The Internet of Things (IoT) is making life easier for us human beings for sure, but in the grand scheme of things, it affects much more than initially conceivable by the masses. The word ‘affect’ of course is a very mild way of putting it, especially since IoT is actually disrupting the logistical business, specifically supply chain management.
While it is common knowledge that ERP (enterprise resource planning) and supply chain management have accompanied each other for a long time now, the revolution that IoT is bringing to the table could quite aptly be called SCM 2.0. Via deeper intelligence, visibility is raised within a particular plant, because of the solutions that bring about the intelligent connection between people, processes, data, and things via devices, sensors, and nodes.
The logistics ecosystem is a compound made up of many moving parts held together by an agile and well-informed supply network that handles manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, retailers, and the customers. In order to contain everyone, the employment of a cloud-based GPS and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology helps in detailing identity, location, and other vital tracking information which form the backbone of visibility in an establishment. The data collected from the aforementioned technologies pave the way for supply chain personnel to efficiently automate shipping and delivery by anticipating arrival times most of all, but also very importantly, little details like temperature control, which concern the quality of goods.
The whole process sounds something like this:
- RFID pallet gets implanted, which is accompanied by an integrated device
- Data finds its way to the cloud
- Devices identify the pallet
- Localities are shared along with data like weather conditions, traffic conditions, and driver-specific data.
Visibility in its essence heightens awareness in and out of one’s business, stakeholders included. Efficient decisions are made and overall productivity is elevated at the expense of superfluous expenditure. This all contributes to one’s business transitioning from being reactive to becoming proactive, with the help of information arriving much earlier than in an age not too long ago.
To consider the potential that IoT has in affecting the supply chain, it should be well worth noting that while it has yet to entirely envelop the industry, more and more supply chain professionals have been tuning in, convinced that a deeper level of intelligence into supply and demand will not only benefit everyone in the ecosystem but will fuel today’s bigger-picture digital business landscape.
Considerations to be made:
- Knowledge of product issues in time ~ reduces asset loss
- Monitoring traffic conditions ~ optimises fleet routes and saves on fuel
- Monitoring temperatures ~ saves food products (roughly 1/3 of all produce perish in transit every year)
- Monitoring inventories ~ ensure stock availability on end
- Visibility enhancing sensors ~ provides valuable user insights
- Reducing redundancies ~ fleets become more efficient
The next level
While tracking of goods and products in transit between manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and retailers are often spoken about, these days customers are becoming part of the picture too as retailers have now invested in tracking the products that shoppers look at, bring into the changing rooms and end up purchasing, all in a bid to determine conversion rates.
Eventually, the increased connectivity will help in bringing us humans closer together too, with increased synchronisation constantly at the forefront of agendas with the Internet of Things.