Tracking and Visibility for supply chains through IoT application


The Internet of Things (IoT) is a common sight in offices and homes. Users employ IoT for various applications turning on the lights, controlling ambient temperatures, place online grocery orders, etc. The most efficient use of IoT is in the area of supply chain operations and management. IoT makes the best use of available technologies, bringing them together to render all stakeholders an integrated solution.

As per the data on Statista for the year 2017 and 2018, the most significant issue with any supply chain was visibility. And another striking data point is that the number of IoT devices used across the world has already exceeded by 23 Billion. Visibility in a supply chain means that the stakeholders are able to control the supply chain from a vantage point. It is a tower technology solution that works on data being generated at various points, thus leading to the creation of meaningful insights. This allows the operators to have an extensive view of the overall supply chain and enable them to take suitable actions.

What makes IoT the perfect fit for the supply chain is the fact that supply chains have several variables at each step. Every step is pretty dynamic, even involving the actual movement of goods. Stakeholders like the logistics providers, suppliers, brokers, etc., are all equally involved in handling critical paths at their respective levels. They all work together through the production, packaging, and shipping of the items. IoT is a common integrating factor that brings the ecosystem together and keeps it connected.

The idea is to locate the black holes across the chain and bring them into visibility ambit. Visibility levels are different for ocean carriers in comparison to LTL shipments. Ocean carriers have a high level of sophistication in their update channels. Road carriers need to bridge a significant gap as there are lot many gaps in capabilities. Road cartage is much more responsive to the consumer marketplace, hence needs to be agile in their approach. And IoT enabled tech can definitely bring in a lot of visibility. Connectivity and data feeds can take road transportation to the next level and lead to a financial impact.

Roles of stakeholders in the supply chain:
  1. Transport agent – They would like to apply the least effort, expect a lot of flexibility from the shipping line, and minimize the costs involved. They also would want to be updated with GPS IoT tracking devices for shipment. Hence the status can easily be shared through information for their customers.
  2. Manufacturer or producer – They want to make sure that the movement is smooth, keeping costs low, with minimal involvement. Want to be kept informed as and when there are any delays. Want to make sure that their product is held under the requisite conditions like temperature and humidity.
  3. Transporter, logistics company or shipping line – They simply want to make sure of optimum utilization of their resources. Would like to ensure timely maintenance of vehicles to avoid delays and run at full capacity. Keep the costs low, improve turnaround times for vehicles. Have real-time updates about shipments using the GPS IoT tracking devices for shipment. They stand to be informed almost immediately whenever there are issues.
What is the biggest challenge you are facing in your supply chain?

The meaning of visibility for stakeholders:

  • Location updates
  • Movement through the warehouse stages
  • Costing involved
  • Temperature variances
  • Humidity variances
  • Delivery updates
  • POD documentation
  • Historic movements traceability

These products champion the temperature controlled solutions through their shipment real time visibility platform and technologies. The systems promptly send out notifications for the following events:

  • Door opening or closing
  • Any change in temperature that breaches the set parameters
  • Cargo temperature outside set parameters
  • Event of shock or a fall
  • Any event of Tilting
  • Changes in humidity that breaches the set parameters
  • And changes in route or location co-ordinates outside the set parameters

Why IoT devices core over conventional data loggers

1) Real-time updates vs data log available after shipment

The conventional data loggers monitor the changes in an attribute like temperatures but then do not take any action if the variance goes beyond acceptable limits. The same goes for the other cases where the product undergoes a change in humidity and inside shocks during transit. As the stakeholders do not know the changes, they are in no condition to take proactive steps. Therefore data loggers have lived their life of service and are going to be taken over by advanced IoT enabled devices. IoT devices for shipment visibility including the Eelink DB01 Bluetooth beacon.

The IoT devices monitor changes in temperature, humidity, or shocks and promptly send out alarm notifications to inform stakeholders. Nearest responsible person being the driver, they can take immediate action and avoid loss of product value. Disruptions can be handled in time and avoid any negative outcome to the business operations as well as customer satisfaction levels.

2) Almost immediate data delivery vs delayed data availability

Conventional data logging technology does not allow for any real-time communication from the device to external resources. The collected data remains stored locally and can only be physically accessed using the wired connections to the laptop or the network. Also, there is no availability of analysis capabilities on the device. Hence the analysis of stored data is not done on the go.

IoT devices communicate the changes in parameters almost immediately and even process part of it locally. With IoT-enabled devices, the data can be routed to the stakeholders for quick and easy access. They can even change the parameters on the go. The cloud-based user dashboards can be updated automatically and in real-time. There really is no need to pull out data manually and send in parts by email. These are ensured with IoT devices for shipment visibility.

3) Automatic real-time data transfers vs conventional physical extraction

When you work with a data logger, you have to deploy resources to manually go to each shipment and extract data. You may also need a custom proprietary software to export the extracted data to bring it out in a readable form. Some data loggers even need proprietary data cables to read data from the logger. This can be difficult and tedious when the materials being transported are sensitive to temperature and humidity changes. These include fruits, vegetables, processed foods, or even pharmaceuticals.

With IoT devices, the data transfer to the cloud based servers is instant. Not only does the IoT device monitor for change in parameters, it also promptly sends out notifications in case of variance. Thus the system is hands-free as well as hassle-free. Even the customers can be shared access to this real-time data in order to strengthen the business relationship.

4) Differentiation in Analytics

The very essence of data logger technology is delayed data delivery. As such, the data is partly stale when compared to IoT devices. And evidently, there is no capability of performing predictive analysis. However, with IoT the software connects in real-time with cloud based network to generate intelligent reports. These cover aspects of shipment like performance management as well as quality metrics.

We have the solutions for your search of IoT device for thermal shipping solutions. We provide IoT devices as well as integrated solutions for easy tracking and visibility of your temperature sensitive shipments. They work with communications technologies used around the globe. Hence you are sure to stay updated about status of your shipments moving anywhere in the world.

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