The logistics industry has been a key driver behind the Internet of Things (IoT) uprising, due to its ever-increasing demand for innovative and intelligent supply-chain management solutions. Also, when compared with other IoT use cases, smart logistics operations typically show a faster return on investment, while managing to reduce the core management complexities and associated costs. Neil Gouveia, African sales manager at Zebra Technologies, points out that often, complying with the government regulations in the transport and logistics industry quickly translates into a sizeable amount of time that drivers must spend on paperwork, instead of getting on with the driving.
IoT in Logistics
When it comes to IoT in logistics, it is about knowing where assets are (location-based services) and what those assets are doing (performance-based services). IoT also has the ability to provide reports, either when requested or automatically. IoT helps with predicting maintenance and preventing threats to the seamless functioning of a logistics department.
With advancements in technology, the majority of field-service operations will start to move away from traditional laptop and desktop computers, if they haven’t already, to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets that perform specific tasks such as point-of-sale, scanning and signature capture. “Real-time location services (RTLS) are key to providing effective tracking data with higher accuracy to perform advanced or predictive analytics,” says Gouveia. Many IoT technologies that are available today, such as the system TSI offers, have capabilities to run more complex diagnostics and even trigger preventative actions when it comes to maintenance. This enables parts to be ordered ahead of time and be delivered to where they are needed. Technicians can also be dispatched to the exact location of the asset to perform routine maintenance with little disruption on the flow of business operations. Knowing what is needed and when it is needed, and being able to action this, is likely to save on costs.
Managing Stock Levels
In many instances, suppliers are reluctant to maintain high stock levels of parts, but with a comprehensive analysis of IoT data and the application of AI algorithms, the ability to predict when a part will be required and where it can be sourced in order to be delivered in time becomes possible. Systems can also be configured to integrate with a supplier’s system to determine stock levels, the likelihood of a stock shortage or a delay in the delivery of stock and adjust the delivery date to the client accordingly.
“Future-orientated decision-makers have revealed that next-generation supply chains will reflect connected business intelligence and automated solutions that will add newfound speed, precision and cost effectiveness to transport and labour,” says Gouveia. As industry leaders in logistics technology in South Africa, the future is looking brighter than ever.