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Google Maps helps Vilant’s customers track movements of shipment locations


Editor’s word: Nowadays’s visitor blogger is Antti Okayänsälä, director of products for Vilant Systems, a Finland-based provider of RFID (radio-frequency identification) information systems for manufacturing and logistics. This post is part of our series on the Transport and Logistics Industry and the ways they’re relying on Google Maps for Business to get people, products and assets to their destinations faster.

When my Vilant colleagues and I attended a trade show in Stockholm recently, we had to carry a bunch of posters, brochures, and giveaways on the plane, because an earlier shipment of duplicate material got lost in transit. To avoid this scenario in the future, we decided that from now on, we’d place a Vilant Tracker on all event packages, so that we could see their progress on a Google Map.

At Vilant, we’ve made it similarly easy for businesses to track the progress of shipments to their destinations using Google Maps and the Google Geolocation API, and for shipping companies to share this information with their own customers. Vilant technology makes shipping more efficient: Vilant’s Tracker devices use GSM (global system for mobile communications) technology, which means they are less expensive to operate and last longer than GPS devices. We also recently developed a unique Air Tracker for one of our customers, and it will be generally available in the future to help track progress of shipments by air.

To add even more efficiency to our Tracker systems, we looked at mapping solutions from several vendors, and we found that the Google Maps and Geolocation APIs were the easiest to customize for displaying the information we receive from our tracking devices. We considered some open-source products, but Google Maps’ image quality was much higher and the resulting maps were more reliable and faster to get online.

Vilant has developed a web-based tracker portal, built with Google Maps, where our customers can go to check on shipping status and create and share customized maps through unique URLs. Some customers also have large track-and-trace platforms, and we can easily integrate them with our trackers using the APIs.

The ability to generate and share maps helps businesses stay on top of shipments without time-consuming dialogue with shippers and warehouses. One of our customers, Tieturi, which provides business training and coaching, ships dozens of computers to training locations and needs to know that the computers will arrive before classes begin. The Google Maps API enables this by showing shipment locations practically in real time.

Another Vilant Tracker user, ABB, ships motors and generators and needs to tell customers when they will arrive. Instead of taking calls from customers and then calling trucking companies, ABB can simply email its customers a link to a Google Map showing the shipment’s location. It reduces administrative work, and sets ABB apart from the competition.

Like our customers, we see Google Maps as a big competitive advantage. The ability to visualize shipment locations and see delivery progress at a glance is sure to bring us new customers and help us win a larger share of the logistics market.