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  July 28th, 2016 | Written by

How IoT Technologies Impact Supply Chains

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  • The number of internet-connected devices will grow thirtyfold by 2020, changing how supply chains manage information.
  • IoT technology will provide greater knowledge of the supply chain, allowing suppliers to minimize their losses.
  • IoT will provide data on supply chain issues in real time, enabling players to find solutions.

A great deal of the hype surrounding the Internet of Things has focused on consumer devices, whether wearables like the Fitbit or home electronics systems like Nest.

But from a manufacturing and trade perspective, there are numerous ways that the IoT can be even more useful.

The Internet of Things is bound to have a massive impact on business supply chains. According to Gartner, the number of internet-connected devices will grow thirtyfold by 2020, which will change how supply chain leaders manage information. Here are a few ways that this will work.

There will be greater in-transit visibility

One of the biggest challenges for supply chain leaders is dealing with so many different moving parts. There’s the end destination, the supply warehouse, and all of the places that a product moves in between. With the use of IoT technologies, tracking information can be better monitored while an object is in transit. Data can be gathered from cloud-based GPS as well as radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, more accurately determining where an object is. More crucially, data can be extracted to determine what state the object is in. Temperature and condition can be monitored in-transit. RFID chips can monitor data and transmit this to the cloud for real-time updates.

Losses can be minimized

With greater knowledge of the supply chain gleaned from this technology, suppliers can minimize their losses. If there are any issues with products, they’ll know immediately rather than at the end of the line, which gives more time to find solutions.

Fuel costs can be cut significantly, because IoT technology allows you to monitor traffic conditions and adjust routes accordingly. It’s estimated that one-third of food perishes while in transit each year. By being able to better monitor temperature while the produce is in transit, this spoilage can be avoided as well.

Data can be better managed in real-time

With embedded sensors in products, manufacturers can enjoy new insights into consumer behavior. This in turn can lead to better products and services to suit customers’ needs. Data is transmitted in real-time with sensors, so there is no lag in adjustments. Fleets can be made more efficient by reducing deadhead miles.

Inventory will be more accurately managed

In addition to monitoring data while a product is in transit, IoT technologies allow supply chain leaders to better optimize the warehouse environment. Warehouse space can be better optimized according to which products are shifting faster, and it’s easier to plan production when you have real-time data at your fingertips. More efficient management benefits everyone in the supply chain. Inventory can be better managed to avoid running out of stock, which could frustrate end users.

New services can be developed for clients

Finally, the IoT from Nokia Networks and other providers will enable supply chain professionals to develop new services. Data can be collected from all ends of the supply chain, presenting new opportunities to create solutions for customers.

These are just a few ways that the supply chain is due to evolve over the next decade, as the Internet of Things becomes ubiquitous.

Kathleen McMaster is a freelance writer. She has a degree in telecommunication engineering from Staffordshire University. She eagerly follows all the latest news pertaining to data science and has blogged for numerous online publications.