With information technology growing stronger with each passing day, it has become an enabler for various business functions and more so for the supply chain and logistics. The ability to integrate processes, suppliers, functions- both internal and external has led to the development of a new term, “Internet of Things” (IoT). IoT is defined by www.whatsit.com as a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. It is a maze that is all-encompassing and assimilates information from all the systems and processes. Internet connectivity and IP address form the backbone of this technology.
According to IDC, there are already nearly 200 billion computerized devices, with 20 billion of them wired and communicating via the Internet, and more than 50 billion sensors that track, monitor, or feed data to those connected things. This number is likely to increase in the coming years with technological advancement in technology.
Majority of IoT application ost deployments in a supply chain lies within the area for identifying, locating, tracking and status of the assets. An IoT and supply chain integration with IOTis anticipated will work into work in the best manner owing to the nature and function of the processes as well as a logical approach. Various use cases have been observed depicting A variety of studies have been conducted to show the benefits of the integration, one such advantage being a supply chain with IoT and these studies have empirical data to prove their claims. An IoT integration informed decision making which ends up saving time as well as resources supply chain enables managers to make better decisions and saves from a laborious and time-consuming activity. For instance,
For e.g.: let’s take an example of Some postal services provider utilizing use IoT enabled post boxes in remote areas, to find out whether or not there is a post in the box for them to collect. In the case of no post, it saves them time and energy.
Researchers and bloggers industry leaders alike, have envisioned a drastic maximum impact of IoT on the global supply chain processes across the globe. IoT is very well poised to take the supply chain revolution to the next level with increased operational efficiency, revenues, and transparency. extending the supply chain tracking will not only be from floor to store and but much beyond. that.
For E.ginstance: Aa pallet on a truck, can transmit messages showing exactly what products, sizes and style variations are included, not to mention the temperature or humidity goods are being transported in. Sensors can even be used to locate the whereabouts of products and staff in large depots and on the road to help calculate the time of arrival. Automated data capture gives real-time visibility of stock and avoids manual counting and human errors.
(Reference: article on www.zetes.com, The Internet of Things (IoT) and its impact on supply chain visibility)
The main question that arises in mind is
How exactly or rather what areas of the supply chain would be impacted by IoT? Simply to put, “all”, but that’s neither a sufficient nor an empirical reply. Let’s enumerate the benefits and impact of IoT on supply chains.
- Accuracy in Tracking — The efficiency of a supply chain is wholly dependent on the asset tracking solutions it deploys. IoT has the potential to accentuate the quality and quantity of the available information. By placing With sensor technologies in the assets, a company can now easily track product track their exact location. In fact, the sensors can also be used to provide status updates get real-time updates and alerts for items that may have been damaged in transit. Armed with this information, made available by IoT asset tracking, businesses will be able to discover the hitherto unknown inefficiencies, and with that be in a better position to even revamp or have an in-depth look at the manufacturing and quality parameters and practices.
- Better Inventory Management- IoT technology allows businesses to monitor inventory with accuracies like never before obtained. IoT sensors can provide far more efficient inventories than humans can manage alone. When important inventory equipped with IoT sensors, managers can now check inventory levels at any time and receive alerts when stock gets low. It lets one track the inventor, including the stock for future manufacturing, at the click of a button. No deadlines missed and happy customers are the result. Moreover, all the data thus obtained can be used to find trends to make manufacturing schedules even more efficient.
- The best-quoted example in today’s day and age when it comes to IoT in inventory management is that of Amazon. Amazon uses Wi-Fi-enabled robots to scan QR codes on products, in order to track and triage.
- Improved Last-Mile Delivery- The last-mile delivery is the most aspect of a product going through the supply chain because it leads the product right to the consumers or ends the user’s doorstep. A lot of studies and researches have gone on to explain how the delivery experience has a profound impact on the chances of repeated orders. With the upward and outward growth of a supply chain, it is imperative that each carrier — right from shipping container to supplier delivery trucks or even delivery vans (in case of retail distributors) be connected. The data garnered from IoT systems are used by manufacturers to get better products to customers’ faster and more efficiently. The captured data is, in fact, used to catch potential issues and make on the spot changes in auto-delivery systems and truck routes, even accounting for weather conditions.
- Transparency in Marketing- In the past, consumers didn’t expect to know the entire history of a product- right from when the raw material was sourced until when it was delivered. With increasing awareness and knowledge, almost every consumer demands to know the journey of the product. IoT technology can be utilized by businesses who are willing to showcase their ethics as well as transparent business practices. This would bring the supply chain transparency to unprecedented levels and also bring about an alignment of the business’ brand value with those of its customers. A transparent supply chain appeals to a socially conscious customer.
- Customer-Vendor Integration — Data obtained from Asset tracking systems or IOT can be analyzed and used to make changes in the production schedules. In fact, it allows for a business to recognize vendor relationships that are costing money. According to IBM, up to 65% of the value of a company’s products or services is derived from its suppliers. In such a scenario, it becomes imperative to be attentive to the way the vendors handle the supplies they send to a business. A high input quality determines a better relationship with the customer and hence a good customer retention rate.
- Predictive Maintenance — The machines incorporating a supply chain are of utmost importance and a breakdown in any one of those, say factory equipment or maybe even a delivery truck would cause a delay, and hence resulting in an inefficient supply chain. With Machine within the IoT ecosystem continuously IoT, sensors installed in these machines provide exchange information which can be gathered and later analyzed for scheduling predictive maintenance activities. and a better interactive preventive maintenance schedule can be made rather than the standard schedule based on different machines of the same kind. Data captured by IoT will help prevent expenses incurred due to downtime of machines.
The one thing that can be said without an iota of doubt is that IoT is here to stay for long and revamp the supply chain processes and create better interactive solutions. With the advancement in technology, and various software’s and integrating solution providers available in the market, IoT will bring about a big change in the way a supply chain functions. IoT has changed, is changing, and will continue to change supply chain processes. With the benefits of IoT integration into existing processes becoming clearer, more businesses and organizations will work towards expanding today’s IoT supply chain capabilities. The future with IoT promises to be a harbinger of more efficient, effective, productive, sustainable, and commonly-used supply chains.