The Internet of Things (IoT) has been one of the disruptive technologies coming to the forefront recently. It refers to a series of interconnected devices with the capability to exchange, report, and monitor data. IoT platforms have proven to be a revolution for several industries- be it healthcare, energy, transportation, retail, or finance. The supply chain is not an exception to the above norm either. The IoT has been successful in forecasting and managing applications. Thus, there has been an improvement in the decision-making process and an enhancement in the fleet’s operational efficiency.
Why do IoT platforms matter to the supply chain industry?
IoT devices offer multiple benefits for all segments of supply chain management:
- They offer reassurance about the location of the goods. The managers can verify that goods are present where stakeholders say they are. Whether in rest or motion, the movement of goods can be tracked.
- Smart supply chain management allows the identification of issues (delay in delivery) at an early stage.
- Real-time tracking of the shipment
- Inventory visibility from any off-site location
- Easy to carry out supply and demand planning
- Ensures improved quality management as raw materials and processed goods are kept in optimal conditions.
How would IoT help in supply chain management?
In the supply chain industry, the IoT can prove to be an effective method to authenticate and track shipments and product deliveries. Monitoring the storage conditions allows the management to improve the quality of products. Thus, it is quite obvious that integrating IoT platforms with SCM can be a revolution. Mentioned below are a few advantages of smart supply chain management:
- Ability to authenticate the location of a product at any point in time
IoT platforms provide the users with a stream of coherent real-time data regarding the location of the goods. You can connect the IoT devices to the products or even the storage containers where the IoT device will transmit its coordinates to GPS satellites. As a result, managers will be able to track goods without any difficulty.
- Monitoring the storage conditions
An essential part of having optimized supply chain management is to ensure proper storage conditions for the products. Items like chemicals and food require specific conditions to maintain their quality. IoT platforms contain environmental sensors that can collect the conditions of the shipment. Thus, the management can proactively respond to the situation. An example would be installing an IoT device to capture temperature, humidity, and pressure within the storage containers. If the managers notice something that might not augur well for the product, they can take necessary corrective action. Additionally, some devices can raise the alarm if a certain threshold is reached. Such features minimize spoilage at various points in the supply chain.
Having real-time data ensures that managers can inform their clients about any possible delay. Additionally, several companies share the real-time location of the products with the customers. Hence, there is improved communication and more transparency between the parties involved in the supply chain.
- Improving mitigation measures and contingency planning
With the proper integration of data analytics and IoT, supply chain managers can plan routes effectively. They can consider the weather conditions, traffic or damaged roadways, and other incidents resulting in a delay of the shipment. IoT platforms can curate the required data to aid managers in formulating effective contingency plans to avoid delays in the delivery of products. As a result, the alerts make the process of risk mitigation way simpler.
- Locating goods in the godowns
If you tag an IoT device to a product, locating it in a warehouse or a distribution center is quite easy. Thus, IoT helps identify and manage goods accurately even when you have several products in a warehouse. Combining IoT with Artificial Intelligence will empower the managers or decision-makers to take a step towards complete warehouse automation.
- Forecasting the arrival of products
Combining advanced analytics with IoT platforms can help decision-makers make precise delivery forecasts. Thus, the decision-making process improves on the whole.
Adoption of IoT platforms across various industries
Supply chain management has uses across multiple industries. Throughout the delivery of a product, several operations unfold simultaneously. To ensure smooth business operations, SCM managers must streamline the process. The Internet of Things helps in establishing a smart supply chain management network. Here is a deep dive into how IoT manages to impact various segments in SCM:
IoT platforms make asset management way easier than it was. They allow managers to move away from the traditional methods of managing their inventory. The software can update the status of all the products automatically.
Several large logistics and retail companies have utilized the full potential of IoT by using them to manage huge warehouses. Using IoT in SCM can help to automate all operations within the warehouse. The infrastructure can be integrated with drones to monitor the warehouse conditions.
Better resource management
Smart supply chain management can help managers identify pain points that they would have otherwise missed out on. IoT systems can identify process inefficiencies, detect leakage of resources, and predict possibilities of an equipment failure. Thus, the managers are better prepared to handle their resources. Predictive analytics has applications across various industries. Predicting system failures can help managers save a lot of money.
IoT proves to be a sustainability enabler in smart supply chain management. It can help managers to comply with the ever-changing regulations regarding emissions. IoT sensors can provide accurate information on how much energy and water is being used. Thus, it is easier to implement green strategies.
Challenges of using IoT in supply chain management
Despite the growing adoption of digital technologies, the adoption of IoT platforms faces several challenges like:
- A major skill gap
- Challenges to store data
- Data security
- Connectivity problems
Amazon has been a pioneer in implementing IoT platforms across its supply chain. Around a decade back, it had introduced a fleet of connected robots for smooth warehouse management. By implementing IoT, Amazon has successfully optimized its inventory management and packaging activities.
An IoT platform can help both small and large businesses grow. Thus, we can see that IoT has several uses in supply chain & logistics automation.