Like most economic sectors, the digital revolution has an important impact on supply chain. The IoT is going to change how this process operates by transforming inventory, logistics, manufacturing, and much more. The supply chain can gain the most from IoT technology. Shipments can be traced throughout the delivery process, speeding up implementations. When stock is low, the IoT is proactive and places orders to restock various items automatically. Equipment monitoring can also be used to predict when equipment needs servicing or maintenance.
To improve supply chain management, make better decisions, save time and also money, supply chain operators are considering IoT solutions like asset tracking. It is not a new method as such – Cargo and shipping companies already use barcode scanners to track and manage their inventory.
But currently this technology of scanners becomes obsolete because it can only collect data on large types of items, rather than the location or status of specific items. The latest asset tracking solutions offer much more vital and usable data, especially when combined with other IoT technologies.
In 2015, delivery company DHL and tech giant Cisco estimated that IoT technologies such as asset tracking solutions could have an impact of more than $1.9 trillion in the supply chain and logistics sector.
A recent survey by GT Nexus and Capgemini found that 70% of retail and manufacturing companies have already started a digital transformation project in their supply chain and logistics operations.
“75% of respondents say digital transformation of the supply chain is important, but a massive gap exists today between where companies are today and where they expect to be in just five years from now,” said Mathieu Dougados, Senior Vice President, Capgemini Consulting.
There are now more and more new technologies that are already changing the way logistics companies operate, such as:
- Active and passive RFID tags are used to provide data on the elements to which they are attached. The main difference between the two is that the passive labels have an RFID antenna and a microchip to store information, while the active labels have their own battery and can sometimes include additional sensors.
- Bluetooth tags and beacons are new solutions that provide tracking data in very small, confined areas. They are most often used in retail stores to monitor customer traffic and provide them with marketing messages.
- Near-Field Communication (NFC) tags, based on RFID standards, allow workers to use their mobile devices as readers.
- Connected fleet management solutions by using GPS and other tracking technologies to gather data in real time on the locations and operations of vehicules.
The Internet of Things will contribute to a major shift in the delivery and logistics sector as well as relieving stress for retailers, delivery companies and consumers, however this is only one area that IoT will have an impact in the next few years.
Amine, Consultant, Leyton France
 The Current and Future State of Digital Supply Chain Transformation. GTNEXUS & CAPGEMINI. 2016. http://www.gtnexus.com/newsroom/press-release/new-study-70-executives-have-started-digital-supply-chain-transformation