The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Forwarder Independent Tracking Systems – Problem Description and Solution Design Proposal

Mikko Kärkkäinen

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management for public examination and debate in Auditorium TU2 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 12th of August, 2005, at 12 o'clock noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 951-22-7765-4)   [655 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 951-22-7764-6)


This thesis provides a concise review of previous literature discussing tracking and expands on it based on empirical observations and proposed solution design. The aim of the thesis is to describe why tracking has become an increasingly important area in logistics management, identify the key problems with current designs of tracking systems, and develop and test a solution proposal that addresses the identified problems.

Current tracking systems are difficult to set up in short-term multi-company networks. This is a problem for example in project-oriented industries and when utilising spot markets for logistics services.

The proposed Forwarder Independent Tracking (FIT) solution concept was developed and tested in four case studies, two of which included a pilot implementation. The main data collection methods of the case studies have been active involvement in the planning and the carrying out of the pilot implementations, acting as a helpdesk in the pilots, observation, constant contact with key personnel of the case companies, and semi structured interviews.

The studies show that FIT can be used to produce and disseminate reliable tracking and inventory transparency data in short-term multi-company distribution networks. Tracking systems built according to the FIT solution concept offer a possibility to gather tracking information from logistics service providers without a priori integration. The FIT solution concept also provides logistics companies currently without tracking systems (e.g. small, local companies) a possibility to offer tracking information to their customers. The thesis concludes that owing to these properties, the proposed FIT solution concept can have a high significance also in stable distribution networks.

The thesis also examines when Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology offers the most benefits in tracking, and concludes that the benefits are linked to the efficiency and security of physical identification, and that RFID is not needed for implementing the FIT concept.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 6 publications:

  1. Kärkkäinen, M., and Holmström, J., 2002. Wireless product identification: enabler for handling efficiency, customisation and information sharing. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 242-252. © 2002 Emerald. By permission.
  2. Kärkkäinen, M., Holmström, J., Främling, K., and Artto, K., 2003. Intelligent products – a step towards a more effective project delivery chain. Computers in Industry, Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 141-151. © 2003 Elsevier Science. By permission.
  3. Kärkkäinen, M., 2003. Increasing efficiency in the supply chain for short shelf life goods using RFID tagging. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 31, No. 10, pp. 529-536. © 2003 Emerald. By permission.
  4. Kärkkäinen, M., Ala-Risku, T., and Främling, K., 2004. Efficient tracking for short-term multi-company networks. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 34, No. 7, pp. 545-564. © 2004 Emerald. By permission.
  5. Ala-Risku, T., and Kärkkäinen, M., 2005. Material delivery problems in construction projects: a possible solution. International Journal of Production Economics, in press. © 2005 Elsevier Science. By permission.
  6. Kärkkäinen, M., and Ala-Risku, T., 2005. Tracking based material flow transparency for small and medium sized enterprises. Working paper, unpublished. © 2005 by authors.

Keywords: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), project delivery, logistics, multi-company network

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© 2005 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26