KEEP AN EYE ON IoT: THE FUTURE IS NOW WHEN IT COMES TO TECH’S ROLE IN SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
The Internet of Things is a revolutionary technology of today. If implemented optimally, it can bring about immense benefits in different industries including transportation, retail, healthcare, finance and supply-chain management. For processes like forecasting, management and oversight applications, IoT can assist fleet managers in improving the operational efficiency of distribution along with adding transparency to the decision-making process.
IoT can play a vital role in improving supply chain management, with its main applications in tracking and monitoring processes. Additionally, IoT can be applied to other processes.
TRACKING LOCATION IN REAL-TIME
The IoT can help provide real-time data of a product’s location and its transportation environment. It can be tracked at all times and you can get real-time alerts if anything goes wrong during transportation and can monitor the delivery of raw materials and ready goods.
With environmental sensors, shipments can now be tracked for internal conditions such as the inside temperature of the vehicle, humidity, pressure and other factors that can potentially adversely affect the product.
C.H. Robinson ties its recognition as a challenger in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Real-Time Transportation Visibility Platforms to the Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based global logistics company’s solutions such as Navisphere Vision. Delivered by C.H. Robinson’s TMC division, Navisphere Vision’s IoT device integrations allow shippers to monitor and immediately mitigate issues when freight is impacted by shock, tilt, humidity, light, temperature or pressure.
Recognition is great, but to expand on C.H. Robinson’s newer capabilities, the company has announced it will invest $1 billion in technology over the next five years or double its previous investment.
“Several major events over the past year have emphasized the vital importance of supply chains, but also highlighted their fragility in some cases,” explains Jordan Kass, TMC president. “The companies who will excel in the years to come will be those with real-time visibility into their supply chains. The ability to consume, combine and analyze data from the growing number of integrations and data points will be essential for building a resilient, competitive and profitable supply chain.”
24/7 20-20 VISION
IoT devices help managers in making decisions about product arrivals and increasing delivery forecast precision. Not only does it help predict final delivery date, but it also assists in mitigating risks before they can occur.
With real-time location trackers, warehouse employees can track the exact aisle for specific parcels. When paired up with artificial intelligence, it also allows for automated vehicles to retrieve a particular package without any human supervision. And tools such as smart glasses assist the warehouse workers and ensure that they spend lesser time in completing their task. Furthermore, IoT gathers data which allows for continual improvement and increased efficiency as the process continues.
“Faced with the acceleration of e-commerce and new consumer demands, the automatization of logistics warehouses is an essential response to handle growing flows in an ever-shorter timeframe,” says Philippe de Carné, executive vice president, Business Development, Innovation & Business Excellence at global supply chain operator GEODIS, which has about 50 automated sites worldwide.
“The arrival of increasingly autonomous intelligent robots and a constant search for competitiveness are paving the way for increased automatization,” notes Antoine Pretin, vice president of the GEODIS Engineering Group. “Such solutions provide great leverage to improve performance and assist in order preparation in e-commerce warehouses, reducing repetitive tasks, but also gaining quality and reactivity.”
MORE BENEFITS IN SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
IoT devices help plan and change transportation routes by considering any accidents or delay-causing occurrences along the way. Thus, it allows for optimal path while developing contingency planning and getting to the cause of delays.
In terms of increasing operational efficiency and reducing operating costs, IoT SCM platforms exponentially increase the speed of supply chain efficiency. The IoT helps reduce feedback cycle, allows quick decision-making, mitigates risks and improves goods-locating efficiency in the warehouse.
Connected platforms are easily accessible and faster than on-premise systems. With a cloud-based IoT system in place, supply chain managers can ensure that all concerned stakeholders can access important information. Furthermore, a connected IoT service can give insights for particular scenarios, thus helping the workers throughout the supply-chain process.
IoT also gives a detailed insight to supply chain managers on goods turnover. This assists the managers and retailers estimate how many units of each product they need for shelving. It also increases accuracy by avoiding human error and helping in the identification of packages, while also avoiding financial overheads that are otherwise incurred in the form of time and money.
Bethesda, Maryland-based aerospace and defense contractor Lockheed Martin recently signed an agreement with SyncFab, a Silicon Valley distributed manufacturing platform, to streamline supplier capabilities across Switzerland. How? SyncFab will provide Lockheed Martin with direct access to its parts procurement and secure supply chain platform that connects Original Equipment Manufacturers to members of Swissmem, which represents Switzerland’s mechanical and electrical engineering industries.
“SyncFab is honored and privileged to work with Lockheed Martin in our mission to expand access and digitally transform Swiss Industrial Supply Chains in partnership with Swissmem,” said SyncFab founder and CEO Jeremy Goodwin, who bills his company’s platform as the first Supply Chain Blockchain solution for parts suppliers and buyers.
The platform works as a “matchmaker” between OEMs and SMEs, enabling SMEs to compete for long-term supply chain opportunities with large international companies. This platform has already helped mechanical engineering and electronics firms in the U.S. provide products and services to large OEMs, including electronics, aerospace, automobile, medical technology, and renewable energy.
Other top defense suppliers such as Thales, RUAG and Mercury have joined the SyncFab platform consortium as has the Cleveland, Ohio-based National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) and its more than 1,400 SME supplier members.
IoT also allows for sorting data and determining patterns to indicate potential reasons for improving or hindering the profitability of the goods. It helps supply chain managers and retailers segment the goods according to the target audience. Thus, businesses can better understand which product is preferred by which particular segment of customers.
Perhaps the one to put it best about IoT’s growing and important role in supply-chain management is Bill Berutti. He’s the CEO of Troy, Michigan-based Plex Systems, whose cloud-based Smart Manufacturing Platform assists with manufacturing execution, ERP, quality management, supply chain planning and management, tracking, Industrial IoT and analytics.
“Smart manufacturing isn’t something that will happen years down the road,” Berutti says. “It’s real, it’s imperative and it’s happening now.”
A Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) specializing in network and IoT security, David Smith has written for Cybersecurity.att.com, Staysafeonline.org and Eccouncil.org. Learn more at thesmartcardinstitute.com.
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