The Internet of Things (IoT) is an all-encompassing term used to describe devices that use sensors, software, chips, and other technologies to communicate information and data. IoT is merging our physical and digital worlds to create powerful operative value in every industry. For freight shipping and logistics, the benefits of IoT are numerous.
How Does the IoT System Work?
Before diving into IoT’s benefits for your supply chain, you should understand how the Internet of Things works. The IoT system may seem overwhelming and abstract, but it is simply a data collection process broken into four steps. To put IoT in context, let’s use a GPS tracker as an example.
The Device or Sensor Collects Information
First, the device gathers information from its surroundings. For example, a GPS collects coordinate information from your current location in its most basic form. More advanced GPSs can also collect traffic and collision information.
Information Transmits to the IoT Hub
Next, the devices send the information collected to the IoT Hub. Also called the IoT Gateway, the IoT Hub is the cloud server where data is processed. In the case of the GPS, satellite signals ping information to the hub instantaneously. Information can also communicate data to the IoT Hub by cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ethernet connections.
Data is Processed
After the cloud receives the information, it is analyzed and processed. Data processing looks different for each device, but the goal remains the same: analyze the most critical details of data as quickly as possible. For example, for a GPS, the cloud will receive the coordinates from the device and analyze this information to determine routes, an ETA, and distance to the location.
User Interface Receives IoT Data
The final step is to communicate this information to the user. All the data collected and analyzed in the process provides no value without the last step. After being analyzed in the cloud, data is sent to the system to be read by the user. Then, the GPS data is transmitted back to the driver to guide them to their destination or a TMS for a freight broker to track the shipment. Again, this step will look different for each device since each IoT system has varying goals to accomplish.
Benefits of IoT for Freight and Logistics Management
IoT is disrupting every growing industry by increasing efficiency, especially in freight transportation and logistics management. Business Insider predicts there will be over 41 billion working IoT devices by 2027. At this rate, if you are not investing in technology, you are missing out on the great benefits of IoT and falling behind competitors.
1. Increase Transportation Efficiency with IoT Visibility
You can increase efficiency by maximizing performance while minimizing resources. Implementing IoT into your freight strategy makes this daunting task achievable. One way to reduce resources in transportation and logistics is to increase intermodal visibility.
Imagine how simple moving freight would be if you could predict the future. What if you could tell drivers the exact routes to avoid traffic, poor weather conditions, and high fuel prices? IoT technology makes this dream a reality. Even better, IoT devices update you in real time if problems do arise so you can act quickly. In addition, IoT gives you more accurate information before shipping and enhanced visibility during transit to increase efficiency.
2. Save Money with IoT Logistics Data
The future of connected technology will help companies save money on shipping by enabling drivers to access information about weather conditions, rest stops, and parking lots. Analysts can also predict fuel consumption based on driving distance and road conditions to find better lanes and modes.
With the rise in inflation and skyrocketing fuel prices, cutting costs is more critical than ever. However, transportation companies see a surprising benefit from investing in IoT technologies is decreased fuel costs. For example, after implementing an IoT device to control braking, Trucking company C. R. England saw 7 percent fuel savings.
3. Advance Safety Initiatives with IoT Automation
From warehouse to consumer, IoT technology can improve safety for all. In 2020, there were a reported 213,100 warehouse-related injuries. In addition, there are on average 130,000 annual injuries and 4000 annual deaths from semi-truck accidents. Seatbelts and airbags were the first to revolutionize safety in transportation, and IoT is the next step.
Any human-operated equipment or vehicle poses a risk. IoT can reduce the risk of workplace injury or death through automation. Companies such as Amazon integrate IoT into their warehouses with moving robots to improve safety and efficiency in the packaging process. The rise in automated trucks will also increase safety since 90% of all large truck crashes are due to driver error.
4. Increase Supply Chain Sustainability with Real-Time IoT Data
Green logistics is a leading supply chain trend and does not go unnoticed by consumers. In fact, 47 percent of consumers state that they have switched to alternative products or services due to a violation of their beliefs, including environmental responsibility. Integrating IoT into your TMS can help you find the best routes to get freight from point A to B while reducing fuel intake and carbon emissions. More efficient routes also mean less waste and spoilage. This benefit is especially vital for the food, beverage, and medical industries, which often ship perishable goods on a tight schedule.
5. Improve Customer Experience with IoT Visibility
As stated before, IoT significantly improves intermodal visibility, which benefits you as a businessperson and your customers. For example, IoT technology keeps your customers informed and happy by predicting transit times before shipping and sending GPS signals during transit. In addition, investing in IoT provides your customers with accurate information about their product status to improve their overall experience.
IoT provides connectivity, security, analytics, and monetization to enable more intelligent transportation strategies. The Internet of Things is a long-term technological advancement for transportation and supply chains. As a result, businesses will become more agile, find profits from deeper analysis, provide customers with better experiences, and safely deliver goods on time.
How to Implement IoT into Your Supply Chain Management
PLS uses IoT technology in our advanced, in-house transportation management system (TMS), PLS Pro. It is a fast and simple way to integrate IoT technology into your supply chain management. PLS Pro allows businesses to control, design, and analyze the transportation of their products to fit their needs. Save time and money while improving efficiency and customer experience – get a quote today!