GPS - What is it and how is it used in the supply chain?

Location positioning & direction tracking across the globe

Image of a GPS satellite used for fleet management and tracking

How is GPS used on a daily basis?

Nowadays most form of electronic devices use GPS technology. These can include household items such as mobile phones, smartwatches, and even cars. This technology has immersed itself in everyday life for the user, as it allows a person who is out for a walk to be able to see where they are going, how far they have to travel to their destination, and what is in their immediate surroundings. The same can also be said for GPS technology within cars, allowing them to set a destination and a route to follow, while giving them helpful data such as estimated time of arrival, total distance and current speed. This technology can be very useful in the current globalised world where location and direction of travel are a necessity for journeys.

Understanding how it works

This location system is the Global Positioning System (GPS). It is a navigation system that functions through the use of satellites and works in any part of the world, readily available at any time and in any situation. Primarily developed for military use, it has been in civilian markets since the 1980’s.

The satellites that allow the system to operate effectively orbit the Earth twice daily at 12 000 miles above land and travelling at speeds of approximately 7,000mph. The satellites send signals and location data back down to the terrain or water that it is over at that point in time. It works simply by triangulating the location of the GPS device against at least 3 of the satellites. This allows for the user of the GPS to receive this data and locate where they are, or where their assets are, whenever they need to. A weaker signal can sometimes be experienced when it has to penetrate solid or thick surfaces, but it is able to penetrate glass.
This can be extremely useful in areas of the Earth that are not very accessible and have little or no signal from other sources. These satellites are extremely reliable as they are solar powered, and have backup batteries onboard in case of a solar eclipse. Once the position has been located by GPS, the system can also determine factors such as speed, direction, distance travelled and the distance to the desired destination.

Its value

It is estimated that, since its introduction to civilian use in the 1980’s, it has had over $1.4 trillion in economic benefits to the US private sector alone, while a GPS outage would result in a loss to the economy of $1bn per day. The value of having the accurate location of what you need resides in enabling the user to dispose of their assets when they need them. Most of us have had for example situation where we cannot find our keys or other valuable object. GPS technology facilitates making the most out of our available time by minimizing the risk of losing our belongings, with the side benefit of preventing some stress and headache.

How Shellock incorporates it

With Shellock’s eShell incorporating GPS technology into its equipment, it is able to provide visibility and transparency to an asset’s journey at any location on the planet, at any time. This system allows for location positioning, direction of travel and distance travelled between origin and destination to be shared with the team and the customers when they need it. In the current shipping industry, with its various difficulties surrounding estimated time of delivery, failure of entry into ports, and lack of visibility of goods during the shipping process, being able to locate assets anywhere on the planet and make informed and proactive decisions based on this data can save a lot of time, money and stress.


We provide this information via our web platform with just a couple clicks. This data can be used for many different cases, ranging from keeping the receiver updated on the forecasted time of arrival, to extracting metrics to measure the performance of a transport. For this reason we have enabled an API interconnection so you can connect your systems and use all of these measurements to improve and fully automate your processes.

GPS fleet management tracking from Bilbao to Valencia
Use of GPS technology to track shipments in the hinterland