Supply chains are, by their very nature, engaged in a constant struggle against a wide array of forces trying to pull them apart. International restrictions and political unrest, unforeseen delays, disruption and theft, and more. The list goes on. The year 2020 brought with it an entirely new set of challenges as the global pandemic sent shockwaves through supply chains worldwide, and lockdowns disrupted the flow of goods, transport, and people in a way which the industry had not experienced before in recent memory.
Perhaps more so than ever, the logistics and supply chain industries are calling for innovative and smart solutions. Unsurprisingly, the Internet of Things (IoT) is being looked upon as being capable of supplying the answers. Fleet management has already been feted as one of the industry sectors primed for significant transformation by the IoT. From in-vehicle sensors to remote temperature monitoring, and from vehicle condition control to automated loading and unloading, the number of possibilities for change is considerable.
Addressing Doubts over IoT Security
While there’s little doubt about the fact that the Internet of Things is primed and ready to bring about far-ranging transformations, with IoT devices expected to grow by a dramatic number over the next five years, there are potential issues in need of addressing. IT misconfiguration and vulnerability to hacking both remain a problem and continue to hold back a confident and radical uptake of IoT across the supply chain and other sectors.
With this in mind, it’s crucial that the potential benefits and vulnerabilities of the IoT are considered and weighed against one another. Businesses, today more than ever, need to expand their horizons and look to a future of growth and security. This involves improving security policies with sometimes simple tactics that are easy to neglect. The IoT will undoubtedly unlock greater ROI, but only once the argument for its widespread adoption has been made with conviction, bolstered by reliable evidence of safety and security.
Bolstering Supply Chain Security with IoT
The sheer range and potential applications of IoT devices grows on a month by month basis, and the benefits they can bring to logistics security are both evident and indicative of further developments to come. Monitoring sensors, kept within vehicles to control assets, are able to assess cargo conditions and temperatures. External sensors protect vehicles from accidents and alert drivers remotely of break ins, engine issues, and more. This is, however, the mere tip of an impressive and growing iceberg of devices already being integrated into the fleets of vehicles and haulage companies alike.
We’ve already seen the wide uptake of dashcams delivering live feeds to control centers; a perfect example of how smart technology on the ground provides logistics teams with actionable data, covering and securing every step of any given supply chain.
Using such data, drivers can receive customized and tailored training or instructed in ways to help achieve timely deliveries. Fleet managers can use smart technology to remove vehicles from operation, should diagnosis data predict an imminent breakdown. Stolen vehicles can be pinpointed for referral to law enforcement, while customers can have their minds put at ease with data demonstrating how long their goods have been in transit, at what temperature, and when, where, and how they were loaded.
Such accurate insights provide clear and concise value to logistics businesses, and in today’s different supply chain landscape, the benefits of this are more potent and necessary than ever. Streamlined and agile operations, formed of goods and vehicles capable of communicating with each other and providing hard data, are helping create a consistent and reliable picture of the supply chain as a whole. If there is any key argument for the widespread uptake of the IoT in this industry, then this is surely it.
Increasing ROI for Businesses Worldwide
All businesses want to increase efficiency, boost their profit margins, and cut costs. The effective implementation of IoT provides ample opportunities for this to happen and not merely when it comes to haulage. Interconnected devices facilitate the accurate tracking of goods from production to point of purchase. This heightened transparency leads to both customer confidence and loyalty, thus heightening a business’ profile and competitive advantage.
It’s also worth bearing in mind some of the less obvious costs that can be reduced. Worker safety is undoubtedly enhanced by IoT devices, leading to lower insurance premiums and fewer risks. On top of this, engine diagnostics which can predict breakdowns help save huge sums of money on vehicle recovery and repair – prevention is always better, and cheaper, than the cure.
Facilitating a Secure Uptake of the IoT
There’s no question of the fact that cybersecurity remains a pressing issue for industries otherwise primed for adopting the IoT. A lack of confidence is most certainly holding back many businesses from diving headfirst into IoT adoption, which is perfectly understandable given the current and growing sophistication of hackers and cyberattacks across all industries and sectors.
It is clear that efforts need to be made to allay fears and build credible and provable pathways towards complete IoT security confidence. Integrated solutions are being formulated which help both facilitate and automate intelligent decision-making, built with data security at their very core. It is expected that, as per usual, fears and hesitations will be counteracted by the IoT’s ability to drive down costs, increase competitive edges, and decimate wastage, although more widespread use of IoT devices is needed before such data can be delivered to naysayers in a truly convincing fashion.
Renewed Supply Chain Growth in Difficult Times
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it many lessons for businesses across all sectors, all industries, and in every corner of the planet. Perhaps the most pressing of all, however, is the understanding that agility, flexibility, and forward-thinking solutions are the only way to achieve not only survival but growth in a time of crisis.
The IoT is bringing about rapid change. New opportunities for further optimization of vehicles, drivers, loaders, and goods packaging lurk just over the horizon. Conscious awareness of how every aspect of a workforce operates has, quite simply, never been more important than it is today. The IoT, with its potential for seamless interconnectivity and data sharing, is the key to the kind of efficiency and agility that will see the supply chain strengthened through this challenging period and into an uncertain future.