What do fitness wearables, trucking companies, smart lighting, and automated warehouses all have in common? They’re part of the growing Internet of Things (IoT).

If you’re not yet familiar with the Internet of Things, this Forbes article offers a great overview. Essentially, it means that we can connect anything to the internet, and it has the power to transform nearly every aspect of how we live and work. If we can use technology to check the weather, track our heart rates and keep office lighting at optimal levels, you’d better believe the IoT has the power to transform supply chains.

An article in Inbound Logistics highlights six key ways the IoT is revolutionizing supply chains. They are:

  • Reducing asset loss
  • Saving fuel costs
  • Ensuring temperature stability
  • Managing warehouse stock
  • Gaining user insight
  • Creating fleet efficiencies

Let’s explore each in more detail to understand specific ways the the Internet of Things is revolutionizing supply chains.

Reduce asset loss

If materials of all shapes and sizes are connected to the internet (like Find My iPhone), then it’s much more likely that you’ll know where they are and can be alerted to small deviations before they become big problems. As a small-scale example, think of car systems now that alert drivers to changes in tire pressure or oil levels. Similar systems may protect assets in your business or warehouse from theft or damage.

Save fuel costs

Personal apps, like Waze, already let drivers know about traffic conditions and automatically redirect drivers to quicker routes. What’s to say technology can’t also give information on routes, traffic patterns, or even weather conditions that could affect fuel consumption? GPS devices on vehicles, or even on individual pallets, may eventually do all that, or even provide enough historical data to completely change a fleet’s drive times.

Ensure temperature stability

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization reports that about one-third of food perishes while in transit. Thirty-three percent! From a business perspective, that’s a tremendous financial loss, and it’s tragic from a humanitarian aspect, too. Simply being able to monitor and maintain more stable temperatures during transit means that more goods will arrive at their destinations safely and on time. If you’ve ever traveled a highway in Dallas in August or in Michigan in January, you know how hard it can be to maintain a proper, steady temperature in your own car, much less a truck trailer or train car.

Managing warehouse stock

In Does your Supply Chain Need a Makeover?, we touched on the idea of a substandard inventory management system as an underlying problem in supply chain management. The IoT goes beyond scanning bar codes to potentially providing more accurate, more timely information on the placement and inventory levels of every single item in stock.

Gaining user insight

Particularly in retail settings, the IoT lets business get a glimpse into consumer behaviors, both while in stores and while they’re using products. Let’s revisit a car example here. If you use satellite radio, that provider, and your car manufacturer, more than likely know or can infer quite a lot about you. They know what kind of car you drive, what kind of music you like, when you tune in,  – even if you have kids (because, really, how many adults are listening to KidzBop?). Similarly, apps on our phones are transmitting all kinds of information about our habits, all the time, and embedded sensors in all manner of products will do the same. Being able to access and analyze so much information can transform the way companies create, purchase and deliver materials through their supply chains.

Create fleet efficiencies

Similar to watching traffic patterns and driver behaviors to save on fuel, the IoT can better link up freight with transportation, to cut down on deadhead miles. According to the National Private Truck Council, 28 percent of truck miles are deadhead miles!

These examples alone are illustrative of the fact that the Internet of Things has the power to revolutionize supply chains, and its reach will surely extend into areas we haven’t yet imagined.

You can count on Accuserv to stay on top of supply chain trends and bring new technologies into our mix of unlimited solutions for your business.