IoT has taken the world by storm since its first introduction in the early 80s. Initially, it was created by students, for students, with the goal of making their own lives a little easier. As innovation continued, the uses of IoT expanded from personal to professional. As IoT capabilities have expanded to professional use, companies have wondered how they can utilize IoT to optimize daily operations. IoT works a little differently depending on how you use it, but it all serves the same purpose: to make life easier. By harnessing the power of IoT, companies can optimize their operations, enhance efficiency, and ultimately deliver better services to their customers. With all the supply chain issues logistics operators have faced over the past few years, it’s no surprise that many fleet managers are asking themselves whether or not IoT would be a help to them. If you’ve found yourself wondering, you’ve come to the right place.


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The Introduction of IoT

At Carnegie Mellon University in 1982, a group of students were looking for a way to save time in their busy schedules. There was a popular Coca-Cola machine on campus that many frequented that was across campus. If students wanted a drink, they had to walk across campus to get their drink. Unfortunately, there were times when they arrived only to find that the machine was empty, and they had wasted time walking to and from an empty vending machine. A question went through their head – what if there was a way to know from my dorm if the machine was empty? These brainiacs used IoT to answer their question by installing sensors in the machine that would provide updates on the machine’s fill status.

The simple use case of saving time in a busy student’s life sparked the innovation of IoT as we know it today. Now people use it daily on their phones and in their houses, while many companies use it to oversee and fulfill their daily operations. IoT represents a revolutionary concept that has transformed the way we interact with the world around us. IoT empowers objects and devices to communicate, share information, and take intelligent action without direct human intervention. It's not just about convenience; it's about efficiency, sustainability, and creating environments that respond dynamically to our needs.

As you navigate this new IoT-driven landscape, it's imperative to recognize that this technology is still evolving. Innovations in connectivity, data analytics, and sensor technology continue to expand the horizons of what is possible. The influence of IoT is reshaping our world in ways previously unimaginable. Embracing this technological revolution not only opens the door to unprecedented convenience and efficiency but also invites us to rethink how we interact with and perceive our environments. In the coming years, the potential of IoT is set to grow exponentially, promising a future where our devices, our environments, and our lives are more connected and intelligent than ever before.

Ways IoT Technology Transforms Logistics

Demand forecasting and inventory management.

IoT sensors provide invaluable insights into consumer behavior, market trends, and even environmental factors that can influence demand. This granular level of real-time data empowers logistics companies to make precise, data-driven forecasts, ensuring that they meet customer demands while avoiding costly overstocking or stockouts. Simultaneously, IoT revolutionizes inventory management. Traditionally, managing inventory involved periodic manual checks and a degree of estimation. With IoT, every item in a warehouse can be equipped with an IoT device that relays its exact location in real time. This not only enables accurate tracking but also facilitates the implementation of just-in-time inventory practices. The synergy between demand forecasting, inventory management, and IoT only begins with internal operations, extending throughout the entire supply chain ecosystem to allow for seamless collaboration and coordination. This helps ensure that the right products are produced, shipped, and delivered precisely when and where they are needed.

Remote visibility of non powered assets.

Visibility of assets is difficult to maintain, especially if your assets spend most of their time away from the warehouse. From the trailer to the cargo it contains, each asset is important to the logistics process. Without visibility of these assets, you risk losing them. Losing them causes delays in the overall supply chain. With IoT asset tracking gone are the days of relying on sporadic updates or estimated arrival times. You no longer have to wait for the customer to call to find out the shipment never arrived. IoT devices track these assets in real time so fleet managers can know the location of every asset at every moment. This continuous stream of data is invaluable for ensuring timely deliveries, optimizing routes, and proactively addressing any potential delays.

Predictive analytics and strategic decision making.

The data provided from the IoT devices attached to these assets can be used by fleet managers to make strategic decisions. Fleet managers can see information about historical trends to inform decisions they make in the future. Trends can also help fleet managers optimize routes and plan for the future. This data-driven approach empowers logistics managers to make smarter, more informed decisions that can have a profound impact on a company’s bottom line. Historical trends also enable companies to move beyond reactive approaches, allowing them to anticipate and prepare for potential challenges or opportunities before they occur. Using data analytics to make decisions helps companies reduce overall costs, too. It allows companies to align their operations with anticipated future scenarios, positioning them to capitalize on emerging opportunities and navigate potential challenges.

