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4 Ways the IoT Helps Optimize Cold Chain Logistics

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4 Ways the IoT Helps Optimize Cold Chain Logistics

Industry 4.0 technology can help to make cold chain logistics much easier to manage. Internet of things (IoT) devices are already used in a wide range of industries to gather real-time information on business processes.

In the cold chain, IoT technology can help businesses track important data on shipments — potentially allowing them to prevent temperature excursions and provide better data to stakeholders.

Here’s how businesses are already using IoT to optimize their cold chain logistics.

1. Temperature Monitoring

A key feature of IoT devices is their ability to monitor the temperatures that cold chain shipments are exposed to.

By attaching an IoT temperature monitor to the outside of a package or pallet, sensors can be used in a variety of transportation modes — including trucks, rail freight or air cargo — to continuously track the temperature of food items, important pharmaceuticals and other items that need cold chain logistics.

These sensors will gather and report this data in real-time. Because IoT sensors can automatically store data on the cloud, all relevant stakeholders can have access to the temperature data that they collect.

In the event that an IoT sensor detects a temperature excursion, an alert system can automatically notify managers, drivers, administrative staff and other workers — allowing them to take action to prevent spoilage.

Stored data can also be used to improve processes, identify bottlenecks and determine fault in the event that an excursion causes spoilage. At any time after a sensor collects temperature data, stakeholders can review captured information and trends — or use analytics software to automatically extract valuable insights from historical temperature data.

IoT temperature tracking devices can also monitor other aspects of a shipment’s journey — for example, a combination vibration, light and temperature sensor can monitor for heat as well as exposure to light, shocks, vibrations and sudden stops.

Many cold chain products don’t just require low temperatures. Many vaccines that need cold chain logistics, for example, may spoil or lose potency if exposed to light. Sudden shocks can also risk damage to vaccine containers and packing materials.

IoT devices that monitor for temperature can also help to monitor for these potential threats.

2. GPS and RFID Shipment Tracking

IoT devices are also excellent at tracking the current location of a shipment or individual product. By using technology like GPS or RFID, it’s possible for an IoT device to gather information on a shipment’s movement.

With GPS, this information will be in real-time. With RFID, the system will depend on RFID readers installed at important locations that continuously scan for RFID tags. These systems will provide instant updates whenever an RFID tagged shipment arrives at a warehouse, fulfillment center, retail location or delivery destination.

These systems can automatically alert stakeholders when an item is on the move, allowing them to track the position of all their shipments, 24/7. The same IoT device can be used to monitor both temperature and location.

The same technology can also help businesses and logistics providers offer better delivery estimates to their clients. With real-time tracking, it’s much easier to accurately forecast when an item will arrive at a destination.

3. Automated Reporting and Cloud Data Storage

Because IoT devices are connected to the internet and can collect data continuously, they can also be used for automatic report-generation and cloud data backups.

For example, data from an IoT device can be automatically delivered to relevant stakeholders or stored for monthly documentation of important information.

In addition to delivering data to the cloud, an IoT device can send information to logistics management platforms, where the information can be analyzed by stakeholders with the help of dashboards and other data visualization tools.

The device can also stream information to AI-powered analytic tools, allowing businesses to use the IoT data to power delivery time or temperature excursion prediction algorithms.

These algorithms can help businesses see a crisis coming based on patterns in IoT data, potentially long before the issue would be obvious to a manager or analyst following the data on their own.

4. Equipment Health Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance

In addition to monitoring shipments directly, IoT devices are also an excellent tool for tracking the performance and health of cold chain equipment — including delivery vehicles, warehouse machinery and even HVAC systems.

Existing IoT performance monitoring systems can track a wide variety of performance and environmental variables. Information from these systems can help businesses track machine performance and health.

For example, an IoT fleet may capture information on a machine’s timing, vibration, temperature and lubrication. If one of these variables leaves its safe operating range, the system can automatically notify site technicians.

IoT devices may also measure local temperature, humidity and CO2 levels, allowing managers of a warehouse or fulfillment center to know if local environmental conditions may be negatively impacting the performance of a site machine.

Equipment monitoring is already a popular application of IoT devices in many industries, meaning that cold chain logistics professionals wanting to adopt the technology have access to a large and growing market of IoT equipment monitoring solutions.

Experts predict that the market is on track to grow quickly over the next few years, meaning that logistics companies will have access to even more options in the near future.

With enough data, businesses can also use IoT devices to lay the foundation for a predictive maintenance system. These are systems that use AI and IoT machine performance data to predict a machine’s maintenance needs.

By analyzing information collected from IoT devices, it’s possible to predict when a machine will need maintenance or repairs.

