The Internet of Things (IoT) in logistics has been widely adopted in the past decade mostly in the form of tracking devices. But there is more to what IoT can offer to this industry. In this blog, we will tell you what really stands behind the next big buzzword and how this technology is used in day to day operations. 

Internet of Things, (IoT) is a network of physical objects – “things” – that have sensors or software installed in them and can connect to the internet. These sets of things can produce, exchange and transfer data to other devices in the same system without human interaction. Those smart devices can be anything from home appliances to complex industrial tools. If you own a smartwatch that tracks your fitness and keeps reminding you to do those 10K steps a day – that is a small piece of IoT in your everyday life. 

According to Statista, there are about 10 billion connected IoT devices today and the number is expected to increase up to about 22 billion in just about 5 years. It is not surprising that big industries such as manufacturing, banking, telecommunications or transportation try to simplify their work and get devices that will make it easier, less expensive and even safer.

How IoT works

As you might have guessed, implementing IoT is more than asking Alexa to play your favourite song, or to preheat the car without leaving the house before your commute. It can have more complex tasks – especially in logistics.

These internet-connected devices and sensors are attached to the containers, vehicles and sometimes to the cargo itself. After being activated, there are 3 main aspects of how IoT can work:

Data collection: With its environment sensing gadgets and software installed into it, IoT technology starts gathering all kinds of information. It can help track important data such as temperature changes, container door open/close status, late in/out site, energy levels or any unusual activity. Doesn’t matter if it’s a truck, container or warehouse.

Data analysis: After grabbing the data, it is transferred for the reporting mostly in real-time. In some cases, data is automatically analysed and IoT software gives out the results right away. For example, after quickly scanning through the route maps and calculating the best possible ways to save up fuel drivers can make informed decisions on the roads. In other cases, data is simply reported to monitoring teams. 

Forecasting/optimization: All of the information, collected and reported through the IoT is automatically stored. System owners use it for broader researching and forecasting later. And that’s how data becomes the most important part of the process. For example, if the container owner knows every time the container door was opened, it can later track down any case of theft or unauthorized unlock. Or if the inventory software monitors the data and predicts an increase in demand, warehouses prepare accordingly. 

Where and how to use IoT in logistics

Warehousing

warehouse

IoT devices can scan and determine the best layout and configuration of the warehouses even before they are built. This way, warehouse storage space, utilities and the labour force are redistributed to get the maximum of efficiency. 

Some companies, such as Amazon also use robots to retrieve items and make the process even faster. They can lift and move stuff that otherwise would have been too heavy for humans or even forklifts. 

Connected sensors monitor the quantity and quality of goods inside the warehouses. By knowing this you can always know how much stuff you have left. Especially, when you store perishable goods, which might go bad soon if the conditions are not frequently adjusted. This information can be reported directly to the pick-up trucks as well. 

As IoT Now reports, smart warehouses can process inventory data to forecast potential increase or decrease in workload. Like it would be for holiday seasons, for example. So, warehouse managers can plan and prepare ahead. 

Fleet management 

vehicle fleet

There are a couple of ways IoT can power fleets. Data will come from the different gadgets installed in the vehicles. You can have:

  • Engine Data: This is information about the engine condition, fuel levels, tire pressure, washer fluid levels, etc. 
  • Fuel Data: This again involves fuel levels, but also the rate of consumption and how often the tank was filled. 
  • Geographical Data: It is information regarding the locations from a GPS device, vehicles speed and acceleration.
  • Driver behaviour Data: This is more specific information about the driving patterns and how the driver acts – braking, speeding, drifting and so on.
  • Auxiliary Data: This can be any other kind of information coming from another sensor installed within the same system in the vehicle.

All this information is once again stored and analysed to avoid the same mistakes and complications in the future. Also, to reduce the costs with more efficient planning. 

Smart containers 

Smart containers just like any other “smart things” are equipped with internet-connected, environment sensing gadgets. Those devices enable them to control the different aspects of transportation without any human interaction.

For example, smart containers can monitor the temperature or lighting and report the changes. Also automatically adjust it to the predetermined levels, if necessary. 

They can record the door open/close status with the exact time. As well as late in/out the site or any other unusual activities. Learn more interesting details about smart containers in our blog.

However, container tracking sensors are still one of the most widely used IoT tech by freight forwarders and shipping lines. With smart trackers, it is possible to check the container’s location at any given point and be updated on the status of the shipment in real-time. 

You can track the whole container and also trace shipments down to the individual item until it is delivered to the destination point. But despite these new technologies, tracking the shipments still is a tiresome process for many. 

Get real-time tracking data without IoT device

The recent years have proven that logistics companies can gain lots of value from IoT. Shipping companies use IoT already in warehousing, fleet management and container tracking. The importance of IoT in logistics will only grow in the future: companies have already invested billions into the development of IoT solutions in logistics.

But most of the IoT solutions come with switching costs and initial investments for logistics companies. With MyFleet we can offer a great start for shipping companies at low costs and without adding devices. 

Our container tracking solution comes with a dashboard to gain transparency on a high level as well as alerts in case a specific container requires your attention. Click on the banner below to learn more about it – and in case you like it, feel free to get in touch with us. 

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IoT in Logistics: Warehousing, Fleet Management & Smart Containers
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IoT in Logistics: Warehousing, Fleet Management & Smart Containers
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Internet of Things (IoT) in logistics has been widely adopted in the past decade, mostly in the form of tracking devices. But there is more to what IoT can offer to this industry from smart shipping containers to data collection and risk analytics.
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