Logistics management requires monitoring multiple activities at once — supply chain, warehousing, and so on. There are dozens of factors that can influence the process itself and cause delays. To streamline processes and increase customer satisfaction, logistics managers should embrace innovations that IoT has to offer.
The Internet of Things, among other technologies, provides businesses with tools for planning, monitoring, and heightening the security of all operations.
In this post, you’ll learn about how IoT contributes to the logistics industry, affordable IoT applications, and the ways major brands implement the technology.
Goals of IoT Technology for the Logistics Industry
Companies use IoT to improve logistics processes — both in warehouses and beyond. According to Statista, by next year worldwide companies will spend over $40 billion on connected products to increase the productivity of deliveries.
What are the objectives which these innovations can help businesses accomplish? As a rule, businesses implement the Internet of Things in logistics with the following goals in mind:
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1. Improved security and theft detection
Connected applications increase the control over who enters the warehouse at any given time, help track all items, and alert the business manager in case something goes missing. Examples of IoT-powered security applications are connected CCTVs, apps that allow warehouse managers to block the doors of the facility remotely, asset tracking logistics applications that help monitor deliveries, and more.
2. Higher employee safety
Unreliable machinery puts companies at risk of endangering the lives of its staff. The Internet of Things’ effects on logistics include employee protection by detecting equipment issues long before a human interacts with a tool.
IoT sensors significantly increase the response time, in case something happened to an employee. A wearable immediately detects a critical change in vitals and transfers the data to a dedicated platform that alerts the manager and even calls an ambulance.
3. End-to-end product tracking
Increasing the transparency of the delivery process is the primary objective business managers want to achieve with IoT implementation.
Being able to track the product all the way from the warehouse to the customer’s doorstep increases the manager’s confidence that all stages of the supply chain are completed smoothly.
It also boosts the client’s trust in the brand and saves support agents a ton of time as customers no longer bother customer support with delivery status update requests.
4. Providing business managers with advanced analytics
Thanks to a broad range of applications, the Internet of Things provides business managers with the big-picture view of the way all operations are handled.
By collecting data from sensors and presenting it in a concise, understandable way, IoT offers a holistic approach to logistics management.
Here’s a range of things company owners will be aware of:
The number of items in the warehouse;
The temperature in the warehouse;
The environmental conditions during deliveries;
Real-time delivery and inventory monitoring improves the quality of planning and budget allocation. The datum, provided by the Internet of Things and logistics, comes in handy during inspections as well so that nothing will catch a manager by surprise.
5. Improving delivery
There are a handful of ways the Internet of Things facilitates delivery management. RFID tags and connected GPS sensors help business managers track shipping all the way to its final stage.
Also, thanks to connected sensors, logistics managers can get real-time location data to ensure the weather or other environmental changes will not jeopardize the delivery.
How the Internet of Things is Improving the Transportation Industry
Logistics and transportation have always been risky fields due to the lack of control over weather conditions, high odds of scams, and a wide range of assets to manage.
With the Internet of Things, logistics can finally become a fully controlled domain, where all the factors that could negatively impact the delivery process can be either neutralized or avoided.
In a nutshell, these are the benefits of using the Internet of Things in transportation:
Reliable vehicle tracking. The Internet of Things helps businesses track the location of each vehicle and compare the most cost-efficient route with the one a driver has taken. Being highly aware of the ins-and-outs of the delivery process helps company owners evaluate employee performance and incentivize best practices, proactively react to problems on the road, and manage them with the lowest number of losses. .
Reducing shipping costs. Automated order processing and status updating help companies cut the number of employees in charge of shipping, reducing overall operating costs. Using connected bots for last-mile delivery helps cut costs exponentially, as well as increase customer satisfaction. Amazon has been benefitting from autonomous bots and drop-shipping lockers for over 5 years, improving the convenience of delivery and generating profit.
Improved supply chain planning. The Internet of Things provides businesses with multi-faceted data — how much time it takes to sell a given amount of products in the inventory, what the ways to optimize deliveries are, which employees have better track records, which distribution centers have higher conversions. As a result, business managers can plan operations and predict the outcome of business decisions rather accurately.
