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How IoT Is Revolutionizing Company Supply Chains

Emmanuel Christi Das

For long enough, the shipping giants and manufacturers transported products in containers or pallets straight to a retailer’s distribution center. Technology has painted a different picture now. Companies have started delivering packages and items directly to the consumer. From keeping a health check of equipments and delivery fleet to tracking assets or products, every thing across the supply chain can be supported by the Internet of Things.

Contrary to having a standard preventative maintenance schedule that is based on the average machine of its kind, the sensors collect data that, post analysis, helps in predicting issues that would otherwise go undetected. This predictive maintenance approach can be a real life saver in keeping the supply chain running smoothly, and help companies save money by preventing expensive equipment failures.

Besides, asset tracking solutions is at the top 3 on a supply chain priority list. Sure, asset tracking was never a revelation and frankly not much has been ever done to put the ‘conveyor belt’ is flow. Now that we have been introduced to IoT technology, the potential to increase the amount and quality of information available has just gone from zero to level 9000.

There are many sensor technology options that one can throw in a discussion, but lets just take one step at a time. Currently, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons are the most cost-effective technology for achieving real-time visibility into supply chain assets and inventory. This has digital barcodes, but does not require manual scanning. BLE beacons provide continuous information on the identity, location, and environmental condition of supply chain assets, including temperature, shock and humidity. By 2021 it’s estimated that 380 million BLE beacons will be used for asset visibility solutions in the supply chain. But that’s not all. There is a glut of applications for BLE sensors. For instance, cold chain logistics involves managing the flow of products from origin to destination in a temperature- controlled supply chain, requiring an uninterrupted series of refrigerated production, distribution, and storage activities. More so, for pharmaceutical companies, a security breach represents one of the most expensive operating costs in its cold chain. Although security breaches are rare, a pharmaceutical company must destroy its entire shipment when they happen. According to Forrester, 58 percent to 77 percent of surveyed organizations consider locating objects, containers, and personnel as the top fundamental functions of IoT solutions. Some postal services use smart mailboxes in remote areas to see whether they’re empty and avoid a wasted journey before collection. Imagine no wastage of important resources and capital.

Gartner says a thirty-fold increase in internet-connected physical devices will significantly alter how the supply chain operates. Given that stats, we should keep our eyes wide open and arms wide spread to embrace the winds of change in the supply chain dynamics.

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