Today there’s a lot of articles and blog posts written about Internet of Things (IoT) and how it can affect almost every aspect of the global industries. Today, most of the stakeholders and people with special interests in supply chain management want to know and really understand the impact of IoT on Supply Chain management. Engineers and financial experts predict that by 2020, more than half of the businesses will have incorporated some elements of IoT. By this time, they also predict that more than 26 billion internet-connected smart devices will be installed to generate more than $300 billion by the end of the decade. In this brief, we are going to define and discuss IoT and eventually give some of the ways through which it will affect the supply chain.
What is IoT?
Internet of everything simply refers to billions of devices that are connected to the internet, interconnected to collect data and share. This is facilitated by the cheap processors and wireless internet connections. This has come to bring digital Intelligence to devices that if nothing is done will be otherwise damp. This gives these devices the ability to communicate real-time data without necessarily needing human assistance. As a matter of fact, almost every device in the physical world can be connected to the internet to collect data, share and merge directly with the digital world.
The whole idea of IoT come into existence in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This is the time the whole idea of adding sensors and intelligence to basic objects was discussed. However, at this point in time, this was very minimal and there was little assistance.
One thing that I have to agree on is that IoT is big today and is becoming bigger over time. According to the available statistics, more than 8.4 billion IoT devices were in use in 2017 and there is a prediction of about 20.4 billion IoT devices to be in use in by 2020. A significant number of these devices are found in North America, China and Western Europe.
Ways IoT will impact the Supply chain
If you are keen in the market, you will notice that most of the retailers are looking to combine their physical stores with their online presence. In this move, the ability to collect and make visible data at different points in the supply chain is very vital. This is likely to improve customer satisfaction and at the same time optimize supply chain responsiveness.
Today, it is very easy to get some information including the temperatures on the trucks, the size, weight and the style variations of the goods being transported. IoT is also making a huge milestone in the market by making it easy to monitor vehicles remotely and be able to respond to any issue within minutes with GPS.
In some large deports, there are several sensors that can be used to pinpoint each staff in the field. They can as well monitor their work behavior and report. Internet of Things can as well make it very simple to detect whenever there are some threats to your field staff in large deports. IoT can as well make it easier for the management to calculate the delivery time and at the same time look for a shorter route that will make them deliver fast enough. Here are some other ways that IoT can help supply chain management.
The reality of the matter is that there are a couple of geographically dispersed players that are involved which can in one way or the other increase uncertainty within supply chain management. Reducing this risk and uncertainty in supply chain management has always presented a big challenge. If there’s no good way of countering the risks and uncertainties that are available along the way, it may affect directly order fulfillment and deliveries. With all these things that are very difficult to detect and control, IoT can come in to simplify the issue. Businesses now are looking for sensor-enabled IoT device solutions such as GPS tracking devices to locate the vehicle, observe the driver’s behavior and at the same time get maintenance alerts.
Managing a business and at the same time ensuring that every aspect of your business is closely monitored needs some sophisticated technologies. What this means is that with all the technological needs of supply chain management, it is very important to deploy end-to-end IoT solutions which includes devices, internet infrastructure, applications, security solutions and integration services. Additionally, different sensor technologies offer different solutions and different constraints and hence IoT can solve some of the technological constraints that most supply chain managers are encountering. They can work closely to increase security and at the same time prevent the saved information from leaking.
Managing a large fleet can be very tiring and daunting especially when you are dealing with world-wide deliveries. However, with IoT including CB radios and cell phones and eventually the GPS tracking systems, it has been made very easy and simple to track fleet and manage them the right way. IoT facilitates the recording of every aspect of your fleet from the time the vehicles gets out of your site until the packages are delivered. They also record each and every transaction across multiple copies of the distributed ledger. What this means is that the management knows where all their vehicles and staff are at each given points.
Reduce cost of operation
IoT can be particularly important in reducing the cost of operations. With the advancement in technology, it is very easy today to notice whenever the vehicles are over speeded, when there’s any threat with the vehicle, staff or the package being delivered. Most of the IoT devices such as SoS sensors and GPS tracking systems makes it very easy for the management to get maintenance alerts and at the same time notice when the vehicle is idling excessively. They can also report cases of fuel theft and other malicious activities that may impact directly to the company’s cost of operation.