Logistics is a complex sector, which can profit with the help of Internet-of-Things technologies. With IoT devices, the process of storage at the warehouse and shipping from port to manufacturer and end customer will be more organized and cost-effective. Read on to learn about problems in logistics, the solutions that IoT offer, and the outcomes of its implementation.
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How IoT Can Improve the Logistics Industry
Present and Future of Logistics
The global market has witnessed a rapid growth of e-commerce in recent years, and logistics has had to handle the increased demand, along with insufficient personnel and low profits. The burning issue today is to find new ways to optimize major procedures so they can face the upcoming challenges. Internet-of-Things cutting-edge methods will simplify process and make it more efficient.
Major Problems in Logistics
The logistics processes are fairly complex and usually include several stages that require close attention and constant enhancement. Let’s consider the parts of logistics process that can benefit from extensive implementation of IoT:
- Storage and warehousing
- Planning, wrapping
- Inventory management
- Control of transportation
As the industry evolves, new issues emerge, caused by external factors such as the latest international market trends, higher customer requirements and skyrocketing demand.
One of the pressing challenges is that despite omnipresent digital technologies, companies still frequently get their orders through analog channels. In this context, it is more difficult for them to record shipment details and process orders quickly and efficiently.
Dedicated Time Booking
Clients of logistics companies are eager to book specific time windows for product pick-up and delivery. As a rule, they have to book dedicated time in advance, usually 24 hours before the interaction. When a definite time is scheduled, it is difficult to change afterward, which causes significant inconveniences for companies as the intended pick-up or delivery window becomes less flexible.
Customers want to monitor the current shipping status of their goods so that they are not lost, for example, on their way from the port to the warehouse or manufacturer. This level of transparency has become a real challenge for companies. Conventional barcode scanning procedures are inefficient because they are time-consuming. Transportation systems are not suitably equipped to provide this information to the client on a regular basis.
Transfer of Shipping Information
If logistics companies do not transfer their shipping information, it has to be transferred by the service provider, which can lead to incorrect recording of information. The situation is aggravated by a lack of qualified specialists. As a result, shipments are not reloaded on time due to the absence of recorded shipping data, which disrupts smooth delivery.
The Advantages of IoT for Logistics
IoT devices can collect and transmit data via sensors and actuators, scalable cloud solutions, and user-friendly communication networks. The advantages of IoT technologies for the logistics sector are:
- monitoring the state of a driver and vehicle
- real-time object identification and tracking
- ensuring proper storage conditions and product safety
- effective data transmission
- avoiding media breaks thanks to extensive digitization
- delivery time estimation
- remote control of the transportation process.
With IoT, old-fashioned supply chain patterns are left behind and the operational efficiency of the sector is increased. In terms of communication, there will be no more media breaks thanks to extensive usage of real-time digital interaction instead of such analog methods as phone, paper and fax. As a result, the transportation costs, resource allocation and the entire shipment process are significantly optimized.
4 Major Aspects of a Connected Ecosystem in Logistics
Even before the emergence of IoT technology, the logistics sphere used connected ecosystems to monitor the process of delivery to guarantee timely shipment to remote locations. There are four major aspects of the connected ecosystem:
1) Communication System
The communication system facilitates continuous communication between drivers and managers. Usually, the main means of interaction between them are cell phones, which often lack the appropriate quality of connection.
2) Location Tracking
GPS devices are used to track the specific location of vehicles at a given moment in time. These tracking tools help logistics industries calculate the estimated delivery time and monitor the tracks on the way to the warehouse, port, or ultimate destination.
3) Monitoring of the Supply Chain
Supply chain real-time monitoring systems play an important role in the industry. These instruments help companies streamline the entire supply chain process, including acquisition of raw stuff and shipping of ready-to-use products.
The transportation industry has to handle various IT security threats, the number of which has amplified recently. Hacker attacks on confidential data can affect not only companies, but also third-party vendors and the end clients.
Applications of IoT in Logistics
Delivery from Supplier to Manufacturer
A real-time location system (RTLS) is used to track the delivery of materials from each vendor to the producer. It is especially beneficial where there are multiple vendors — if the delivery from one vendor is postponed, you can substitute it with another vendor’s services.
Deliveries to the Manufacturing Facility
With RTLS, it is easier for truck drivers to unload the products at the correct place, avoiding product loss and wrong delivery. Similarly, for the manufacturer, it is easier to locate and pick up the products.
Tracking at the Manufacturing Facility
When materials arrive at the factory, they can be mixed up by mistake, which can lead to wrong cycle times and disrupted production. Thanks to RTLS, it is always possible to tell the exact location of the tagged goods and ensure correct manufacturing procedures.
To keep sensitive goods fresh and maintain their quality, certain environmental requirements need to be fulfilled. There are special IoT apps that help tag products and monitor a number of environmental characteristics. For example, they can check the humidity, light, and temperature, as well as shock and vibration exposure during transportation to and from the port, manufacturer, or warehouse. This data can be used to notify the managers of damaged goods before they reach the factory or end customer.
Sensors collect huge amounts of data on a daily basis. To structure and analyze this data properly, IoT tools can be used. With these instruments, managers can implement predictive maintenance, make more efficient decisions, and improve the warehousing and shipping process.
Timely updates on the driver’s health, vehicle state and traffic conditions give insight into how to improve fleet management strategies. Thanks to this information, specialists can get a clear view of how the resources are used and create new ways to increase efficiency. Implementation of IoT can help reduce delivery time, fuel costs, and streamline car maintenance.
The application of IoT in logistics can also help keep up with demand, which facilitates effective supply chain management. Smart technologies can predict demand based on a comprehensive analysis of multiple factors such as user behavior, current market trends, customer intention and preferences, the reasons why the buyers make the purchases, and how they use the goods afterward.
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With IoT technologies, you can create a smart warehouse with the ability to remotely control inventory assets. These capabilities help prevent under- or overloading, monitor the fuel level and the condition of goods, and can easily locate the goods on their way to the warehouse, port, or end customer.