1 Introduction

The role of logistics, both in entrepreneurs and in other areas of life, is constantly growing. This creates many areas for development. The development of logistics can be identified primarily in manufacturing companies. In addition, the development of e-commerce also means new challenges for logistics, not only in terms of deliveries, but also transport and product returns. However, undoubtedly, the development of logistics is the development of transport. It is also an effect of economic growth and changes in the structure of the economy. This means that companies must adapt to new customer requirements and constantly growing competition [1]. It is possible thanks to the implementation of new solutions and innovations. There are many of them in transport and even more in logistics as a whole. New trends apply to all areas of logistics, and transport is one of the best examples. Many new solutions can be identified here, from IT systems enabling more efficient company management to autonomous vehicles that are to be our future. The article presents new directions of changes and innovations that are planned to be introduced in the area of transport. The aim of the article is to identify innovations and new possibilities in the field of telematic systems for identifying transport units in motion. As a result of the conducted research, a research gap was identified in the field of the possibility of using telematic systems in transport and forwarding. The actual research was based on a sample of 200 enterprises and carried out in the second half of 2020. The target group included representatives of companies from various industries, including transport and forwarding. The result of the research was the indication that there is no telematic system that would show the real-time location of the car data for all parties to the transport contract. Currently, only one side can track a vehicle, and usually it is the owner of the car, a shipping company or others via freight exchanges. The article proposes a concept of a central telematic system used to track vehicles and monitor their movement by all parties to the contract for the provision of logistics services, from the transport service provider to the customer and recipient of the service. Hence, in a pronounced solution, even several parties to the contract can track the vehicle at the same time, which undoubtedly translates into a better flow of information throughout the supply chain [2, 3].

2 The use of telematics systems in transport and forwarding—the concept and possibilities

Transport is an area of logistics. Assisted by forwarding, it is able to improve the quality of services offered by manufacturers or traders. The development of transport in recent years is undeniable. “Transport is a concept that describes activities related to the movement of the company's material resources in the supply chains. From a service perspective, it is an important complement to service delivery” [4]. A similar approach is presented by M. Hugos, who claims that "transport means the movement of all goods—starting with raw materials, ending with finished products—between individual links in the supply chain." [5] There are many classifications of transport in the literature on the subject, and the most popular is the division into ground (rail, road, pipeline), water (inland and sea), and air transport [6]. Transport is to support activities aimed at providing the customer with added value [7].

When analyzing one of the key processes in logistics, such as transport, one should also mention the logistics service, which is transport in the case of hiring external companies providing transport services. "Logistics service in a broad sense, in addition to transport and forwarding activities, includes terminal services, ranging from cross-docking, through storage, to completing (including picking and packing) and refining activities: labeling, re-packing, foiling, minor repairs, creating promotional sets (sometimes called co-packing) and others” [6]. Transport and forwarding is already a logistic service itself, while assisted with additional activities enriches the original transport service. The following can be distinguished among entities providing logistic services: companies providing transport services, companies providing warehouse / distribution services, companies providing shipping services, companies providing transport / management services, companies providing financial / information services [8]. The development of transport has a significant impact on the national economy, but also on the global ecological situation. The solution is new tools adapted to many areas of transport, including those that reduce the negative impact on the environment [9].

Transport can be a department of an enterprise, its functional area that supports its activities. We can then talk about internal and external transport. In another approach, it may be the core of the company's operations, i.e. transport and forwarding companies that only deal with this kind of activities. You can then talk about transport services that will be provided by transport and forwarding companies. "Transport services consist in moving loads in conditions appropriate to their sensitivity in natural transport, in technical and economic terms" [10]. Transport services can be considered from three perspectives: in the narrow sense of transport, in a broader sense as transport enriched with reloading, completing and consulting activities, which are carried out by forwarding [11]. Therefore, transport services may be diversified, and their dimensions may vary depending on the needs of the company ordering the transport service.

Information systems used in this area play an important role for the effective performance of transport services and organization of transport. At the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, a new term appeared in literature: Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) [12]. “ITS is a hybrid between information and communication technologies and the applications in the area of transport” [13]. ITS is a rich set of various technologies: telecommunications, information technology, automation and measurement [14]. It is a set of tools in which telecommunications and information technologies and telematics play the highest role. These systems allow to control the organization of transport, plan routes, visualize activities and systematically supervise the vehicles. Telematics tools exist thanks to the use of communication technology and information technology. They determine the operation of telematics systems. Additionally, supported by methods of controlling and managing transport systems and networks, they create telematics systems dedicated to transport. In a broader, sectoral approach, we can additionally talk about Intelligent Transport Systems [15].

