The Internet of Things has the power to simplify modern logistics. Automated insights about shipments can help logistics teams make better decisions, improve efficiency, manage assets and deliver exceptional customer experiences. But in these early days of smart logistics it can be difficult to see a clear path forward.
What can IoT tracking do for your logistics?
Modern logistics are immensely complicated. Companies ship around the world, in multiple modes of transport and outsource to logistics partners who themselves have third-party partners. In this environment, it’s easy for details to fall between the cracks and weigh down an entire supply chain.
IoT tracking is designed to make it simple to keep track of the details too. Through low-power IoT tracking sensors and edge computing, IoT can give a logistics team automated access to important information from the field.
For example, real-time condition data from a shipment can help ensure safe deliveries. Or, an IoT asset tracking system can deliver movement insights that help companies minimise missing, poorly positioned or idle equipment. Companies can even use data from an IoT tracking system to provide customers with new services, such as real-time shipment updates or dynamic delivery estimates.
Exploring the challenges
If you’ve considered IoT tracking for logistics, you might be aware of a few challenges. One challenge is the limited amount of standardisation in the technology today. Companies want to ensure the long-term viability of their investments, and ask: “will standards change within a few years?” Another challenge can be striking a balance between good results and low price. Many companies find themselves unconvinced of the return on investment in these early stages of the technology.
The final challenge with IoT tracking is the question of what to do with the data. Many businesses are coming to the realisation that the value of IoT lies not in the data itself but in how the collected data is applied. Without the right tools in place, there is a risk that your IoT data isn’t being used to its full potential to optimise your supply chain the way you would like.
Tips for success
With the right approach to IoT tracking, your business can navigate the challenges above. Here are three tips for successfully getting started with IoT tracking for logistics.
1. Understand the power of mobile IoT devices
IoT tracking devices that are movable and re-usable are a great option to get started with IoT for logistics. Compared to an integrated, built-in IoT tracking system, they come at a more favourable cost with less commitment and upfront investment. Mobile devices can be also repositioned as your business grows and your needs change, and give you independence from ocean carriers during trans-shipment so that you can access your data no matter what. All this power lets you achieve operational flexibility in the short term and the long term.
2. Secure your information flow
As mentioned, it is critical to get your IoT data to the right places at the right times. A good place to start is to choose an IoT solution that makes it easy to integrate your collected data into your current in-house Enterprise Resource Planner (ERP) or Transportation Management System (TMS). With a seamless integration into your existing systems, you’ll be able to tap into the benefits of IoT straight away without an unnecessarily expensive – and uncertain – transformation.
3. Partner with trusted technology providers
To keep up with the fast-paced landscape of smart logistics, choose technology partners for the long term. In other words, look not only for IoT partners that can support your company’s growth over time, but also partners that can forge the standards of IoT tracking for logistics together with you.