Employee monitoring. IoT devices in logistics allow business managers to monitor the staff’s physical safety using wearables and vital sensors. With the Internet of Things, you will be able to protect employees from exposure to toxic substances and alert drivers if they are not adhering to safety practices. There are even devices that can detect an employee’s moving speed and the number of bathroom breaks and evaluate staff’s efficiency based on the data. To some managers, such in-depth tracking may be over-the-top. However, it does provide you with a better understanding of employee motivation and time-management skills.
Preventing product theft and monitoring transportation conditions. The range of IoT and logistics anti-theft devices is enormous — connected hardware to detect intrusion, sensors for real-time asset tracking, alarm systems, smart fences, and others. A business manager will be able to find an IoT solution for logistics that provides an increased inventory and supply chain visibility, protects from scams, product theft, or tampering.
Internet of Things Logistics Use Cases
The Internet of Things offers a ton of benefits for logistics companies. That’s why there are more than a few successful Internet of Things in logistics applications. The most widespread IoT use cases are the following:
1. Inventory tracking systems
Inventory tracking systems assist logistics managers in planning re-stocking and distributions.
Thanks to connected sensors, company owners will be able to ensure the products are stored safely, save time by being able to instantly locate a needed item, and minimize human errors. The connected system implemented at Amazon is proof of how technology can improve asset tracking and warehouse management.
2. Predictive analytics systems
Predictive analytics solutions help business managers make informed decisions regarding warehouse management and supply chain planning.
Such tools are used for laying out the shortest delivery routes, detecting early signs of deficient equipment, and reminding staff when it's time to replace equipment components.
Predictive analytics systems increase the productivity of warehouses and cut delivery costs. Amazon’s ‘Anticipatory Shipping’ IoT in logistics case study is an example of a smart way to use predictive analytics.
3. Location management tools
With IoT in transportation and logistics, company managers can keep track of the real-time location of each vehicle, delivery statuses, and the estimated time needed to complete the process.
Here are the objectives location management tools help logistics companies to accomplish:
Reduce theft thanks to accurate asset tracking;
Eliminate traffic-induced time losses;
Ensure a vendor complies with the obligations set in a contract.
4. Drone-based delivery
Drones are an efficient way to speed up and automate deliveries. In logistics, they can be used to improve navigation within the warehouse, provide customers with instant in-store deliveries, and solve last-mile delivery issues.
Once it is more commonplace, drone-based delivery will significantly cut operational costs and reduced the amount of workforce needed to keep high customer satisfaction rates.
Amazon is actively exploring the concept of drone-based delivery. This innovation is still in the making — hopefully, in a few years, drone-based delivery will become the next big thing in retail.
5. Automated vehicles
Automated trucks will be a major innovation in logistics, McKinsey estimates. It is indeed likely that logistics companies will be among the pioneers in self-driving vehicle adoption and the ones to benefit the most from logistic innovations.
Using AVs helps business managers have more control over the delivery process, reduce the impact of human error, and benefit from machine intelligence.
The vehicles will choose the most convenient route, adjust the temperature and other properties within the vehicle to store products in a favorable environment, and many other applications custom to each delivery.
The Internet of Things provides logistics managers with control and transparency they couldn’t have seen coming before. Thanks to real-time data sharing and device-to-device communication, technology can provide insights for improving decision-making and even assist in streamlining deliveries as an independent player.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to IoT software development. Depending on the company manager’s objectives, the functionality of the tool, as well as the development budget, may vary.
If you want a team of professional IoT developers to design a personalized solution for logistics management, contact Digiteum. Our developers are skilled in building projects using RFID tags, sensors, cloud computing, and other technologies. Over the years of experience, we have created solutions for small- and large-scale businesses across all major industries. At Digiteum, developers are familiar with the best practices and trends in logistics software development.
Take a look at our case studies to see how Digiteum can contribute to your project. To consult a developer directly, leave a message — we’ll design a solution that meets your company’s needs.
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Digiteum is a custom software development company helping businesses reach their clients. We focus on creating and delivering customer-centric solutions across web, mobile and IoT.