Telematics is the tool that visualize the actual course of transportation units. In addition, it helps in locating the company's transport fleet, route planning, etc. There are many IT systems that can be classified as ITS, and their functionality and task areas are different: from route planning, transport management, through control of drivers' time and work, fuel consumption, to systems in which the transport itself is only one element. Transport management is also additional modules of APS systems supporting the optimization of roads and the sequence of deliveries and transports [16]. Telematics systems are not a new solution, but their functionality is developing in time. Changes in the organization of transport and forwarding, technological progress also affect telematics systems and innovations in this area. "Telematics is a part of telecommunications dealing with issues related to the transmission of messages in the form of a static image (alphanumeric text, graphic characters, photographs and other objects)" [17]. For the effective development of transport systems, the tools should be consistent with the principles of sustainable development [18, 19]. Sustainable transport sums up many of the lessons learnt and how they can be applied in improved planning [20]. Figure 1 presents a diagram of information flow in a typical telematics system.

Fig. 1
figure 1

Information flow in typical telematics system [16]

The GPS signal is sent from the vehicles to the main GPS system via satellites. Thanks to this, using the appropriate telematics system, we can locate a given vehicle through the GPS signal. "A telematics system meeting basic location and communication services should have an object's position determination system and information transfer system to the control center. Automatic position determination (without the operator's control) can be done by determining geographical coordinates (GPS) and comparing this position with the map, pinpointing the position of the mobile station (GPS) or by reading the position from transmitters or markers via microwave, infrared or electromagnetic transporters" [21]. Nowadays, telematics systems are transmitted with the use of specially dedicated devices with a GPS signal, mobile phones or via WIFI. The key element in using these systems is are GPS receivers. "GPS—Global Positioning System" is a satellite system for identifying the location of objects on the globe” [17]. It can be stated that the term telematics systems can be used to indicate many information systems whose main purpose is to locate cars. However, the use of GPS is still the most popular and used in this area. The further evolution of information systems and technological progress will undoubtedly affect the development of transport systems. It will be possible to implement new innovations that also affect intelligent traffic [22]. New IT solutions, ubiquitous progress, and growing requirements of logistics service customers make a pressure on the development of systems dedicated to the location of means of transport. The following years will be a prospect for the development of transport, new directions and systems for their more effective work. This will be greatly supported by customers whose requirements and awareness is increasing, for example in terms of control and influence on the organization and management of transport services. According to Industry 4.0, the development of visualization tools will increase, to the use of robots for this purpose [23, 24], with the simulation systems [25], mobile devices and mobile software, creating a temporary network in the situation of emerging business opportunities [26, 27]. The use of new solutions and tools to optimize logistics processes is valuable, but the costs of these implementations should always be reimbursed in relation to the total costs incurred by the company [28, 29]. The systems used in transport and forwarding have many solutions. The subject of interest of this article is the real-time identification of vehicles with the use of telematics systems.

3 Methodology

The source of the data used in this research was the survey which covered 200 enterprises established in Poland. The survey was conducted in April and May 2020. The questionnaire consisted of 3 parts: general information about the company, part obligatory for transport (and forwarding) companies, part obligatory for non-transport (and non-forwarding) companies. This division into two categories was based on the willingness of comparison between companies which are supposed to use telematics systems in the first place with the rest of entities representing other sectors of the economy. Table 1 presents the breakdown of companies participating in the research in terms of sector, size and range. The group of transport companies included also forwarding entities.

Table 1 The classification of surveyed entities

The size of the companies was determined by the number of workers. Due to the lack of data on the turnover in the given enterprises, only the number of employees was included in the classification. Transport and forwarding companies stood for 30% of the research sample, the rest of the entities represented other services and manufacturing.

The research comprised of 3 main parts. The first was the statistical frequency analysis of specific aspects concerning systems supporting transport management. The second part was the indicator analysis and the last part was the model. Statistical frequency analysis used simple rate index. In the second part 2 indicators were used.

The first one is the indicator of the use of transport information systems. It is used to show the degree of the use of information transport systems in relation to all information systems used in the enterprise.

$$\theta_{TS} = \frac{{T_{TS} * 100\% }}{{S_{IT} }}$$


\(\theta_{TS}\)—the degree of the use of information transport systems,

\(T_{TS}\)—number of information transport systems used,

\(S_{IT}\)—the number of information systems used to manage the enterprise.

The second indicator shows the degree of the use of GPS based telematics systems in relation to all information transport systems which are used in assessed entities.

$$\theta_{TG} = \frac{{T_{TG} * 100\% }}{{T_{TS} }}$$


\(\theta_{TG}\)—the degree of the use of telematics systems using GPS for transport management,

\(T_{TG}\)—the number of telematics systems used that use GPS to manage transport,

\(T_{TS}\)—number of information transport systems used.

