The Internet will disappear. There will be so many IP addresses, so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with, that you won't even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room. — Eric Schmidt, Google chairman in 2015
In the world today, everything is connected and everything is becoming smart. We have smart homes, smart cities, a smart grid and even smart transportation. Soon, a lot of our daily interactions will be with tools that have intelligence, including potentially refrigerators, bottles, food containers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, dishwashers, and more.
Soon, our refrigerators will be smart enough to order and get milk and other essentials delivered right to our door, before we realize we’ve run out. Our cookers will have food cooked and ready for us when we come home from work. And will be able to program and operate all these smart things from our mobile device. In fact, in a sense it’s already happening in a small way with the Amazon Dash button.
Image courtesy: Amazon
Obviously, it is not going to be very long before these capabilities come to the supply chain. There are some really obvious benefits if it did. For example, pallets with radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips, can notify arrival based on global positioning system (GPS) coordinates published from the GPS sensors. Even though advanced shipping notices (ASNs) are available today that tell a receiver when a shipment is arriving, that information is not real time. RFID chips on pallets can be done in real time to let the receivers know immediately that the shipment is at their dock. Workers can be at the ready.
The impact of a supply chain that features ubiquitous connectivity and internet of things (IoT) is huge. At the same time, data collections strategies will have to evolve to really leverage all the potential data from a variety of sources, both in-house and external, in order to optimize monitoring and control.
Basically, data collection is changing big time in this new supply chain that. Data is not only captured through barcode scanning devices, but is also available in multiple forms, both for collection and consumption. This is getting even more complex in the connected world full of IoT components. Consider all the potential collection resources:
- Cameras delivering pictures
- Sensors such a temperature gauges, truck tire sensors, GPS sensors, machinery condition sensors, etc.
- Sensors embedded in mobile devices such as accelerometers, pedometers, temperature sensors, etc.
- Barcode scanners
Data from pictures
A picture is worth a thousand words. We are learning that in freight claim situation, pictures often seal the deal. Pictures help accomplish two major things: faster resolution of issues ownership in a claim situation (since there’s no waiting for an inspector to arrive) and a higher claim recovery higher (since it’s easier to clearly establish fault).
Data from sensors & RFID
IoT helps the supply chain a lot, especially in time and temperature sensitive situations. If a product is damaged by heat, for example, the logistics provider may be liable for the damage. Being able to closely monitor the condition of the goods being transported is valuable.
Data from devices in the supply chain processes
Today, mobile devices have all kinds of sensors, making it is possible to gather data on the number of steps walked by an operator. An abnormal amount of movement lets managers know that process needs to be optimized. Also, ergonomics can be monitored using the accelerometers.
Data from barcode scanning
Barcodes are already deeply embedded in supply chain process. Some scanners offer advanced-scanning capabilities but we’re still waiting for the game-changing idea for this space.
So how has data collection changed in your supply chain? What successes and challenges have you had? Let us know in the comments section below.