Asset condition monitoring.

Asset condition monitoring is a critical facet of logistics operations, ensuring the integrity and reliability of valuable equipment and resources. In essence, it involves the continuous tracking and evaluation of the physical state of assets. This proactive approach serves to prevent unforeseen breakdowns, reduce maintenance costs, and ultimately enhance operational efficiency. In the realm of logistics, where timeliness and precision are paramount, asset condition monitoring proves indispensable. By doing so, they can schedule maintenance or repairs before a breakdown occurs, thereby averting potential disruptions in the supply chain. In the case of transporting sensitive assets, sensors embedded in asset tracking tags can be deployed to monitor temperature, humidity, and even shock and acceleration. This ensures that all goods, especially those with compliance requirements, are kept under optimal conditions. For instance, perishable goods necessitate precise temperature control to prevent spoilage. By continuously monitoring and promptly addressing any deviations, logistics companies can guarantee the quality and safety of their products throughout the storage and transportation process.

Maintaining a sustainable mindset.

Implementing IoT in logistics operations is a significant step towards fostering sustainability in the industry. By leveraging IoT technologies, companies can make substantial strides in reducing their environmental footprint and operating more efficiently. One of the key ways IoT contributes to sustainability is through optimized route planning. IoT devices on trailers can be used to minimize idle time. By minimizing idle time, companies can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. IoT also plays a vital role by monitoring environmental conditions, ensuring that perishable goods or sensitive materials are stored under optimal conditions to reduce waste. For further benefit, through use of an IoT platform, companies can align procurement with actual consumption. Moreover, IoT technologies enable better monitoring and management of energy consumption across logistics facilities by tracking energy usage patterns and identifying opportunities for optimization. 

How To Get Started With IoT 

Embarking on the journey of implementing IoT in supply chain operations requires careful planning and execution. Firstly, it's essential to define clear objectives and use cases for the integration. This sets the foundation for selecting the right IoT devices and sensors that align with your logistics needs. A thorough assessment of your current technological infrastructure follows. Chances are, you already have a telematics system in place to track your trucks. Don’t get rid of this system, it’s still important. Instead, evaluate if the IoT software system you’re considering integrates with your telematics system. Pairing these two together is a great way to increase supply chain visibility to 100%. Prior to full-scale deployment, conducting a pilot test in a controlled environment is advisable. Running a pilot allows you to identify any potential issues or optimization opportunities, as well as providing an opportunity to train staff on using the IoT system effectively.  Upon full implementation, regular monitoring and evaluation of the performance data allows for the identification of areas for further improvement. Additionally, you can explore opportunities to expand the use of IoT across other aspects of your supply chain. As mentioned above, the success of your warehouse can greatly impact the success of your fleet operations. After seeing the success of IoT technology in fleet operations, consider expanding your use of IoT to your warehousing and even manufacturing facilities.

Transform Your Logistics Operations With an IoT Solution

We’ve created a solution, AirFinder Everywhere, that uses IoT to provide companies with better visibility of their logistics operations and the data they need to make strategic decisions. Before the use of AirFinder, companies only had up to 30% visibility of their operations. After implementing our solution, however, companies gained complete visibility. With full visibility, companies are able to take a preventive approach as opposed to a reactive approach. More importantly, they are able to make decisions based on data that will make for a positive customer experience.

The integration of an IoT solution is not merely a technological upgrade; it's a strategic move that can revolutionize your entire approach to the supply chain. With real-time visibility, the benefits of IoT in logistics are undeniable. Embracing this transformative technology is not just a step forward; it's a giant leap toward the future of your company’s logistics operations. IoT isn't just a technological revolution; it's a logistical evolution, a transformation that propels your operations into a stratosphere of efficiency and effectiveness. To learn more about the use of industrial IoT in supply chains, book a demo with our team!

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Written by Emily Saldivar

Emily Saldivar is a Marketing Specialist for Link Labs and has been with the company since 2020. She has a background in content writing and is furthering the Link Labs mission through social media and other platforms.

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