Ushering in the era of The Internet of Things (IoT) brings with it conceptual and cultural change in supply chain management. Previous processes that were once not possible to automate, now not only function independently, but are capable of sharing data and interacting in such a way as to maximize efficient output.
While the precise impact of IoT is dependent on technology costs outweighing efficiency savings, there are several inherent benefits the supply chain can expect from its introduction.
It's no secret sustainable, and ethical products are the only way forward. There is overwhelming demand in the marketplace from consumers for insight into the methods of production employed by large companies. With IoT, not only is there greater transparency but also smoother functionality as a side effect.
Shio Muriyama, a supply chain expert, explains, “Using a range of IoT sensor-equipped machinery throughout the supply chain means that potential problems or stumbling blocks can be flagged in real-time. Previously this would cause severe disruptive downtime. Instead, we’re seeing a systemic change in supply chain transparency and functionality.”
Following this line of thought, IoT sensors are capable of tracking heat, humidity, oil viscosity, and other key data points for the functionality of the supply chain. This is a staggering benefit, which provides employers with vital data on maintenance requirements, increasing efficiency and profit potential, while most of all, identifying integral issues that threaten to ripple through the entire supply chain.
With the demand for ethical and sustainable production, the need for precise quality control has increased. Consistency is vital, and human error is a variable the supply chain can no longer afford. IoT sensors collect data on a granular level, across the entire supply chain, collecting and correlating the vast array of data into a digestible manner for management to utilize. This increases consistency, retaining higher degrees of quality.
The Last-Mile Hurdle
The last mile is arguably one of the most important aspects of the supply chain but often undervalued from an outside perspective. Particularly in terms of perishable goods, the reliability of the product reaching the end consumer depends on a host of factors. The introduction of IoT into the supply chain can alleviate this, with the assistance of sensor-equipped technology that provides real-time data on conditions within shipping containers. Companies are faced with a slew of concerns over their last-mile delivery procedures, as this inherently impacts the chances of repeat orders. It’s a vital step in the continuity of the supply chain.
Tech writer Jade Myers recently provided insight into this area, saying, “Companies have recently shifted perspective, looking to a range of last-mile delivery technologies. The vast amount of data gathered and interpreted by IoT technologies within the supply chain will help to optimize the last-mile delivery process. It’s a no-brainer for any company keen to retain efficiency and sustainability.”
Safety in the Workplace
One of the greatest benefits for both employers and employees is the boost in workforce safety following the introduction of IoT technologies. From computerized systems that handle repetitive or potentially hazardous tasks to dynamically connected wearable devices that detect dangerous conditions and automatically warn employees or shut down equipment, IoT technology can lead to fewer work-related accidents. This issue has been consistently one of the most difficult to deal with within the supply chain and following the adaptation of IoT technologies, one which has been vastly reduced.
Incredibly, products equipped with IoT technologies can predict and track purchase patterns, adjusting production volume in real-time, thus tailoring it to real-time demand in the marketplace. Given how customer care is evolving, the need to be competitively efficient in assisting with your market’s concerns means that companies can use the new data analytics and collection capabilities to their advantage.
It's clear that IOT is revolutionizing the supply chain, and this is only the beginning. There’s no doubt that as technology evolves, the IOT will develop stronger capabilities to make supply chains more efficient and effective.