In any industry, incorporation of the latest technologies is beneficial including logistics and supply chain management. The internet has become a major means for improving quality of service for logistics companies already. It helps both the companies and customers to override several hurdles associated with a cargo shipment and delivery. However, it is possible to further enhance performance and efficiency of logistics companies by deploying latest and emerging technologies like IoT. Internet of things as it is referred is just not limited to using smart appliances at home.
How IoT Can Be Utilized By Logistics Service Providers
As the logistics service providers start deploying IoT in their operations, the benefits can be reaped by all involved parties.
8 plausible ways in which companies belonging to logistics management can benefit from IoT.
- Accurate tracking of vehicles– Logistics and cargo shipment entities have to deal with a number of fleet comprising of trucks and other commercial vehicles. Based on type of shipment, the same cargo may need to undergo flight, on road and ship based transport. When advanced GPS sensors and tracking devices are used in such cargo vehicles, the logistics companies can track their movements at each moment. They can get information on whether the vehicles are adhering to the recommended route or not. This in turn helps them better to answer client queries regarding delay in delivering cargo, no matter where it is. If a vehicle of the fleet gets stuck on a route, its driver can alert others on the same route using IoT services as well.
- Delay elimination– The biggest customer grudge any logistics and courier company is weary of is delay in product delivery. Cargo can get delayed by a number of reasons and delay can lead to many other issues apart from an irate customer! Delay in transit can often lead to perishable products getting damaged which can have further implications. It can lead to negative publicity of the company. Transit delays caused by factors like inclement weather and traffic woes can largely be evaded by using IoT in the apt way. When both the major cargo hub and recipient centers are connected by IoT enabled devices, real time sharing of weather information and traffic details becomes easier. The vehicles can change usual routes if the news of a traffic snarl is available.
- Cost reduction– Using IoT in logistics and transport also results in cost cutting for the companies involved. First of all, the data obtained on traffic situation can help cargo carrying vehicles avoid traffic snarl affected routes. This will help in fuel cost reduction to an extent. When logistics service providers do not end up with product perished in transit owing to delay caused by such factors, the compensation related cost can also be reduced largely.
- Cargo quality damage reduction– Sometimes, cargo can get damaged in transit owing to a number of factors. Perishable cargo, including vegetable and food grains may get damaged owing to unexpected rise in temperature, humidity or failure of temperature controlled cargo containers, etc. With IoT enabled cargo vehicles, maintaining surveillance over cargo container interior becomes easier. The company can be informed at all stages about the deterioration of cargo and preventive measures can be adopted faster.
- Monitoring inventory– Despite implementation of technology in warehouses, logistics and courier companies depends a lot on manpower and human observation till date to stay updated on inventory stock. With 24×7 digital and accurate surveillance made possible by the usage of RFID and CCTV cameras connected by IoT enable devices, inventory management becomes improved. Companies can be updated at all times on position of inventory at warehouses. This helps them meet fluctuating customer demands in a more efficient way. Before a product gets exhausted in warehouse, the company can gather additional stocks and keep equilibrium between customer demand and supply.
- Monitoring the phases in transport– Sometimes, the logistics service providers need to send cargo through their various centers before it can reach the customer address. At any of these centers delay can happen. This happens when the process is operated mostly manually. Human errors and unforeseen situations cannot be predicted! However, with cargo processing controlled by machines that are monitored by advanced sensors such errors are largely minimized.
- Reduction in equipment errors– Sometimes, machinery errors in large and small equipments at various stages of cargo shipment can take place and that can make logistics companies worried. For example, equipments like conveyor belts at airports, yard tractors and cranes at warehouses may develop snags and that can lead to cargo mishandling. When IoT enabled sensors are used to monitor cargo handling at such areas, risk of cargo mishandling is largely reduced. When an error occurs, the company is immediately alerted and remedial measures can be taken.
- Delivery hassles reduction– With the deployment of IoT in logistics operations, delivery related hassles can become a thing of the past. Instead of relying on documents for customer verification, digital IDs supported by IoT can be used. In the near future, features like NFC will make inroads into all mobile devices. Using such advanced digital features, making payments will become smoother for customers too.
While depleting IoT can be beneficial for all logistics entities – there are issues that need to be implemented and addressed. Apart from infrastructure development, acceptance of same standards and technologies across states and countries are required before IoT can be implemented at many levels.