IoT in the Supply Chain: Anticipating the Demands of the Future

How are RFID and the Internet of Things bringing the supply chain concept into the future?
By Pratik Dholakiya

Route Optimization
By using real-time data from IoT devices in the field, many manufacturing businesses are able to optimize shipping routes with increased efficiency. Weather data services provide real-time information about possible road closures or delays. The technology can also determine demand for weather-specific materials at various locations and when they are needed.

Using connected devices for fleet management significantly reduces the amount of time required to get orders from a warehouse to their destination. UPS uses its ORION system to optimize its trucks routes based on traffic pattern information collected by IoT devices. Doing so has saved the company 10 million gallons of fuel in a single year, and about $400 million dollars in total.

Ensure Product Quality
When it comes to perishable items, such as food, medicine or chemicals, it's necessary to maintain proper temperature control en route. In fact, nearly half of all U.S. produce is lost due to quality issues related to temperature control. Using IoT devices to regulate temperatures in shipping containers is critical for reducing product loss. Identiv announced its newest sensor system in January 2017, which allows managers to control temperature right from their smartphones via connected tags and cloud services.

In another great example of quality control, AT&T now offers shipping containers and trailer tracking to ensure the proper handling of shipments, as its devices measure everything from motion and shock to humidity and pressure.

Predict and Prevent Problems
New breakthroughs allow IoT devices to tell the future, at least when it comes to mechanical issues. Just like doctors use stethoscopes and ultrasound machines to diagnose problems, these connected devices use sound and vibration measurements to pinpoint areas of weakness. Using vibration sensors and ultrasonic waves, the Auguscope device sends this information to an algorithm system that actually predicts possible failures.

Having these detailed insights can potentially save millions of dollars when it comes to equipment, while ensuring a safer work environment at the same time.

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