IoT Transitions Supply Chain from Survive to Thrive

The Internet of Things (IoT) promises big things in the world of consumer goods, but even bigger things in the evolution of the supply chain. An estimated 75 billion devices are expected to be connected to the IoT by 2020. But what does this mean for the supply chain and what advancements are being made to improve its efficiency?

The IoT is allowing the supply chain to thrive and develop enabling greater tracking and monitoring of products and packages to emerge. The IoT is set to completely redesign the process through a multitude of advancements in devices and sensors, leading to a greater visibility of products than ever before and solve one of the biggest challenges for the industry: the remoteness of supply chain partners and delivery operators.   

Recent technological developments have seen the advancement of radio-frequency identification (RFID)-enabled pallets with a combination of sensor devices, providing a wealth of information to distributors and receivers. The pallets can now be tracked through GPS to see where they are in the delivery process and the sensors now monitor weather conditions and traffic jams to influence the transit of the package and better improve the efficiencies through things like reduced fuel costs. 

However, it’s not only packages and parcels the IoT is advancing; the use of connect robots is surging too.  Amazon, for example, is now using Kiva System bots to move merchandise around their warehouses and prepare thousands of online orders for shipment every minute. All-in-all, this is making shipment processing and order completion a faster and more linear process. These developments are essential for companies like Amazon to keep up with the growing demand from customers eager to receive their orders as soon as possible.

Prior to these bots, people were required to process each order; a lengthy process slowed further by human error that resulted in losses for the business. By adopting IoT bots, Amazon is reducing the chance of error and supplying goods faster than ever before. Additionally, robots within the supply chain are also able to predict what products will be ordered and when, and re-order stock automatically once it reaches a critical level; improving the efficiency of the business by cutting down the time taken to collect data and evaluate stock management.

These are just a few advancements we are seeing in the supply chain that are revolutionising how business keep up with supply and demand. There are thousands of developments each year, making this a rapid period of change for the supply chain. Many retailers and marketplaces are evolving with the implementation of these technologies, and this is a trend that will only continue.

Adoption of the IoT in fulfilment and delivery as well as all the latest technology in packaging, parcels, stock management and warehousing will be presented at this year’s eDelivery Expo (EDX), at the NEC Birmingham, UK on the 5th and 6th April.

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