How What3Words Can Help Freight Logistics

What if you could pinpoint an exact location to within a 3 x 3 metre square, anywhere in the world?

This is exactly what What3Words allows you to do.

You might have heard about it in relation to emergency services being able to pinpoint the exact location of an injured person. Or about how the idea came to be because some innovative event organisers needed to find a way to get musicians and their equipment to the right location at a large music festival.

But how can What3Words help freight management and logistics?

In this article, we’ll look at What3Words is, how it can be used in freight management, and when we might see it being used in supply chain logistics in Australia.

What is What3Words?

What3words is a really smart way to describe a specific location.

After having trouble getting musicians and their equipment to the exact right place at a music festival, the event organiser creators set about finding a simple solution to their irritating, location based problem.

They mapped the entire earth, and allocated three words to every 3 x 3 square metre block.

These three words are like a GPS coordinate. And while GPS is great technology, it’s not very user friendly.

The beauty of What3Words is in its simplicity - three words are much easier to remember.

How to Use What3Words

In practical terms, using What3Words is as simple as downloading the What3Words app. To find a location, you enter the three-word address in the search bar. To share your location you can find your three-word global address by clicking a simple location icon in the app.

For freight management, it requires both the sender and receiver to use the app to share the three-word delivery location.

And at Freight People, we have an extended label that allows customers to add the What3Words information to a consignment label. The courier can then type in the three words, or scan the barcode with their phone, which will instantly pop up the What3Words location.

Who Uses What3Words

Because it’s specific use is to find a location, there are a whole range of different uses for What3Words.

From helping emergency crews reach trapped earthquake survivors, to making it easy to meet your friends in a crowded place, What3Words makes location finding easier.

In the freight management and logistics industry, we see two massive opportunities for its application.

What3Words for the Medical Industry

Medical freight is critical freight. If it gets lost or arrives late, this can have devastating consequences.

If a consignment ends up in the wrong department or goes missing for days because it’s been delivered to the loading dock and nobody knows it’s there can mean the difference between life and death.

Having an exact location to deliver to within a huge hospital saves a huge amount of time, money and potentially lives, by improving the accuracy of delivery.

What3Words for Locations with a Huge Footprint

Locations like university campuses and rural properties are also notoriously difficult to deliver to because of their size.

What3Words allows you to pinpoint ad exact location within these large addresses making it easier to deliver a parcel to the right place every time.

3 Ways What3Words Can Help Freight Logistics

Reducing mis-delivery errors

Whether a delivery address is large or small, What3Words reduces the risk of a consignment being delivered to the wrong location because the receiver can state very clearly the 3 x 3 metre square they want their parcel left in.

If you want your parcel left at reception, you give those three words. If you want it left in your carport, or down the side of your house instead of at your front door, you give those three words. And if a customer can’t find their parcel, there’s a simple, three word solution to helping them find it.

Improving Last Mile Delivery

What3Words is exceptionally useful for improving last mile delivery.

An essential part of the business to consumer market, being able to deliver efficiently and accurately to the right location in a large building, hospital or university campus will enhance the customer experience.

Expensive Consignments

Have you ever sent an expensive gift to have it go missing? The courier insists they left it at your house, but you can’t find it anywhere. Two weeks later, it turns up under a bush? Or behind your rubbish bin?

It shouldn’t happen with any consignment. But it’s particularly stressful when it’s something expensive. And What3Words is a great solution.

Use of What3Words in Australia

While adoption of the What3Words technology has been prevalent overseas and in emergency services applications, we haven’t seen it much yet in Australia.

At Freight People, our main application has been with critical medical consignments. Because we’re in contact with the courier and the customer to support these types of medical deliveries, we’ve been able to explain and use What3Words to improve the delivery experience.

Education is the main barrier to entry for courier companies. They need to know about it, and have the system in place to deliver it.

What3Words will also work more effectively if everyone is doing it – so while a few freight providers in Australia are implementing it into their service offering, it’s yet to find its way into the freight management industry as a standard.

Key Takeaways

What3Words has many applications in freight and logistics management that will improve the customer experience.

From improved last mile delivery and accurate delivery of critical medical freight, to reducing the risk of mis-delivery and making is easier, and faster for couriers to find the delivery location for parcels, even in locations with a large footprint, What3Words is part of the future of freight management.