The “Internet of Things” refers to containers, appliances, equipment or other objects that have added functionality thanks to an internet connection.

For instance, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags placed on packages allow for the precise tracking of shipments.

With a number of connected devices already available and more being developed each day, the logistics field is already going through a tech revolution that is boosting productivity and cutting costs.

Better visibility

Currently, in-transit visibility is the most obvious way the supply chain is being improved by the Internet of Things. The logistics habitat has many animals, and many moving parts. Goods are handled and moved among suppliers, distribution centers, retailers and customer. This many nodes essentially demands a smart network.

Crucial to in-transit visibility are cloud-based GPS and RFID technologies, which offer identification, location and other tracking data. By leveraging the information gathered by these technologies, supply chain managers have detailed visibility throughout its entire transit cycle. Information gathered from GPS and RFID technologies not only enables supply chain professionals to automate their processes by exactly forecasting the time of arrival; they can also keep track of critical details like temperature control, which affects quality.

Furthermore, by putting an RFID chip in a pallet and a smart device in the shipment vehicle, information is moved into the cloud, and the devices can recognize the pallet and not only see its GPS coordinates, but also bring in other information like weather, traffic and driver-specific information like average speed.

Merging real-time sensor information with context data can offer intelligence of greater order to all the stakeholders in the ecosystem. This allows the stakeholders to make effective decisions that push forward overall productivity. This moves the supply chain from a reactive footing to a proactive one by providing data well before an event occurs. For instance, data on a potential traffic or construction delay before the trip begins has much greater value than receiving that alert when a truck is stuck in the traffic.

Case study: Connecting production to logistics

The Internet of Things can stretch beyond shipping applications and into production.

At Stanley Black & Decker’s DeWalt Power Tools plant in Reynosa, Mexico, management implemented and Internet of Things solution that allowed workers to report problems by pressing buttons located on the production line. A button press sent data to the software system, and the system sent messages with the location of the problem and suggestion on how to follow up.

After the system was implemented, line efficiency spiked 96 percent, throughput rose about 10 percent, inventory carrying costs fell by 10 percent and defective product parts fell by 16 percent. After the success at this location, the Internet of Things solution was expanded to all of the plant’s production lines. The team also added tracking in the warehouse; which enabled real-time tracking of materials and direction to proper lines.

At ZDA, we work with our clients to assist them with every aspect of their business. If your organization needs a custom staffing solution to meet its logistics needs, contact a leading executive recruiter in supply chain today!