Among the buzzwords of today, the popularity of IoT is definitely up there with all sorts of predictions about how many billions the market will grow to by 2020. When it comes to improving logistics, though, IoT is already making a measurable difference. That’s why the companies in the logistics arena are turning to software that capitalizes on the real-time capabilities of IoT.
Earlier this year, AT&T and Eye for Transport (EfT) published their 2016 research findings in a report called The Internet of Things (IoT) in Supply Chain and Logistics. Fifty-nine percent of its 600 respondents identified as logistics providers. Among all respondents, 41% said they already had an IoT solution in place and 23% were planning an IoT strategy. The overwhelming majority, about four out of five, look for IoT solutions for location information.
Location information is of such concern because so much depends on knowing where the cargo in question is at a particular time. That frictionless stream of data allows for more accurate predictions about time of delivery and precludes the need for a person to have to manually check- in – either by calling the driver or having the driver call or text to let their managers know where they are.
As an exemplar of this trend of turning to IoT for location information for logistics, Dupré Logistics announced that it had implemented FourKites’ real-time tracking platform to improves its supply chain visibility and seen positive results in just a few months.
Dave Walker, FourKites chief revenue officer, summed it up as follows, “Dupré very quickly became a FourKites’ success story: we quickly on-boarded all of their trucks with ELD devices and their dashboard map was active with live loads, each with its own robust profile of shareable and reportable information.”
Dupré’s vice president of SCS, Mike Weindel, explained how the platform improves relationships with its customers: “Everyone here has accurate tracking information and digital logs, so there’s no calling the drivers and distracting them with ETA requests, and we can use FourKites delay notifications to quickly correct and minimize exceptions.”
As FourKites’ location data is updated every 15 minutes and takes into accounts actual conditions like traffic and weather, it allows Dupré to come up with a much more accurate ETA to pass on to their shipping and receiving customers. Weindel find that increases efficiency not just by cutting down on their own people having to contact the drivers manually but by eliminating the need for their customers to call in to check on the status of something in transit.
In addition to working out a better relationship with existing customers, Weindel says it can bring in new customers as their “account team can actually use it as a sales tool.” Both retaining old customers and winning new ones is essential in a highly competitive market as it demonstrates a clear advantage for customers who go with Dupré rather than another provider.
Getting the right data at the right time can make all the difference in logistics and in the success of a business. Back in 2011Marc Andreessen published an essay article in the Wall Street Journal entitled Why Software Is Eating the World. He pointed out the centrality of software in working through the logistics of supply chains:
Today's leading real-world retailer, Wal-Mart, uses software to power its logistics and distribution capabilities, which it has used to crush its competition. Likewise for FedEx, which is best thought of as a software network that happens to have trucks, planes and distribution hubs attached. And the success or failure of airlines today and in the future hinges on their ability to price tickets and optimize routes and yields correctly—with software.
This is even more true today with the growth of IoT. Any business that can capitalize on it to improve its distribution and communication with customers about where and when would be wise to do so.