In 2017, logistics will continue getting a boost from technological advances and the Internet of Things (IoT), along with a combination of cloud services, analytics, among others, are changing the whole landscape as we know it. Logistics continues to rely on third-party logistics, where products are delivered by outsourced companies that can take care of either one service within the logistics operation or the complete supply chain. A third-party service can be anything from transportation to a warehouse. With the IoT, this whole scheme may be changed from different perspectives like logistics, inventory, manufacturing and many other aspects. Logistics has evolved throughout the years, which you can even read more about it on the David Kiger blog, and IoT just seems to be the next step in the years to come.
Managing fleets to deliver on time
Companies have long used a different variety of vehicles to support the supply chain management process, but today with the help of GPS and other tracking technologies being able to manage large fleets becomes a lot easier. These technologies help companies to keep track of their vehicles, ensure delivery times and generate connected fleet management solutions. These solutions are not only used for logistic purposes, but also in Energy, government or military, and constructions and mining. In logistics, there can be many issues with communicating with vehicles, especially in remote places, but for these remote operations, there are now technological solutions that allow reliable communication, regardless of the driver’s location. Satellite monitoring has truly been a big success and has improved transportation to remote locations. By tracking the location and status of vehicles while they are on route can also be important to prepare in advance for future routes, understanding when vehicles will become available, and make routes a lot more efficient, by reducing side trips that will not be necessary when this information is known in advanced. Companies use different software products like Fleet Maintenance Pro by Innovative Maintenance Systems, or MyRouteOnline. Most companies using fleet management solutions are in consumer transportation, field service vehicles or physical asset movement and delivery.
Inventory and warehouse management
Radio Frequency Identification, better known as RFID, has been one of the biggest technological advances in inventory and warehouse management. There are active and passive RFID tags that have been developed to enhance productivity. The passive RFID system has tags that don’t have an internal power source. They are powered by electromagnetic energy which is transmitted by the RFID reader. These are more economical and are used not only in supply chain management but in file tracking, access control or smart labels. The active RFID tags use a battery-powered system that broadcast a continuous feed with a signal that allows companies to track real-time where something is located, even in high-speed environments. Even though they are more expensive, some companies are willing to pay the difference due to its longer range.
There is also a Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs), which will not only allow you to track items inside of a warehouse but while they are on route. Along with satellite trackers, this technology allows companies to follow the process of where the items are, independent of cellular coverage. There are other technologies such as NFC, or near-field communication, and Bluetooth. All of this technology is truly changing the way that companies approach how they manage their inventory and their warehousing, always trying to improve efficiency, quality and delivery times.
Supply Chain Management
The ability to make better decisions during the process has given manufacturing companies the power to improve their sales and services. Tracking assets from beginning to end is allowing companies to make better decisions in real time, which can save them a lot of money and inconveniences. Asset tracking has been around for awhile now, ever since barcodes and other systems were used to keep track of inventory. These systems are now out of date and are being quickly replaced by many of the different technological advances mentioned in this article. Everything from LPWANs to GPS, or satellite or even RFID. This upgrade is offering not only real-time solutions to tracking the whole system, but also allowing to track vital information that could not be collected before. This usable data can interact with other IoT technologies allowing companies to get more insight than ever before in their companies supply chain.
In 2017, there’s no doubt that technology will continue to make its way into logistics processes in many different industries, and as IoT becomes a more integrated part of our lives. The combination of all of these technologies will allow companies to go even further in their delivery ventures and offer faster delivery times, higher quality of products upon arrival and cost effective solutions. Data-driven decisions will go hand-in-hand with these advances, and only time will tell what will be next for logistics and the IoT.