Supply chains are a hot topic in both industrial and commercial spheres right now. With challenges related to supplier relations, rising prices, inventory and labor shortages, and shipping delays on the rise, many companies are struggling to get what they need when they need it; consequently, they are struggling to put their own products on the shelves for consumers. To top it all off, the holiday season is quickly approaching, making reliable supply chains all the more crucial on both levels. Companies need a way to improve their supply chain, and technology provides a compelling answer.

Technology can’t always address the root of our current supply chain issues, but it can help companies make the most out of their supply chain in these trying times. Let’s look at four ways technology improves supply chains just in time for the holiday rush.

Analyzing Real-Time Data

In the past, decision-makers would make supply chain decisions with a gut feeling. Today that would seem ridiculous because data and data analysis has permeated the world. Using data to make supply chain decisions has become the norm. In some ways, it is old news. 

However, many of these decisions are still made using historical data obtained after a process has run its course. Certainly, this data can be helpful, but it can only be analyzed after the fact. This means any operational changes are made in hindsight, which certainly helps improve processes going forward but does very little to address challenges as they arise. Decision-makers need to know what is happening in real-time to keep up with changing demand and evolving challenges. Decision-makers need real-time data.

Analyzing real-time data presents two new challenges. The first is collecting real-time data, and the second is analyzing it. The first challenge is relatively easy to solve. The internet of things (IoT) is becoming more democratized. Affordable smart sensors can track equipment, inventory, and personnel in real-time. The second challenge is analyzing the data. Anyone can buy affordable smart sensors. But securely connecting those sensors to a network can be costly. Many large corporations have tried and failed to create an in-house system that connects to a native IOS. In the end, it benefits most companies to choose an IoT partner specializing in providing affordable smart sensors that securely provide real-time data with a simple user interface. 

Managing Risk with AI

Supply chains are becoming streamlined partly through the automation of delivery, material flow, and inventory level management. Artificial intelligence is a significant contributor to this effort. One of the biggest ways AI is improving supply chains is through risk management. 

Today’s management stacks can flood workers with alerts without assigning any priority. AI can quantify risk, providing a ranking of priority to help workers optimize their time. This quantification gives organizations broad visibility into the most crucial detriments to efficient operations, informing responses and allocation of time and other resources. 

As markets evolve into the new century, AI will help create and manage multi-layered, dynamic supply chains, serving highly virtualized and cloud-based operational models. Much of this will have to be automated to accommodate the speed of industrial-level operations. The speed will increasingly come from advanced intelligence systems that communicate with perhaps intermittent human oversight.


Increase Your ROI by Investing in AirFinder Everywhere

  • Loss Prevention. Reduce the amount of loss that occurs during the supply chain process
  • Location Coverage. AirFinder Everywhere uses a combination of GPS, Cellular, and WiFi to determine location everywhere
  • Security Alerts. Know when a delay in shipment has occurred so the problem can be addressed immediately.


Furthering Supply Chain Sustainability

Companies of all sorts are becoming increasingly mindful of environmental concerns, leading to the formulation of sustainability goals and strategies. Supply chains are not often thought of as affected by sustainability efforts, but in reality, they are a crucial consideration, particularly in the goal to eliminate various kinds of waste.

There are many sources of waste that trace back to the supply chain, particularly through perishable products going bad, products being damaged or misplaced, use of disposable pallets and containers, and misplacement of reusable pallets and containers. Many of these issues can be solved with the visibility provided by asset tracking, but as it provides a larger benefit and deserves its own section, we will for now hone in on a specific type of visibility that prevents loss of perishables.

Cold chain monitoring is a type of asset tracking and monitoring that provides temperature data for perishable products like food or pharmaceuticals. It’s easy for temperature-sensitive products to go bad while in-transit; monitoring allows for proper measures to be applied in order to ensure these products arrive at their destination in perfect quality. Otherwise, they would need to be disposed of, wasting not only that product, but requiring the use of more resources to replace what was lost.

Retaining Visibility Along the Entire Supply Chain Cycle

Within the supply chain, it is important to retain visibility throughout the entire supply chain cycle. Companies want to know the location of their products not only when they’re in the facility, but also when they leave the facility and begin traveling toward their final destination. As previously indicated, many businesses find it beneficial to retain visibility of pallets, crates, bins, and other mass transportation items in order to reclaim and reuse them to save money on replacements and further their sustainability efforts. 

There are two basic categories of real-time asset tracking. There’s indoor  asset tracking, and there’s outdoor asset tracking, with not a lot of middle ground or overlap. Typically, indoor IoT sensors connect and communicate using Bluetooth or Ultra-Wideband technologies. However, these technologies require significant infrastructure and thus cannot be utilized as effectively while in transit or when otherwise separated from that infrastructure by great distance. In contrast, outdoor IoT sensors typically use GPS or Cellular as their base technologies. As might be expected, these technologies – both of which are designed for great distances and larger scales – do not work very well indoors. 

Visibility is where AirFinder Everywhere excels. The battery life on these tags can last for years, and they have the flexibility to use Cellular, GPS, Wi-Fi sniffing, and Bluetooth LE for communication, seamlessly integrating indoor and outdoor tracking for improved visibility through every stage of the supply chain, not just at the facility or on the road.

Why Link Labs?

Link Labs offers many IoT solutions for your business and the challenges its supply chain faces. We provide a one-stop solution that helps your company manage its assets at an affordable rate. Interested in learning more about Link Labs and its products? Book a demo with us today.

 Iot technology is transforming the efficiency of supply chains

Patrick Li

Written by Patrick Li

Patrick Li is the Senior Vice President of Engineering at Link Labs. Patrick is responsible for leading all aspects of Link Lab’s product development, bringing 25 years of experience in wireless infrastructure development with Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel Networks, and Aruba Networks working in both the U.S. and China. He holds an S.B. and S.M. in Electrical Engineering from M.I.T, and has led R&D teams responsible for developing hardware and software for CDMA, GSM, UMTS, LTE, and Wifi infrastructure solutions. Patrick’s wireless system knowledge combined with his experience managing and growing hardware and software teams, delivering wireless solutions, and working with global teams makes him well suited to lead and grow Link Lab’s development teams into the future.

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