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FedEx introducing precision-tracking sensors on packages

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought seismic changes to the logistics industry as the need for improved operational efficiency has reinforced the importance of supply chain visibility. FedEx has responded by introducing SenseAware ID, a lightweight sensor that will help the company significantly improve its precision in parcel tracking. 

“Package tracking and visibility are more important now than ever, as businesses have become increasingly reliant on timely deliveries,” said Robert B. Carter, executive vice president and chief information officer at FedEx. “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.”

FedEx expects the sensor’s enhanced location visibility to foster new opportunities for its customers, providing real-time updates on a package’s location, especially in the context of expedited shipping operations. As companies can locate their freight with high precision, it is easier for them to monitor freight safety and deliver promptly — crucial when delivering sensitive shipments like medical supplies.

SenseAware ID uses a lightweight, low-power sensor that transmits real-time and precise package location every two seconds. This is via Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) technology that uses Wi-Fi access points or established gateway devices within the FedEx network to push data back to the dispatchers. 

Seamless deliveries depend on uninterrupted communication between the dispatchers and the logistics workers involved in moving the package. Conventional sensors are dependent on cellular connectivity to transmit data, making them unreliable for real-time updates when the truck hauls through interstate highways with poor network connectivity. 

BLE sensors enable low-data wireless communication, making real-time transfer of a minuscule amount of data possible, even in regions with a questionable cellular network. FedEx, being an industry frontrunner, sees sense in providing BLE-based logistics technology to its customers.

“As part of the initial rollout, 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 health care, aerospace and retail industries will receive access to the enhanced data in November. FedEx expects to expand access to this precision location data to additional customers throughout the first half of 2021,” the company said in its statement. 

Visibility is crucial in the “new normal” as logistics stakeholders scramble to deliver medical supplies and essentials across the country. FedEx said SenseAware ID would give its health care customers an edge in the market, allowing them to closely monitor and proactively protect shipments. “SenseAware ID is expected to play a critical role in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines using the FedEx First Overnight service, helping ensure these sensitive shipments are delivered quickly and safely,” it said.


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The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes FedEx (No. 1).