Features to Look for in a Cargo Monitoring Solution

5 minute read

To make the most of cargo monitoring, fleet managers should look for a robust solution.

An effective cargo monitoring solution can help fleets recover stolen cargo, protect cold-chain integrity, and save money on fuel. That said, there are a lot of cargo monitoring solutions on the market — and not all of them are created equal. A device that dies after a week on the road is not the same as a device that lasts for years. A device that only collects location data every fifteen minutes is not the same as a device that is configurable to collect that data in real time, once an hour, daily, or any other time period of choice.

Which features are nice to have, but not strictly necessary? Which features are the bare minimum for any fleet? Here’s what to look for when choosing a cargo monitoring solution.

Key Features

At its core, a cargo monitoring solution should include:

  • Durable, data-connected devices for installation in the cargo container
  • An easily-accessible and full-featured user interface where fleet managers can access device data
  • The ability to add features relevant to the fleet’s needs, such as temperature monitoring capabilities

As implied in the last bullet point, to some extent the specifications of an effective cargo monitoring solution depend on the fleet. For a fleet that regularly ships cold-chain pharmaceuticals, temperature tracking is a must; for a fleet that ships nothing but building materials, it’s less important. But there are some features no fleet can compromise on.

The Essentials

Battery Life

Your average smartphone battery lasts a day or two per charge. But on the road, in the air, or at sea, cargo monitoring device batteries need to last a lot longer than that.

The good news is battery technology has come a long way. When choosing a cargo monitoring device, look for one that lasts years.


Wind, rain, dust, bugs, heat, bumps, and drops — a shipping container can go through a lot from Point A to Point B. Any device that’s going along for the ride needs to be durable.

“Durable,” “ruggedized,” and “military grade” are all keywords that indicate a device is made to last. But how can fleet managers verify that it’s not just talk? Look for specifics.

  • What is the temperature range in which it can properly operate?
  • Has the device passed industry standard durability tests?
    • SAEJ1455 water spray test
    • EN-60950-1:2006 impact test
    • IP67 water and dust test
  • Are there any delicate external wires that could cause problems down the line?

If after asking these questions the device still passes muster, fleet managers can be confident that it will last.

Data Connectivity

The power of a cargo monitoring device lies in its ability to collect data. But will it dependably transmit that data to the fleet manager?

Instant data reporting requires a strong data connection. While budget options on the 3G network are available, the 3G network will be sunsetting soon – so look for 4G LTE for best results.

Data Reporting Frequency

How often does the device send data? Every day? Every hour? Every five minutes? Real time? Reporting frequency matters for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is theft. If a trailer leaves its intended route but fleet managers don’t find out until three hours later, there’s plenty of time for thieves to make their getaway – which would obviously be a problem.

Platform Integration

Collecting data is one thing; interpreting it is quite another.

A cargo solution’s effectiveness is not just about its hardware, but also its software. Is it user friendly? Intuitive? Does it automatically generate reports? Do fleet managers have to pay an extra subscription fee to access it? The answers to these questions can make the difference between leveraging business intelligence and squandering it.

The Options

Temperature, Humidity, and Pressure Alerts

If a fleet is transporting perishable products, it’s not only smart to track their temperature — it’s a part of regulatory compliance. Managers should make sure the solution they’re considering includes environmental monitoring to protect their fleet’s cargo. If the solution can monitor not just temperature, but also other environmental factors as well, so much the better.

Tampering Alerts

Location tracking goes a long way to preventing and recovering thefts, but many incidents occur without the trailer ever leaving its intended route. For fleets at a higher risk of cargo tampering, an alert system could be a worthwhile investment and help with loss prevention, security audits, and more.

Cargo Capacity Sensors

A shocking 40% of the time, trailers go out on the road partially or completely empty. In the US, that adds up to billions in unnecessary spending on fuel and driver costs each year. Cargo capacity sensors can reveal these inefficiencies to fleet managers, saving them money.

Choosing the Right Solution for Your Fleet

Choosing the right cargo monitoring solution can be overwhelming.

The big picture? Make sure that:

  • The hardware will stand up to the road
  • The devices will collect the data you need
  • You can access that data easily, in ways that drive value for your fleet.

Of course, if you trust the company you’re working with, you can rely on their guidance. 

Position Logic has worked with fleet managers for decades. Our cargo monitoring offerings range from the dependable essentials to cutting-edge, full-range solutions. Contact us today to learn how we can help protect your cargo.

Topic(s): Cargo Monitoring

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