The next phase of the research was the development of the model which would be able to explain what are the main factors determining if the telematics system is or is not used by the company. For this purpose authors created statistical probability probit model which calculates the probability of the use of telematics system by the company. The probit model was chosen to the analysis as the one which has two-level output. In this specific case these two outputs were: the company uses telematics system (dependent variable’s value equals to 1), the company does not use telematics system (dependent variable’s value equals to 0).

To calculate the probability authors used the formula (3) for the probability of occurrence of the event in the probit model [30]:

$$p_{i} = prob\left[ {Y_{i} = 1|X} \right] = \phi \left( {x_{i}^{\prime } \beta } \right) = \int\limits_{ - \infty }^{{x_{i}^{\prime } \beta }} {\left( {2\pi } \right)}^{{ - \frac{1}{2}}} \exp \left( { - \frac{{t^{2} }}{2}} \right)dt$$

\(\phi\)—distribution function of the normal distribution,

\(x_{i}^{\prime } \beta\)—linear combination of independent variables:

$$x_{i}^{\prime } \beta = \beta_{0} + \beta_{1} x_{1} + \cdots \beta_{k} x_{k}$$

The interpretation of \(\beta\) coefficients obtained in the model is limited. It can only be used to indicate the direction of the relationship. To assess the strength of the dependence authors performed the calculation of the marginal effect for changing the value of the xk variable when the other variables remain constant. The following formula was used [30]:

$$\frac{\partial pi}{{\partial xik}} = \varphi \left( {x_{i}^{\prime } \beta } \right)\beta_{k}$$

\(\varphi\) – probability density function of a standard normal variable.

Gretl software was used in computing the model. Its output was dependent of three indepentent variables as:

  • Size the size of the company can take on 4 different values: 0 for micro, 1 for small, 2 for medium, 3 for large company;

  • Sector this variable equals to 1 for transport (and forwarding) companies and 0 for other entities;

  • Range the range of activity is measured by the number of countries where the entity operates. The values for this variable in this specific model range from 1 to 22.

4 Results

The first main aspect verified by the conducted survey was the use of systems which support transport management (Fig. 2). The first important observation is the fact that the percentage of entities using such systems was significantly higher among transport companies than others. The only exception was the ERP system which was more common among non-transport companies. It was also the third most frequently used system behind GPS and transport exchange. The least common systems were: route planning and telematics and what is important telematics systems were implemented only by transport companies.

Fig. 2
figure 2

The use of systems which support transport management

The aspect concerning the most common system—GPS was more detailed. Respondents were asked to specify what kind of the system they used (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3
figure 3

Specific types of GPS systems used in transport and non-transport companies

When it comes to transport companies in most cases they use external GPS devices and dedicated real-time positioning system. Pre-installed systems are the least common in this group but this is the most frequent solution among non-transport companies. The proportion of the use of dedicated real-time system in this group is similar to this observed in transport sector. 9.09% of non-transport companies use GPS system installed in external equipment.

Different perspective for this issue is presented in Fig. 4.

Fig. 4
figure 4

Specific types of GPS systems used in companies of different size

Micro companies did not use any GPS system. Small entities used all specified types of GPS systems but the most common was this used from external devices. When it comes to medium companies they use GPS system on external devices too and less often systems pre-installed in vehicles. In general large companies used GPS systems to the greatest extent. The most common solution implemented by them was the system pre-installed in new vehicles and GPS system dedicated only to location of cars.

The third step to analyze the issue of using various GPS system was the breakdown in consideration of the range of the company (Fig. 5).

Fig. 5
figure 5

Specific types of GPS systems used in companies with different range

The dominance of international companies in the figure comes from their amount. They stand for the vast majority of analyzed entities using GPS systems. GPS systems pre-installed in vehicles was used also by entities with countrywide range. Other to types of GPS systems were used by both mentioned groups of companies and in addition by regional and global entities. Companies with local range did not use any of mentioned GPS systems.

These days GPS sensors are mounted in vehicles of all manufacturers, what seem to be convenient for users. The problem appears when they would like to find the real-time location of many different transportation units using one software. It was pointed out by 5.4% respondents representing transport sector and 50% of non-transport entities (Table 2).

