When someone refers to the Internet of Things (IoT), most of us relate it to electronics or wearables - perhaps the type of technologies that are driving people towards highly personalised consumer lifestyle. But there is much more to the IoT story, as with many other areas of the economy, IoT has transformed supply chain to the next level and studies have revealed a profound effect on delivery logistics.
What supply chains were missing can now be achieved with the combination of mobile computing, and cloud services, all of which are influenced by the rise of IoT. This will change how the delivery & fulfillment companies are performing their operations & related services.
According to a research conducted by Cisco, the total amount of data created worldwide by connected people and things will reach up to 500 zettabytes (1 Zettabyte = 1 trillion gigabytes) by 2019. That's how IoT will influence different aspects of supply chain such as inventory management, manufacturing, logistics etc.
Internet of Things Evolving 'Smart' Warehouses:
IoT will also leverage the warehousing functions performed usually to store inventory. With the latest supply chain technology and IoT, a 'smart' warehouse will serve as a hub to boost efficiency and responsiveness throughout the supply chain. This will involve the role of wearables (smart watches) to sensors, smart equipment and other IoT devices.
A research conducted by Zebra Technologies shows that 7 out of 10 supply chain decision makers aim to accelerate their use of technology to create smart warehouses by 2020. Further, the report suggests that consumer expectations will drive more investments in IT, operation functions in warehouse, manufacturing and logistics by 2020.
Internet of Things Strengthening Fleet Management
Now, just think how smart home applications enable you to control an ordinary thermostat from your handheld device despite being miles away from the main location. This is not it, as IoT technology continues to expand in different areas such as retail and healthcare, fleet management is on the verge of transformation, connecting drivers & vehicles like never before.
Following benefits in fleet management can be estimated from the way IoT is emerging:
Greater Visibility: Managers will be able to know the real-time status of related operations. For example, they can observe the drivers making unnecessary stops on their assigned routes. How are they driving? Are they wasting fuel by leaving the engine running?
Getting such information in real-time is a dream which will be fulfilled with the integration of IoT at all levels. This will enable managers to optimize their fleets by identifying potential problems as and when they occur.
Eco-Friendly Operations: Excessive idling time and driving over the speed limit will not just waste money in terms of extra fuel costs and wear & tear etc; they can also be perilous for the environment. Moreover, research suggests that such vehicles on consumption of every 1 billion gallon of diesel emit more than 10 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
IoT technology will promise to track such incidents in quick time, so that necessary actions can be employed to mitigate and minimize the risk of polluting the environment.
Pulling vast amount of data: Information like fuel consumption, vehicle utilization, speed tracking, miles logged etc. can be available to managers on any IoT device of their choice, which will let them collect, analyze and understand the data and make abrupt decisions as and when required.
Achieve Cost Optimization: Eventually, the end goal for the fleet manager is to optimize the cost associated with operations concerning fleet management. Thus, IoT will let them assess how their budget has spent and identify where they can save money plus tax savings.
How About IoT in Procurement Decision Making?
As IoT devices become smarter, connecting thousands and millions of devices together, no matter where they are, mobile procurement will become an integral part of purchasing strategy. Procurement workflows involving suppliers, staff and customers will be handled through IoT devices, equipping all the stakeholders to optimize replenishment cycles.
To sum it up, IoT is the way of the future, not just for the supply chain areas discussed but for all aspects of work & life. As IoT aspires to become the norm and necessity, the companies embracing it today will have a significant competitive advantage over those relying on legacy systems and traditional supply chain processes.