FedEx senses need for real-time parcel tracking

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FedEx senses need for real-time parcel tracking

By Dan Berthiaume - 09/14/2020
fed ex delivery

FedEx is offering a new location awareness tool for packages in its supply chain, with an eye toward eventual COVID-19 vaccine shipments.

The delivery service giant is rolling out SenseAware ID, a lightweight, sensor-based logistics device designed to provide precision tracking. The enhanced location visibility provided by this technology enables real-time updates on a package’s location within the FedEx Express network. 

FedEx is attempting to offer a faster, digitally-enabled global shipping experience as part of a broader effort to respond to increasing delivery pressure from Amazon. Other solutions it has offered as part of this effort during 2020 include FedEx Surround, a collaboration with Microsoft that leverages data to provide near-real-time analytics into shipment tracking, as well as a partnership with online freight marketplace Freightos.com to digitalize internal sales and digital customs brokerage processes. In January 2020, FedEx began offering ground delivery seven days per week for the majority of the U.S. population. 

FedEx intends for SenseAware ID to improve the safety, security and timeliness of U.S. deliveries. The company sees the solution having particular applicability for packages that contain critical contents such as anticipated COVID-19 vaccine shipments, as well as other life-saving pharmaceuticals and emergency medical supplies.

“Package tracking and visibility are more important now than ever, as businesses have become increasingly reliant on timely deliveries,” said Robert B. Carter, executive VP and CIO, FedEx Corp. “Created by our innovation teams at FedEx, SenseAware ID was designed to give our customers the precise level of tracking they’ve been looking for, enabling them to optimize their supply chains and make any necessary adjustments during the journey of their shipments.”

SenseAware ID uses a lightweight, compact sensor that transmits precise package location data every two seconds via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to WiFi access points or established gateway devices throughout the FedEx Express network. Packages equipped with the SenseAware ID sensor are tracked hundreds of times, compared to dozens of times with traditional package scanning protocols.

As part of the initial roll-out, SenseAware ID sensors are being applied to First Overnight shipments within the U.S. domestic FedEx Express network. An initial round of customers in the healthcare, aerospace and retail industries will receive access to the enhanced data in November 2020. FedEx expects to expand access to this precision location data to additional customers throughout the first half of 2021. SenseAware ID will eventually be made available for a broad range of premium FedEx Express services.