How IoT is Improving Logistics and Transportation

|March 18, 2016 0
Image courtesy of zirconicusso at freedigitalphotos
IoT-based solutions are moving beyond IT and coalescing with OT

Sanchit Jain

INDIA: Whenever, we hear the word-‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), everybody relates it to smart watches, wearable and other consumer-oriented smart electronics. But there is more than what meets the eye. Every equipment, machine or device comes with embedded chips or sensors that are processing a hint of information. Now these ‘things’ holding a sliver of intelligence when connected over internet can compile together greater intelligence. But it is not only the ‘gathered intelligence’ that makes IoT powerful.

With IoT, the systems are literally triggering a physical event in response to a data signal. Internet-of-things has finally made it possible for machines to act on information in the physical world and on real time basis, without any human intervention.

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Software providers have started building IoT-based solutions that are moving beyond information technology (IT) and coalescing with operation technology (OT). The image here is a very simple example of how an IoT-based solution will start solving Logistics and Transportation challenges from here onwards.

IoT-Use-Case-in-LogisticsCourtesy: Dreamorbit

IoT-Use-Case-in-Logistics

IoT is headed towards solving bigger problems for Logistics and Transportation industry starting from streamlining the operations to helping them manage risks far better than before. The top three evident benefits of IoT to Transportation and Logistics Companies are:

Operation Efficiency: There are several applications of IoT in Transportation and Logistics industry that warrant optimal operations productivity. Few real-world instances that have already proven significant improvement in efficiency and better control in Operations are:

1. Managing fleet with IoT:

Fleet Management software backed with IoT will now do more than just route planning and load assignment. The Fleet Manager will be able to monitor fuel consumption, vehicle uptime, drivers’ behavior and many such more parameters. At the same time the system can be configured to automatically trigger an action in case an anomaly is detected.

2. IoT-based Yard and Warehouse Management:

So far, the capability of existing software is limited to-managing inventory and monitoring employees’ productivity. With IoT in the picture, warehouses can incorporate proximity experience using Bluetooth LE beacons for indoor location mapping, indoor navigation and auto-guided docking trucks. The system can be configured such that fork-lift truck can pull on emergency brakes when the sensors on truck sense an obstacle, even without having drivers on it. Apple’s iBeacon and Google’s Eddystone are going to extend the usability further.

3. Real-Time Customer Servicing:

IoT is bringing a paradigm shift in Customer Servicing. Any product or device that you might be selling to your customer can now be configured to get self-serviced with use of IoT. In context of Logistics, a shipment can be tagged with a GPS tracking chip that interact with the system itself. There will be no need for a human dispatcher to make an entry in the system to schedule a delivery or track it. Machine to Machine interaction will take care of this process.

4. Smart Performance Tracking:

Transportation and Logistics is currently plagued with rising insurance expenses and assuring if drivers are following the traffic rules. Along with the ‘Hour of Service’ regulation kicking in, measuring hours a driver spends behind the wheel and making optimal use of hours available has never been more important. Sensors on the vehicle along with mobile app will help in calculating this information accurately.

Financially Viable: Whether it is operational expenditure or infrastructure investments; saving costs is the perpetual goal of any asset owner and service providers. By adopting IoT-based solutions; firstly, companies would save money by optimizing asset utilization and minimizing pilferage. This would reduce the operational cost borne by the companies. Secondly, the cost involved in setting up an IoT-based Transportation Management System is nominal. A basic IoT solution will need sensors and Mobile or Desktop Application that computes data over a cloud. All these components are now either available at very competitive prices or already available within an organization.

Moreover, since IoT solutions are more about Machine-to-Machine interaction which drastically decreases the data entry jobs of humans. The overhead cost involved in hiring skilled staff or training them for using new software is eliminated.

Highly Flexible: There is no doubt that IoT solutions are highly flexible in terms of scalability, extensibility and accessibility. Moreover, the implementation cost and efforts required to roll out an IoT-based solution is less than any typical enterprise level suite. The solution is hosted on a secured cloud with strong authentication algorithms with 99 per cent uptime. Any number of people, processes, and things can be connected over internet with flexibility in scaling up or down anytime.

(Sanchit Jain is CEO, DreamOrbit. Views expressed here are personal)

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