Collaborative Tracking and Tracing – A Supply Chain Perspective

University dissertation from Chalmers University of Technology

Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to explore tracking and tracing (T&T) systems to develop the concept of “collaborative tracking and tracing” for the management of logistics operations. The thesis is based on extensive literature reviews, and four major empirical studies, including one structured interview study, one documentation review study, case studies of two Swedish fresh-fish supply chains (SCs) and a case study of the Volvo cars body components (VCBC) SC. Design science is applied as a research approach to provide propositions for designing new types of collaborative T&T systems, thus fulfilling the requirements of real-world logistics settings. The findings indicate the major types of information that are valuable for actors of SCs. One of the main functions supported by the SC information types is in enabling the T&T of transported entities. The T&T of goods and transport resources is one of the main transportation functions supported by freight intelligent transportation systems (ITSs). Results indicate that implementation of the standardised information service frameworks (SISFs) and auto-identification technology to enable collaborative food T&T potentially affects different logistics activities conducted by actors of the food SCs. In addition, it affects the costs of their operations and their revenue. Sharing data via a rail-wagon collaborative T&T system provides opportunities for different actors of an automotive rail logistics SC including traffic authorities, transport operators and transport customers. Some of the improvements resulting from the application of the railway collaborative T&T system are better monitoring and control of infrastructure usage, improving the efficiency of maintenance procedures, improving logistics administration processes and enabling the T&T at all levels of transported entities. The thesis explores the mismatches between the interests and interpretations of different SC actors from the application of a collaborative T&T system and, furthermore, it identifies the most suitable patterns for designing collaborative T&T systems. Findings indicate that a collaborative T&T system based on loose couplings is an appropriate solution for inter-organisational T&T for the logistics networks that actors will join or leave in run-time. This research contributes to the body of knowledge in the areas of logistics information systems, freight ITSs, logistics T&T, SC collaboration and SC information sharing, with more focus on sharing information related to logistics and transportation of food products and also rail-wagon freight transport. Providing useful knowledge for the practitioners through exploring the opportunities and challenges of implementing collaborative T&T systems is the main practical contribution of the thesis. Deep exploration of the T&T in an inter-organisational context considering its challenges and opportunities for different SC actors and issues related to its implementation is an original outcome of this thesis. Keywords: logistics, supply chain, actors, collaborative, tracking and tracing (T&T), entities, food, rail, wagon, design.

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