Digitalization of roll containers using IoT sensors – a solution for logistics problems in the e-commerce era

Kateryna Sakovska

​​​​​​​With the growth of e-commerce and changes in consumer behavior, efficient delivery of packages is more difficult than ever. As a result of the inefficiency of logistics processes, many carriers are having problems covering the ever-increasing number of shipments. An insufficient overview of the use and location of roll containers causes unnecessary complications and inefficiencies preventing their optimal use. The intensity of transport and costs due to the unused capacity of the transport space are increasing; these lead to negative environmental impacts and delayed deadlines for the delivery of shipments. Dissatisfied customers then loudly demand their undelivered shipments!

All these problems can be solved by tracking roll containers using Bluetooth. A good example is the Dutch postal service, which recently announced the digitization of 250,000 shipping roll cages using sensors from The postal service delivers around 1.1 million parcels and 8.1 million letters across the Benelux every day! In 2020, it delivered a record 337 million shipments during the coronavirus pandemic, which was almost 20% more than in 2019.

The technology chosen by the Dutch postal service to digitize its logistics process and track rolling cages containing parcels has brought many benefits – and these can also be used in a number of other industries.​

Overview of the use of roll containers

Tracking using IoT sensors allows the Dutch postal service to gain better insight into how the roll containers are being used. The sensors provide information about who is currently using the containers, how often they use them, and how many are currently available. Thanks to accurate monitoring, the postal service can identify unused or empty trolleys and thus minimize costs in the entire supply chain.​


Detailed monitoring using Bluetooth sensors allows the postal service to position the trolleys so that they are used as efficiently as possible. It turned out that while in some shipping depots the trolleys are partially unused, in others they have been able to significantly increase the efficiency of transportation by adding more trolleys.​

Identifying bottlenecks and problems in the logistics chain

If there is a shortage of trolleys in one place, or if parcels are piling up somewhere, the postal service might not be able to process parcels. Thanks to Bluetooth sensors tracking the position of roll containers, the Dutch postal service can anticipate problems and move staff or equipment in time to resolve the situation. This simple step solves problems even before they occur.​

Localization of lost shipments

The loss of a shipment or an entire roll container is a serious problem for any shipping service. Thanks to the sensors, the postal service can easily and quickly locate the trolleys without ever losing track of any of them. The sensors provide information about which roll container with a so-called roll cage the shipment was loaded on, and in which car or transshipment point the container is located. If the postal service needs to move a shipment to a correct location, it is easy to find out where exactly it is located.​

Real-time information about roll container capacity

Thanks to the digitization of logistics using tracking sensors, the Dutch postal service has an overview of the current capacity of individual roll containers – whether the cage is fully loaded or whether there is free space in it. A detailed overview of the container location, its contents and movements including any delays, makes it possible to increase the efficiency of processes and improve customer service.​

Cost reductions

Tracking the roll cages and their contents allows the identification of parts of the logistics chain where costs can be reduced. For example, sending fully loaded cages instead of half-empty ones, or making sure these units take the most direct route to their destination. ​

Reducing the environmental footprint

The quick identification of places where the containers can be best used not only brings greater cost efficiency, but also reduces the negative impact on the environment thanks to a smaller amount of unused space during transport.​

The technology for tracking roll containers using IoT sensors selected by the Dutch postal service can be a key solution for handling the ever-increasing volume of transported shipments. This technology makes it possible to get a better overview of the use of roll containers and minimize the cost of replacing equipment. Thanks to their monitoring, the containers can be placed so that they are used as efficiently as possible and bottlenecks in the logistics chain can be predicted. The technology helps solve problems before they arise and minimizes negative impacts on the environment. Companies and organizations in other industries can also take advantage of this technology to optimize their logistics processes and minimize costs.​​​