African Beauty Queens & Your Samsoong Phone: Mobile Devices in Logistics

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November 15, 2013

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My cousin brother sometimes anecdote about one of his friends or so to speak, he alleges his friend requests two glasses whenever he goes to a restaurant, apparently one of the glass must come with some tissue papers inside since it will be housing the smart phone to circumvent any damage or scratch for the miniature time they’ll be at that restaurant. I can’t convey you in the smart way my cousin does and how he paints the picture. That’s part of our Africanism.

Africa has been known for a lot of positive things, such as boasting world-class athletes or some of the most stunning women walking the planet, to rival even Venezuela, from whence the reigning Miss Universe hails. A quick Google search will show you that Africa’s global reputation continues to improve, fuelled by embracing new technologies, among them the gadget you will probably have checked at least once by the end of this sentence: mobile phones.

A recent report by operators’ organization the GSM Association put the number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub Saharan Africa at 253 million in June 2013, expected to steadily progress to 346 million in four years’ time. The implications of this on the logistics industry are varied: firstly, with increased mobile device presence in the region, more clients of supply chain management firms will have access to telephones, making it easier for us to keep in touch with our customers. This helps streamline the process of freighting, allowing us to plan pickups, deliveries and provide transit updates on cargo to our clients as needed.

Mobile devices also benefit internal communication efforts: mobile communications units facilitate synchronization of units or drivers in the field with the dispatch station at headquarters. Having an open line of communication means that drivers can be informed of drastic weather events or traffic incidents that may impede freighting efforts. Drivers can also liaise with dispatch to communicate with intended delivery locations to let them know of their location and expected time of arrival.

Mobile devices are not just limited to communications, mobile GPS devices can also be counted in the number. From a corporate perspective, these can be installed in fleets to track vehicle movements and ensure that they are not being used for personal errands, costing the company additional fuel or repair charges. GPS tracking of cargo and fleets is also useful in tracking goods to provide feedback to customers or offer a realistic expected time of delivery.

Mobile GPS trackers can also work to the advantage of fleet drivers, allowing dispatch to identify the region they are in, in case a route change is needed or the driver simply gets lost in an unfamiliar region. This feature is also of help in the case of carjackings or other such commandeering, allowing the supply chain management firm to offer police concrete locations of stolen trucks or shipments, so culprits can be brought to justice.

Mobile devices are especially useful where it all begins: logistics warehouses. With devices and applications currently in the market, companies can track inventory levels, assign and locate bar coded items, communicate stock requests internally or with partners, and much more. Cutting down on time needed to manually carry out these activities makes logistics firms more efficient, saving time and funds that could be used to better the company in other ways.

As Africa welcomes technological advancements in the coming years, we can only hope that you as an individual make the effort to support the cause on a personal level. If you’re reading from your shiny new smart-phone or trusty tablet, we applaud your dedication. Photo Credit: Dhakar MirrorShould you be in possession of a Nokla, Sany or Samsoong model of suspect origins, however, it is not for us to judge. Do have a genuine week, won’t you?


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