Tracking Moving Targets

Tracking Moving Targets

If it moves, you can track it. Cyber physical systems enable companies to track inventory, assets, and equipment that are on the move. From fleet vehicles, to animals in a field, or even delivery of packages, cyber physical systems can capture data from physical objects and analyze their movements. 

As digital transformation spreads throughout all industries, companies are always looking for new ways to capture and analyze data. Tracking moving components is a compelling source of data collection that is applicable to many different types of operations, with a promising output of value. 

Collecting the data is quite simple. Technologies like IoT devices are attached to the physical object that needs tracking. By doing so, it turns the object into a cyber physical system that can now produce significant amounts of data. Insights like location, route, speed, touchpoints, and more can be uncovered, all depending on the use case and sophistication of the technology in question. 

Many major companies are already tapping into the potential of movement data and are realizing the growth it can provide to an organization. 

A few years back, UPS needed a way to optimize the delivery routes of its fleet. To do this, they deployed a series of smart sensors to collect vehicle data, such as fuel consumption, driver behaviour, and route choice. With over 190,000 drivers and millions of packages delivered per day, the company collects an incredible amount of data. The seemingly endless data stream is fed into a software system where it continually works to optimize delivery routes, always improving itself over the historical data. This initiative has produced significant savings on fuel and productivity. 

FedEx took a slightly different route than UPS. The company announced a new smart sensor for healthcare clients to track the location of their packages in real time. Customers simply attach the sensor to a package, which turns it into a cyber physical system that provides real time updates on package location — a whole new world of opportunity in the supply chain. When it comes to time sensitive deliveries, like pharmaceuticals and vaccines, the ability to track the package movement in real time is an invaluable resource. The sensors have been instrumental in the recent distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. 

A4 Systems recently announced a partnership to develop a cyber physical system for movement data in the agriculture sector. Partnering with the BC Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, the Province of British Columbia, Telus, and Two Story Robot, a system is being designed to collect data on cattle movements as they graze. The real time data allows for the use of a virtual fence, which prevents cattle from leaving a predetermined zone — a significantly more cost effective way to locate and manage free roaming cattle. 

Cyber physical systems are amazing tools for data collection. Tracking moving objects is just one of the few ways they are improving operations everywhere.