One of the most popular concepts in logistics management is that of the ‘7Rs’ – ensuring that the right product is delivered to the right customer at the right place and time, in the right quantity and condition, and at the right cost. Given the nature of operations across widely distributed networks, the Internet of Things (IoT) has a plethora of applications in the logistics sector. Logistics providers have traditionally been among the early adopters in the space of connected devices which can sense and communicate with each other, putting these companies at the forefront of the IoT revolution today. As IoT capabilities expand, companies in this space can enjoy real-time visibility into every aspect of their business – from warehousing operations to freight transportation and last-mile delivery.
The logistics ecosystem involves multiple stakeholders, and consignments or goods that need to be handled and transferred between the ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ side of the logistics chain. The supply side includes warehouses that serve as the vital hub for storing and forwarding goods; a transport network such as road, air, sea or tunnels and the vehicles that move goods from suppliers to warehouses and eventually the customer. The demand side includes the final product to be transported and the customers or end users expecting the product. Real-time visibility into the movement of goods across the supply and demand side of the logistics chain empowers stakeholders to make intelligent decisions that improve profitability and unlock higher levels of operational efficiencies.
IoT-enabled sensors like RFID tags, and cloud-based GPS provide extensive information about products in the logistics chain – from identity and location, to environmental conditions like temperature and pressure which may impact the quality of products. At a broad level, some common applications of IoT across the supply and demand side of the logistics chain include:
• Inventory control and optimal utilization of warehouse capacity
• Route optimization of delivery vehicles based on traffic analysis
• Improved fleet uptime and utilization through proactive maintenance
• Real-time traceability of consignments and vehicles/containers
• Detection of unauthorized opening of packages to prevent theft
• Monitoring of sensitive packages to prevent damage due to environmental conditions
• Timely delivery of consignments through quicker identification and rectification of issues
To benefit from the adoption of IoT, logistics providers must move beyond the implementation of technology as a mere track-and-trace solution and integrate the existing IoT technology elements to connect all stakeholders in the logistics chain in a shared-view environment, enabling real-time communication and providing access to data that can drive intelligent decisions. Where IoT can and should be deployed for maximum value is in the creation of digital platforms empowered by an ecosystem of transparent information sharing that minimizes errors and delays, making the logistics chain agile, inclusive and wise. An example of such a deployment is t4u’s Wise Move Ecosystem for manufactured product logistics.
Stay tuned to the next blog post, where we walk you through technology innovations in the warehousing sector that are primed to benefit logistics providers.