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How IoT affects the logistics and warehousing industries

How IoT affects the logistics and warehousing industries

Everyone knows that technology is a part of everyday life, and is almost always present. But did you know that there is a concept for this? The Internet of Things (IoT).

What exactly is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things describes this idea that everything with an on/off switch is part of this interconnectivity. The Internet of Things also includes the people using these devices, so the connections are made between the people and their things.

The number of devices that IoT is expected to connect seems to vary based on who you ask. We tend to believe the higher numbers when looking at it from the global perspective. The most recent figures we’ve seen is that IoT will connect up to 50 billion devices by 2020, generating both excitement and skepticism regarding the value to the supply chain.

Because smart devices are changing most customers’ experiences, every industry has to adapt. For instance, Amazon created IoT Order Buttons, which allow their customers to order supplies with the simple push of a button.

How does the Internet of Things impact the logistics and warehousing industries?

Many changes are already evident, with more changes on the horizon. IoT will change jobs, processes, and customer experience.

Fleet management and transportation

Fleet management has always been a large part of the logistics industry. With the advancements of GPS tracking services, managing a fleet of vehicles has never been easier. This new connection provided by the Internet of Things will make connecting and reaching all of a fleet virtually effortless. We at On Time Logistics are already using technology to track our drivers when they are in the field, so we can not only know where customer packages are, but so we know who we can assign new deliveries to as they come in.

IoT can also have impacts of the trucking side of the logistics industry. By adding Internet of Things technology to trucks, companies could track the fuel efficiency of the truck itself and can look into the details of the driver’s route. This technology could help to spot potential oil leaks and other truck motor malfunctions to help the driver and fleet manager. Spotting these issues well in advance will potentially reduce the cost of repairs because problems are being caught right away.

Warehousing

IoT affects many aspects of warehouse management from inventory control to potential safety enhancements.

RFID and other tracking technologies allows a business owner to know what products are in the warehouse and where products are going. We offer that technology in our own warehouses and our clients tell us it’s a major asset to their business to be able to control their inventory from the comfort of their office computer.

IoT also helps improve accuracy and speed for warehouse workers managing inventory. For example, connected devices such as wearable technology and remote sensors can make it possible for employees to use real-time data on the warehouse items’ location, meaning orders could be processed more efficiently. This is particularly important for small to mid-sized companies seeking to compete with Amazon.

There are growing concerns that IoT will reduce warehouse jobs and in one way, that’s true. There will soon be a time when fewer workers are needed to find and deliver items within a warehouse. That said, the warehouse jobs will change from heavy-lifting to more data analysis and technology management.

Warehouse accidents are still more prevalent than they should be and IoT can help improve those numbers. If warehouse employees were connected to machinery via IoT sensors they could be warned of nearby vehicles, and forklift speed could be regulated in areas of high congestion. Security measures such as only allowing employees carrying approved ID cards that they swipe for warehouse entry are already heavily used and will only become more popular.

Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management is much more than managing inventory. It’s tracking everything from the materials that are required for your manufacturing all the way to making sure the finished product arrives to the customer on time and in good condition.

Depending on what type of business you operate, you may not track the materials pre-production closely, but consumers are putting an increasing amount of pressure on vendors to know where and how all their products are made so this concept is still relevant.

IoT should be used to track current inventory, make replenishment more efficient, and allow for more immediate price tracking. This will all help businesses make sound decisions on product choice, pricing, and even vendor relationships.

Managing your Logistics

On Time Logistics is involved with several aspects of the supply chain from warehousing to last mile delivery. We use technology to make all our processes more efficient, thus better serving our clients. Do you have a need for warehousing or deliveries? Contact us today! We serve the Northwest Arkansas, Little Rock and Tulsa areas.

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