27 June 2018

Link by Link: Walking through the IoT supply chain

BlogPost
Link by Link: Walking through the IoT supply chain

The IoT creates the opportunity for every part of the supply chain to be connected like never before. For the first time, logistics companies, manufacturers, and retailers won’t just be able to keep track of shipments when they reach ports and warehouses, they’ll be able to keep track of shipments throughout their journey. No matter where their products are, companies will be able to have all of the data they need to ensure their shipment is safe and on track. 

 

The growth of the connected supply chain:

A supply chain connected by the Internet of Things (loT) is already a reality. A recent survey found that over two-thirds of retail and manufacturing businesses have already started transforming their logistics operations. By the end of the decade, the supply chain will look completely different. Gartner expects there to be a thirty-fold increase the number of Internet-connected physical devices by 2020, which will have a significant impact on the way the supply chain operates. And that could have a substantial economic impact. Cisco estimated in 2015 that solutions such as asset tracking could have as much as a $1.9 trillion impact on the supply chain and logistics industry. 

What does a connected supply chain look like?

In a supply chain connected by the IoT, a physical, internet-connected device is installed at every possible point. This includes storage containers, warehouses, ships, and airplanes. Each device is connected to a bi-directional, low power wide area (LPWA) network that allows for two-way communication between the device and an access point. 

 

Each connected device sends small, regular messages that keep organizations informed with real-time data, while also conserving battery life. The devices monitor a range of critical variables, including: 

 

  • Time in transport
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • CO2 levels
  • Pressure
  • Light
  • Voltage

 

So, instead of companies tracking the location of their assets through barcode scanning, the IoT allows organizations complete visibility over their products. They won’t just know where their goods are, they will know what condition they are in as well. 

How are enterprises using the connected supply chain?

The IoT is completely transforming supply chain visibility. Real-time data and bi-directional communication is enabling companies to use IoT-powered supply chains in the following ways. 

 

24/7 mobile monitoring 

With bi-directionally connected sensors, logistics companies, suppliers, and retailers can monitor the location and conditions of their assets remotely, wherever they are in the world. Because data is generated in real time, they are able to get up-to-the-minute reports that allow them to make changes to transport conditions and transport routes proactively. For example, if conditions worsen and assets are in danger of spoiling, logistics companies can remotely alter conditions or notify staff on-site to change the transport conditions by hand. Similarly, if time is of the essence, companies can monitor every transport route available and redirect the time-sensitive shipment to the quickest possible route. 

Storage monitoring 

Products don’t have to be at sea or in the air to be monitored. With IoT connected devices, storage conditions can also be monitored constantly. Vital statistics, such as temperature, humidity and light can constantly be monitored and amended if the need arises. 

Real-time alerts 

Businesses don’t have to be constantly monitoring data to be notified if something goes wrong. With real-time alerts, the concerned parties can be notified the instant a crucial variable, such as temperature, drops. With a notification for everyone, from text messages and emails to sirens, businesses are given the gift of time to act quickly and avoid a disaster. 

Data analysis 

In the information age, data is power. All of the data connected to the network is stored in the cloud and accessible indefinitely. This means that companies no longer have to worry about compliance or data storage, everything is taken care of. 

 

For more information on the benefits of an IoT-powered supply chain, read the case study at Sigfox. 

 

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