Transport & Logistics (T&L) as a function lies at the center of the business ecosystem. Enabling and constantly improving the web that connects businesses with other businesses and end-users. As an industry, it is a significant contributor to economic development and growth, globally. When we look at the middle east, specifically UAE, T&L has exposure to unique opportunities and challenges. The geography and natural terrain of this region present a certain set of limitations that need to be addressed to efficiently manage logistics. This includes, but is not limited to, desert terrain and temperatures, absence of extensive railway network, and absence of telecom networks in certain areas.
The unique strength of this region lies in its geographic location as well. The strategically located seaports and road networks that connect Asia and Europe offer a golden opportunity for the T&L industry. Being aware of its existing challenges and potential gains, this industry has proactively adopted technologies that can help them address the former and achieve the latter. Logistics is one of the few industries that has rapidly incorporated and invested heavily in various disruptive technologies. These technologies are pushing boundaries and attempting to address a wide variety of roadblocks faced by businesses – Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Machine Learning, IIoT, among others.
The interest in and adoption of Industrial IoT has spread like wildfire within the T&L sector as this versatile technology has the potential to transform the entire end-to-end logistics process chain. We are already witnessing promising results shared by early adopters. