You’ve probably heard buzzwords like “IoT” and “smart devices” rattling around, but you may not realize what they’re referring to or how they relate to your business. That’s why we’re here to help, both in terms of understanding IoT and why you need it in your supply chain operation. We provide a quick overview of IoT here: What is IoT?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a collection of interconnected physical devices that can monitor, send, and exchange data via cellular or Wi-Fi networks. IoT devices measure things about the world around them, such as location, temperature, light levels, humidity, movement, handling, and speed of movement. Tags communicate different data based off the sensors they have, but they all share one thing in common: a connection to the internet. If the tags themselves do not have a direct connection to the internet, they can communicate sensor data to a device that is connected, such as a cell phone, smart device, or gateway device.
1. Gain Visibility and Control
In a market where competition is always stiff, staying on point in every aspect of your supply chain is critical. That means keeping track of all your assets and inventory 24/7 and knowing when they move. GPS-enabled IoT devices are perfect for this, because they can attach to specific storage containers or to materials or products. The devices transmit their locations, which GPS satellites can pick up and track the movement of your goods.
2. Track Movement Speed
Another way IoT devices can bolster the efficiency of your supply chain is by tracking the speed at which your assets or inventory are moving, allowing you to determine when they’ll reach their destination. Suppliers and distribution centers can prepare to receive your goods, reducing handling times and bolstering efficiency, ultimately saving you trouble and money. Verifying tracking details through IoT devices also allows you to validate exactly when goods arrive, enabling easier supply and demand planning.
3. Monitor Storage Conditions
Many inventory items have strict storage requirements to prolong shelf life and ensure usability. Items such as food and beverages must stay within a specific temperature threshold to remain sellable. IoT devices can monitor temperature, humidity levels, light intensity, and other environmental factors that can affect the quality of your inventory. These devices can even trigger an alarm if certain parameters are exceeded, such as a storage room breaching a specific temperature threshold.
IoT tracking devices are so much more than cool tech - they also give you the reassurance of knowing where your inventory is 24/7, at rest and in motion. The result is a supply chain that operates more smoothly and efficiently and the ability to enforce better quality management for your inventory items that have a short shelf life.