Table 2 The possibility of real-time fleet position tracking in single program

Logistic service recipients face a considerable constraint in tracking real-time position of the whole fleet. It is possible to do it when it comes to own fleet and regular contractors. In other cases it is possible to use e.g. transport exchanges to determine the vehicle’s position but it requires two different systems to be involved in this process. It is getting more sophisticated when using multiple freight exchanges. The recipients would like to be able to monitor the real-time position of rented vehicles simultaneously in one system. This need was indicated by 26.7% of transport and 31,5% non-transport companies (Table 3).

Table 3 The needs of improvement in transport management

The mentioned problem was the second-most common area for improvement in the study behind the issue of route planning. There also appeared to be a significant need for unifying GPS systems used in vehicles which is also connected to the idea of single whole fleet real-time positioning system. The next area for improvement are the settlements with the driver but this issue was signalized nearly twice more often by non-transport companies. Changes such as implementing telematics systems and improvement in the drivers’ training were desirable only for transport companies and more specifically 6.7% of this group.

In the second part of the study 2 indicators were calculated based on the data derived through conducted survey. In Table 4 they are presented in last two columns and supplemented with additional information.

Table 4 The analysis of the use of telematics systems based on GPS

The most important, but also predictable, conclusion concerns the use of systems supporting transport management. For transport companies these are primary professional tool to operate, thus 90.5% use them on a different scale. For non-transport companies, this kind of systems are not crucial for the main activity and it results in usage rate equal to 39.3%. The difference between assessed groups is even more significant when considering specifically GPS systems. 40% of the software used to support company’s activity in transport sector is dedicated to transport operations. In non-transport group this rate reaches 11.7%.

Finally, when it comes to assessed indicators, the degree of the use of information transport systems is calculated for 47% for transport and 41% for non-transport companies. This is caused by the wide market variety of transport supporting tools and systems in relation to comprehensive management tools which cover many organizational areas e.g. production, sourcing, HR, marketing logistics in one software package. The values for the second indicator, the degree of the use of telematics systems using GPS for transport management, were respectively: 4% and 12% for transport and non-transport companies. It also resulted from the wide variety of transport supporting systems and tools. In average transport company GPS-based telematics system is only one part of well developed set of transport supporting tools. Potential use of new systems will reduce this rate to even lower levels.

The last part of the study was to develop a probit model which would help in determining the main characteristics of the firm which influence the implementation of telematics systems. Variables and values characterizing the model are presented in Table 5.

Table 5 Probit model—values describing the implementation of telematics system in company

All 3 independent variables have positive influence on implementing telematics system in the company, but only size and sector are statistically significant. The range turned out to be statistically insignificant and in this specific case it means that the number of countries where companies operate did not influence the fact of telematics system implementation. Dealing with transport as a main activity rises the possibility of implementing telematics system by 66.55%, when moving to higher size category by 29.49%. It is worth noting that both variables represent financial aspects. The first one is connected to using the professional tool which sometimes is not only useful, but crucial to compete on the market. The size of the company is highly related with financial capabilities. Bigger companies can afford telematics systems even if this is not their priority. Predicted correlation of the model is calculated for 80%.

5 New trends and possibilities in the field of real-time monitoring and control of vehicles—discussion

New solutions in the field of transport are determined by emerging problems and greater awareness and requirements of customers of transport and forwarding companies. Currently, when renting a vehicle to carry a transportation process in a transport company, the customer not only wants to know what the cost of the service will be, but also when it arrives, at what stage of the service it currently is, where it is physically located at the moment. On the other side of the process, there is staff managing their transport fleet. Most management personnel face the problem of not having possibility of real-time vehicle control and tracking in one telematics system. Most vehicles used for transportation are equipped with pre-installed telematics systems and in the same time various types of additional software is used when operating them. The usual software used to monitor the transport fleet is software that works via sensors installed in the vehicles. Currently, all new cars are equipped with GPS sensors. However, these systems can be assembled individually. These are GPS tracking systems and fuel economy probes. The GPS sensor and probe sync with the software installed on the computer in the office. As a result, the owner of the transport fleet is able to locate all his vehicles in real time. The problem with locating may occur when using external means of transport, e.g. using the services of a shipping company or trusted carriers, recommended or rented through a freight exchange. Then you can't control the cars. It should be emphasized that the implementation of GPS systems in the entire fleet generates additional costs. It is undoubtedly important that the manufacturer installs GPS systems to each vehicle.

Figure 6 presents a simplified supply chain, including the services of transport and forwarding companies as well as information intermediaries e.g. transport exchanges. It should be emphasized that in the case of subsequent resale of transactions on transport exchanges, the company may only act as an intermediary or forwarder, and may not carry out transport. In economic practice, we deal with many such situations in the transport industry. Thus, it is crucial that the final recipient of the transport service knows the location of the vehicles. The first platforms with such solutions (eg CO3) are beginning to appear in Poland. Their task will be to indicate the location after identifying the GPS sensor, regardless of its type.

