The estimated time of arrival has still not quite reached the logistics industry. This is sad because it could make the daily work of many dispatchers easier – but only if the data is right.
Precise information is the gold of the logistics and transport industry. Because the more precisely digital processes map reality, the easier it will be to plan future orders. One feature that has caused quite a stir recently is the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA). If this time can be determined as precisely as possible, not only does the dispatcher benefit from it, but also subsequent processes can be better planned by the recipients. Ideally, the result would be that the driver would not have to wait at the ramp if everyone involved in the process could calculate precisely with the digital data.
So actually only the word “could” in the last sentence causes trouble. Because the ETA is also dependent on many variables. The biggest unknown is the situation on the roads, especially in long-distance traffic. A terrible accident and the most beautifully calculated ETA is gone. Some systems even take into account current traffic reports, but the situation on country roads or even district roads and city traffic are rarely taken into account when collecting data. There is often a lack of information here.
In order to find approximated values here, some systems are able to calculate an approximate time with their algorithms. The data is then mostly based on historical processes. Others try to use the data from their own devices to create the most realistic picture possible. If many vehicles move slowly, then a traffic jam can be assumed. But even here it is difficult to determine how long it is. Because not all vehicles have the same system installed.
An estimated time of arrival can therefore be better determined the closer a vehicle gets to its destination. So-called geofences are helpful. These are virtually drawn circles around a target area. These can be defined individually. As soon as a vehicle with its GPS tracker drives into the area, an alarm is triggered for the dispatcher. Then he knows that the vehicle will soon have reached its destination. “However, every transport and logistics company should be aware that assumptions are also made here on the basis of the data that do not necessarily have to be correct. There is a risk that the wrong process could then be initiated, “says Mike Ahlmann, sales expert at TIS GmbH in Bocholt and adds: “A lot looks simple on paper that must first prove to be correct in reality.”
With the ETA, it turns out that the very often missing data on the traffic situation or the current weather ensure that a good feature fails after all.