These systems can also alert managers when they predict that machine failure is imminent — allowing for an emergency shutdown that can help to prevent significant damage to a machine that may result in more expensive repairs and greater downtime.

How IoT Devices May Help to Transform the Cold Chain

With new IoT devices, cold chain logistics providers may be able to streamline their operations. A fleet of IoT devices can provide crucial information on both shipments and the equipment used to move them.

Cold chain professionals are already using IoT devices to prevent spoilage and more effectively monitor shipments as they move from location to location.

IoT devices can also lay the foundation for predictive analytics algorithms that can accurately predict delivery times or machine maintenance needs


Emily Newton is an industrial journalist. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she regularly covers how technology is changing the industry


10 Integrations Every Manufacturer Needs With Their ERP

As manufacturing markets grow more competitive, the need to operate lean and eliminate inefficiencies has become more important than ever. In the past having a quality ERP system was enough to get the job done.

Today the best ERP systems incorporate all the new Internet
of Things (IoT) technologies currently being developed.
They integrate with these technologies to enable your business to cut costs, work more efficiently, and simplify your entire manufacturing process in ways that were previously only dreams. The ability to integrate with third-party IoT technologies has already become one of the most important criteria for selecting an ERP system – and a powerful competitive advantage.

Our list of the 10 integrations every manufacturer needs with
their ERP includes some that are new and some that have been around a while. If you don’t acquire them soon, expect to be left behind – by your customers and your industry.

Nesting Interface

Operating lean requires reducing setup time and labor as well as material waste. Nesting software handles all three by efficiently arranging part shapes on sheets or plates of stock material to produce the least amount of waste. It eliminates the time required to manually plan which parts to cut on a piece of metal, plastic, wood, etc. and reduces purchasing costs by minimizing unusable leftover materials.

A nesting interface enables your ERP system to share information with the nesting software, including work orders, inventory information, workcenter details, and other data. The nesting software uses this data to optimize material usage and sends cutlist details, material drops, scrap, and estimates for routing and work orders back to the ERP system.


Whether they’re using barcodes, badges, or biometric scanners, employees typically have multiple processes for entering the building, unlocking doors, and logging into your ERP system. Radio frequency identification (RFID) lets you consolidate all access procedures into your ERP system to eliminate multiple badges, barcoded employee lists, and human error.

In the process, RFID provides faster and more efficient log-ins, more accurate data, lower technology costs, and stronger security of your building and your data. It also facilitates more accurate payroll processing and tracking of job costs. As more manufacturers embrace this technology, RFID can also be used to trace inventory, improve scheduling by tracking idle equipment, locate lost or misplaced tools and equipment, monitor waste and shrinkage, and more. Some manufacturers are even using this technology to track material moving from an outside storehouse into the warehouse and
through production on the shop floor.


In the manufacturing world, small process improvements performed hundreds of times a day can add up to big savings. Electronic data interchange (EDI) software saves time and money (for you and your customers) by facilitating the computer-to-computer exchange of business data across different platforms. This data can include purchase orders, invoices, inventory levels, shipping notices, and much more.

Using EDI to seamlessly integrate with your customers’ business systems speeds up the order entry process by allowing them to send order data electronically. No phone calls. No faxes. No manual data entry. Just fast, accurate electronic data transmission that eliminates the need for a second entry on the other side of every transaction. The error-free transmission also eliminates the need for time-consuming reconciliations. You can view a list of top EDI
solutions Global Shop Solutions integrates with.


When it comes to saving time and simplifying processes, eCommerce is like EDI on steroids. Imagine if customers could place an order on your website, and your ERP system would automatically launch the sales and work order processes to get the job rolling. Then it would also automatically send an invoice or process payment with a credit card. How much time and effort would that remove from your order entry process?

All it requires is three basic elements:

• A SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) software program so that your website can communicate with your ERP system

• An experienced website vendor to build your eCommerce portal

• An ERP vendor willing to support the integration between their product and the eCommerce platform Global Shop Solutions recently assisted one of our correctional institution customers in building an eCommerce website. Read the case study here. Or better yet, visit their website.

CAD Interface

Do your engineers still spend hours every week writing lengthy BOMs and comparing them against the BOMs in your ERP system?
A CAD Interface solution can eliminate this wasteful manual
entry by seamlessly importing the BOM into your ERP system. Your engineers can then use the imported BOM to ensure sufficient materials are on hand to complete the job on time and on budget. With a CAD interface you can:

• Reduce engineering time and costs
• Eliminate manual data entry to update BOMs,
and the human error that goes along with it
• Ensure everyone on the shop floor has the latest
document rev
• Create jobs faster

It used to take one of our packing industry customers four man days to create jobs. Since implementing a CAD Interface solution, it now requires only a couple of clicks to build 100+ routers in a few seconds. Global Shop Solutions offers CAD Interface solutions with SolidWorks®, Solid Edge™, Autodesk Inventor®, and other leading design programs.

