an asset tracking technology. It relies on transmitters on a given asset, e.g., tractors, trailers, trucks, or containers. Transmitting devices can be as simple as a driver’s cellphone or incorporated into more sophisticated telematics hardware such as electronic logging devices (ELDs). It’s important to note that, although transmitting technology evolves, geofencing is immediately adaptable and never becomes obsolete. Therefore, your investment in geofencing is not at risk of losing value.

Tracking occurs when an asset, equipped with a transmitter, crosses a geofence boundary and automatically sends a notification received through email, text, or software intercept chosen by the logistics manager.

Software Vendors

Another factor to consider when considering geofencing and its application is its uses within telematics. Companies are capable of unprecedented precision in their asset tracking by embedding accurate, robust geofencing databases into current logistics software applications. With geofencing technology, a company no longer has to settle for vague asset locations like “inbound” or “‘in-transit.” Instead, geofencing allows a company to work with precise locations.

The advantages are apparent. The moment a freight asset crosses the geofence boundary, the entire supply chain—manufacturing, shipping, and receiving—can be notified. The real-time information generated by location services using geofencing signaling data can give insights into productivity. Geofences in location services could save both money and valuable time.

Freight Brokers That Need to Track Movements

When asking what geofencing is, another factor to consider is the following. How can it revolutionize the freight industry? Polygon geofencing takes the benefits of geofencing and couples them with the autonomy and self-direction companies have come to expect in today’s global logistics industry.

Circular geofences in location services were a limited, one-size-fits-all solution to the problems faced by freight brokers. But the trouble is that one-size-fits-all doesn’t work when putting tires on a truck, so why should it work in global logistics?

With polygon geofencing, companies can design and set the boundaries of their geofences to fit the real-world shipping landscape.

Polygon geofences can account for closed roadways when providing directions, bend around an empty field behind a warehouse or adjust for a warehouse property expansion. The customization potential of polygon geofences is as varied and dynamic as the shipping terrain itself. What is geofencing? Geofencing is the fuel for real-time, real-world analytics.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Geofencing Software?

Today’s shippers must manage operations and the data used to support them. Determining the needs and capabilities of each geofence varies by use case, and it’s essential to know the pros and cons for the individual application. Such pros include:

  • Real-Time Updates for the Dynamic World. Access to dynamic location data and seeing that data concerning the continuous movements of each load as it crosses boundaries.
  • Storage for Today and Tomorrow. By partnering with a geofencing data lake provider, such as Kestrel Insights, companies can ensure that analytics are secure and readily available for use in software at scale. With this assurance, companies can continue daily operations knowing that the full, detailed extent of their tracking history is available if necessary.

Now, onto the cons of geofencing software:

  • Data Transparency. Specific geofencing platforms make accessing historical data difficult, preventing companies from taking full advantage of their geofences and the analytics they provide. Partnering with a data lake-equipped geofence provider, such as Kestrel Insights, enables companies to access the vast breadth of data their geofences provide.
  • Low Visibility. While it allows for the primary benefits of geofencing, circular geofencing struggles to provide companies with the demystifying data they seek. All companies see is the ping of an asset entering the geofence and another ping as it exits the geofence. Luckily, polygon geofencing can provide more detailed, hyper-relevant information to companies. Polygon geofencing turns that blip into a powerful data point, representing the exact moment an asset entered or exited a specific field customized by a geofencing company to a logistics company’s precise specifications.

Why Outsourced Geofencing Is the Gold Standard for Today’s Busy Providers

In today’s global logistics ecosystem, no logistics company should worry about hiring a team of programmers or app developers. By turning to an experienced, reliable geofencing software company such as Kestrel Insights, logistics companies can rest easy knowing that their geofences are being maintained by a team of professionals dedicated solely to providing real-time, precision analytics. There’s enough to worry about in the logistics industry; let a company like Kestrel Insights worry about this. Lastly, when asking what geofencing is, it is a means of assurance that a company’s assets are safe at all times, no matter where they are.

Reap the Rewards of Integrated Geofencing in Your Tech With Kestrel Insights

By utilizing the polygon geofencing services Kestrel Insights provides, logistics companies can bring their understanding of their logistical processes into the technological age. As a result, companies can now connect to a faster, more manageable stream of geofencing solutions without hiring a team of developers or programmers or taking a crash course in computer science. In turn, that will give rise to use and access to vendor-provided, detailed analytics that would have previously been unattainable.

With Kestrel Insights and their application of polygon geofencing, logistics companies can navigate the endlessly complex world of global logistics with greater ease and understanding than ever before. Rather than throwing in the towel when asking, what geofencing is, the best solution is to work with the experts. Connect with Kestrel Insights to get started today.