Fig. 6
figure 6

Diagram of central communication of telematics systems using GPS

Figure 7 presents the implementation diagram for a central telematics system.

Fig. 7
figure 7

Central control system for information from telematics systems

The figure above presents the idea of a central telematics system. In the first place, companies that have a load to be transported look for a carrier with the help of an intermediary or they will directly deliver the goods using their own means of transport. Companies that use transport services as part of outsourcing use an intermediary in the form of: transport exchanges, transport and forwarding companies etc. Information about the location of the car via GPS signals is sent to the central telematic system in the form of a website. After logging in and receiving the identification number of the given car, each party (customer, broker, provider) can track the car in real time. The innovation in this solution is the ability to supervise the journey by each of the parties, including service recipients, which was impossible in the previous solutions.

Summarizing, the idea behind the presented solution is direct transfer of location information from individual vehicles to the central system. Then, the information about the location of each vehicle can be found not only by its owner, but also by the person renting the vehicle for transport via freight exchanges, a company using the services of transport and forwarding companies etc. Hence, it is a solution to the real-time vehicle location problem that emerged from the research conducted by the authors.

Among the new solutions and innovations for transport and shipping, there are many that indicate the development of this industry. The described telematics system and solutions for sharing information about the location and course of a route for all partners in the supply chain is undoubtedly a new and innovative solution. Other new solutions in transport and forwarding include:

  • Use of drones for locating, monitoring the course of the route and increasing security. Polish State Railways in Poland use drones, among others for security control of hard coal transport, thanks to which the percentage of theft has drastically decreased,

  • Use of drones to deliver individual shipments that are part of transport, e.g. as part of transport services or replacing transport with drones,

  • Using drones to quickly move urgently needed loads, e.g. blood between hospitals, resuscitation equipment in the event of an accident,

  • Air taxis constructed on the base of drones,

  • Designing autonomous cars and their many varieties, e.g. cars running on autopilot, trains made of individual trucks,

  • Virtual forwarder, replacing forwarders with new software,

  • Intermediation in the form of electronic transport exchanges,

  • IT applications and programs for car identification, route designing, fuel consumption control are certainly no longer innovations, but still new solutions that did not function a few years ago.

The possibility of identifying and tracking vehicles in real time, and the installation of GPS sensors in all vehicles fits the general direction of the development of logistics. An access for real-time tracking for all freight participants is necessary due to the need to adjust the reception and many unloading operations performed "on time". On the other hand, the financial aspects will also be resolve. What is the further direction of transport development in this area? The implementation of vehicle tracking systems and the design of autonomous trucks operated by drivers. Someday it may happen that one person behind the monitor will control individual trucks driving around the world without drivers.

6 Conclusion

The development of modern enterprises depends on a flexible form of management and approach to new trends, solutions and innovations used in a given industry. It is similar in transport and forwarding. The article presents original research with an indication of the use of IT systems in transport services. The study was carried out on two sides: transport and forwarding companies and other enterprises in which the transport process is used as an additional activity.

The results of the research carried out in this study showed that implementing the telematics system in the company is positively influenced by 2 factors: operating in transport sector and size of the company. The range of activities turned out to be not statistically significant.

Undoubtedly, the research gap is the use of telematic systems in transport and forwarding—their scope and possibilities of use. The results of the research showed that although telematic systems are used in many enterprises, their scope of operation is limited. The research shows that only the owners of the car fleet or the transport and forwarding company have access to the current vehicle tracking. The problem and the gap is the tracking of vehicles by all parties to a given transport contract (the owner of the cargo, the company commissioning the transport or the company to which the cargo is to be delivered). The study presents a new solution—the use of a central telematics system for tracking vehicles in real time. The idea behind this solution is that both sides of the transport service could identify and control the transport of a given cargo. It is a new solution that uses an external, independent entity that identifies the GPS signal of the transportation unit and, on the other hand, transmits its location. Location systems indicate the location of trucks, but unfortunately not every party, e.g. the recipient to whom the delivery is to be delivered, can identify the location of these trucks.

The article also indicates innovations in the area of logistics and directions for further development. Transport is one of the areas where, due to economic and organizational reasons, it is necessary to introduce many changes, such as reducing the number of drivers, ensuring safer journeys, reducing the number of forwarders etc. These factors are related to the lack of suitable people to work and high employment costs. In addition, it is aimed at ensuring that transport is carried out as safely and economically as possible, hence many solutions reducing travel costs and proper design of trucks.