Tool Cribs and Vending Machines

To improve the accuracy of tooling costs, more manufacturers are employing tool vending machines.

Workers scan their badge and job number into the machine and press a button for the tool they need. The vending machine dispenses the tool and automatically applies the cost of the tool to the job, thereby increasing accuracy for the overall job costing process.

The key with this integration is seamlessly transporting the costing data to your ERP system. Global Shop Solutions recently wrote a program for one of our aviation design and build customers which passes tool usage and tooling requirements to Global Shop Solutions ERP software.

Employee Efficiency

You can’t afford to have employees standing around wondering what to do next. Integrating Internet-capable TV screens and displays with your ERP system can significantly reduce employee red time.

These screens, strategically placed around the shop floor, can display a variety of real-time data pulled from your ERP system. This includes the status of work orders in progress, work orders scheduled to begin, and hot jobs that need immediate attention.

In addition to keeping employees on the job, this integration eliminates the need for reams of paper work orders and shop floor schedules. It also prevents confusion on the shop floor because employees can always see what needs to be worked on and when – without having to leave their machines or workcenters.

Global Shop Solutions offers this capability via TrueView™. Within 30 days of implementing this integration, one of our precision metal fabricator customers, generated productivity improvements of 20% to 25%, while a manufacturer of washing machines and drying cabinets uses this integration to properly sequence upcoming jobs at each workcenter.

Another example comes from a wood product and component manufacturer. Despite averaging nearly 500 hours a month of indirect time, company management thought they were at full capacity – until they placed 18 TV screens connected to TrueView around their shop floor. TrueView was used to display the names of employees not on a job for more than four minutes and notify their supervisors. Indirect time plummeted to 50 hours per month, and the company now has the capacity to schedule more jobs, increase margins, and pay their employees more.


Accounting & payroll are complex, time-consuming processes. Managing all the data in one system makes the entire process quicker and easier while reducing administrative costs. Integrating your payroll system into your general ledger and shop floor data allows you to:

• Eliminate redundant data entry
• Easily distribute payroll accounting by department
• Simplify tax reporting
• Manage your employees better than ever
• Complete end-of-month closing in less time

Global Shop Solutions seamlessly integrates with ADP®, ABRA, Paychex® and other leading payroll solutions.


Making efficient use of sales tax data has also taken a big step forward by integrating with ERP software.

Manufacturers can now link sales tax data directly from their ERP software to their state sales and property tax software programs. They can also simplify other tax-related tasks, such as R&D tax credit tracking. For example, one our customers uses this integration to set up tasks on their work orders. This allows the Project Manager to instantly review the percentage of work on a job that can be attributed to R&D for tax credit purposes.

Business Services

Tracking employee expenses – meals, gas, tools, etc. – on installations, repairs and other service calls has long been a thorn in the side of financial personnel. Even with today’s sophisticated software programs, expenses can still get lost. Or they don’t get applied to the job until the employee returns to the office. Either way, it interferes with your ability to track job costs in real time.

Now you can enjoy cost, compliance, and visibility by integrating expense-reporting software with your ERP system. Global Shop Solutions easily integrates (using one of our free, downloadable ARC programs) directly with Concur and other popular expense-tracking programs. Using a smartphone app, your field service teams can tie expenses directly into a work order in Global Shop Solutions ERP software the minute they happen. Job costing has never been so simple or timely.


As IoT transforms the manufacturing industry at breakneck speed, success increasingly depends on your ability to connect with real time data from anywhere at any time. As a global leader in ERP solutions, we believe it is our responsibility to help you do that. If you’re not taking advantage of the ERP integrations outlined in this whitepaper, call Global Shop Solutions today at 800-364-5958. You’ll be amazed at how a few simple integrations can exponentially increase the power, functionality, and return on investment of your ERP software.


Daniel Carranco is the Director for the Continuous Improvement Department for Global Shop Solutions. He leads a department comprised of teams that deal with existing customer projects including consulting and custom development. A Global Shop Solutions team member for more than a decade, Carranco holds a master’s degree in international business, and is a frequent speaker to manufacturing executives and industry groups on maximizing ROI with ERP software.

To learn more about the 10 Integrations Every Manufacturer Needs With Their ERP, call 1.800.364.5958 or visit