Logistics is changing. The old ways of doing things are giving way to new processes powered by emerging technologies. It started with GPS, which allowed drivers and dispatchers to plot the most efficient routes, get a heads up on traffic issues and get around them rather than getting stuck in them, and keep tabs on trucks. The internet itself was a great boon as well, but the data it provided access to was static and often delayed.
Enter the latest game changers in transportation logistics, analytics and the internet of things (IoT). Real-time analytics allows transportation companies to collect and sift through data as it’s generated, and from a variety of data sources. This means companies can get real-time alerts about severe weather warnings, harbor congestion, and inventory discrepancies, and even brewing labor disputes at ports, all of which can affect the supply chain. Being able to access and analyze this data means they can look at historical data collected and stored over time, allowing predictive analytics as well. These are insights that can predict future events –events that can disrupt the supply chain. Real-time and predictive analytics can then work together to help companies do preventive maintenance on vehicles to keep their fleets safe and on the road.
The IoT helps generate the data that companies analyze. This happens through a variety of internet connected devices and sensors. Everything from tablets to wearables to sensors on vehicles, freight and in warehouses. Security systems are a big contributor as well. Companies can add sensors to freight that can detect and alert them when the freight is moved, damaged, or tampered with. Sensors on trucks let dispatchers track fleets and insure they are all on their designated routes. Should a truck suddenly veer off its route or stop moving for an extended period of time, the company is alerted immediately. This has helped reduce theft and keep drivers safe.
Sensors can also reduce waste and expenses associated with perishable freight spoiling before it gets to its destination. Sensors in the refrigerated trailers keep track of the temperature. If it rises beyond or below safe levels they can automatically adjust it, plus alert the driver and the company. This alone could save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and bring fresher produce to our local markets. Today’s supply chain is smarter and more connected than ever.