Traditionally, businesses have relied on third-party logistics contractors to make sure that goods get from one place to another. This was a reasonable solution but surely open to human error, believing that all tracking, shipping, receipt, etc. have been accomplished manually.
These days, however, we have"Smart" technology with the capability to perform complicated tasks at a greater rate and with higher precision. The combination of cloud computing, hardware, and analytics improvements have made a new avenue for conducting monitoring and fulfillment operations, powered by the Internet of Things (IoT).
Exactly what's IoT?
The Internet of Things is a brand new technology paradigm which enables objects to "talk" with other items and with people, through embedded electronic nodes that are designed for specific functions. It makes these items "smart." Thus "smart" thermostat can speak with its owner and other "smart" devices in the home and vice versa. A "smart" automobile can alert its proprietor issues on the way to do the job.
So, how does this new technology connect to supply chain management? Oftentimes. In so doing it may remove the third party logistics contractor and speak directly to a supplier, shipper or receiver, according to Sean Liu, CEO of Vergara Trade, a trade finance platform built on blockchain to facilitate crypto credit improvement on trade finance transactions and enhance on traditional factoring and asset-based lending (ABL) using cryptocurrency as additional collateral.
There are unique aspects of tracking the locations of raw materials, stock, and finished products.
- Tracking the locations of materials once delivered. Again, when the manufacturing facility is big and shipments are coming all the time, it may be quite a nightmare when a particular dispatch is somehow "lost" in the lawn. Those embedded RFID tags resolve this matter.
- Tracking delivery and transit by a raw materials supplier to some manufacturing center. Many manufacturers rely upon lots of suppliers to deliver ordered materials punctually. Whenever these suppliers can utilize RFID (radio frequency identification) tags on materials, everyone knows the route, the days, and the actual delivery to producer. This provides full transparency in both ends of this series.
- Tracking products and materials within a facility. Materials do get lost. This can result in manufacturing difficulties, flaws and unhappy clients. With RFID tags, nothing has been lost.
Lots of goods are perishable or environmentally sensitive. Certain temperatures, humidity, and other conditions have to be kept for hazard control. IoT software for these conditions is ideal, as, just like a wine fridge in a home, there will be alarms when conditions go awry.
"IoT allows for tracking states during dispatch -- not just humidity and temperatures, but shocks and vibrations," explained Liu. "Therefore, both transporters and receivers of products can be notified in advance of shipping, and a replacement shipment may be dispatched in short order. When blockchain is added into the mix, it increases transparency, security, and confidence."
CB radios and then cell phones are the standard means of communicating with transportation vehicles, as goods are moved from one point to another. And you will find a lot of those pesky regulations concerning driver operations and the remainder, and of course weight compliance difficulties.
"With IoT along with blockchain, which eases the recording of every trade across multiple copies of the distributed ledger, a producer or contracted transporter knows where all his vehicles will be at any given stage during the transit procedure, can track that it is on schedule, and also can be immediately alerted if there's a breakdown or various other problems," Liu explained.
Cisco recently teamed up with the California Shock Trauma Air Rescue service -- an aviation operation -- at the use of IoT for the dispatching functions. The biggest advantage is that if a call comes in, the location is "geo-matched" into the nearest crew and that crew is automatically dispatched to the scene. And the whole operation is monitored throughout the process.
Transporting perishable goods
IBM is using its artificial intelligence system, Watson, to not only offer efficiency in their supply chains but also to present predictive analytics -- data that helps reduce disruptions and dangers in the circulation of goods from one stage to another. In a documented case study with a plant provider, the usage of Watson enabled the supplier real-time visibility to understand where and when to send plants as they were required.
Important considerations for adoption
As firms look to IoT applications for their logistics solutions, Liu said they need to ask vendors some critical questions, including the following:
- What degree of location accuracy is available? Since the procedure is employed, there might be a need for growth of reference points.
- What will be the installation infrastructure demands? A new facility/enterprise can program for IoT infrastructure because it's built. An existing enterprise will require retrofitting.
- What are the expenses involved? It's not simply the tag prices entailed. There are costs related to battery life and energy consumption, as well as the employee training requirements.
- What are the prices variances among passive RFID, Bluetooth, and WiFi tags? Budgets will dictate which are the most suitable.
- How secure is this system? Any time information is put "out there," there is danger involved, so there need to be multiple layers of encryption and security. Sony was hacked. Xbox was hacked. Several U.S. electricity grids were recently hacked. Even smart cars are in danger of being hacked. This underlines just how cyber safety is.
IoT is clearly the future of logistics and supply chain control. It is "clever," effective, and so, when combined together with blockchain and predictive evaluation, can supply suppliers, manufacturers, and transporters together with the real time information that they should maintain a competitive edge.