In today’s supply chain, every item requires tracking regardless of size, value, or function. It is important to identify every product of the supply chain, whether it be microchips for medical devices or ingredients for a food product, to understand how the product can be safely and legally transported to the recipient. Shipment tracking data also applies to audit consisting of records of time, location, date, and person, since companies need an audit trail. This is where IT plays a major role in maintaining and storing those records.
However, not everyone thinks about shipment tracking and proof of delivery. It is just as important as the machine that makes the product and the source of the ingredients. The following outlines how shipment tracking data can protect your business.
90 days may be all you get!
Did you know that most parcel shipping companies like FedEx, UPS, DHL, and USPS don’t keep your tracking and proof of delivery data for very long? In many instances, major parcel carriers keep shipment tracking data for up to 90 days and proof of delivery signatures for up to 18 months. If you wish to store this information longer, it's wise to look into backing up the data in your own ERP system.
Shipment Tracking Data Identifies Room for Improvement
Shipment tracking data is involved in every step when the item changes hands – everything is recorded from creating a label, delivery to the shipper, transfer to a plane or truck, and distribution at the local facility. However, issues might occur along the way. For instance, temperature or elevation changes in the plane, truck, or ship can affect the product quality. While these are minor and rare instances in reliable containers, it could affect the chemicals and packaging within your product.
According to Mary Sherman from a chemical company, she recounts how tracking can save your company from being liable. “We had a lot of trouble with shipping companies denting and damaging barrels. When we release our product, we are constantly tracking it because of damage during transit. If any particles get into our product, it’s no longer acceptable to the end user.”
More importantly, having all the shipment tracking data implies greater data integrity to ensure that you and your company are protected.
Proof of Delivery is the Best Way to Prevent Fraud
Another feature of shipment tracking data is proof of delivery. Proof of delivery includes a recipient-provided signature to prove to all parties that the shipment arrived at a specific location, date, and time.
Did you know that medical device manufacturers are required by the FDA to track the entire supply chain? At a minimum, research records are required to be available for three years, but in 30 years in some medical instances. Recently at a conference, one company suggested that they are required to keep an audit trail of up to seven years for electronic sensors. Not only is it beneficial for auditing to have proof of delivery, but it can prove to all parties that the right person received the shipment, therefore protecting your company from fraud accusations.
According to Doug Cole, Vice President of Operations at ERP Integrated Solutions, “It’s very low cost to download and store tracking data. Most of that data is held in a table and makes up just a kilobyte at most. With ShipERP, we are able to store even the PDF as a string with very low data cost for millions of shipments.”
How Long Do You Need to Keep Shipment Tracking Data?
Even with the tiny data storage cost, few shipping solutions offer long term data storage. So, how long do you need to keep shipment tracking data? It’s up to the individual company to make it a priority based on the industry, the global and local laws involved, customer demands, and business needs.
At ShipERP, we help to seamlessly retrieve tracking data from shipping carriers and store it locally, which addresses historical data maintenance and data compliance. If you have any questions about maintaining your shipment tracking data, reach out to ShipERP to discuss your options.
This article was written by Daniel Robert Sherman.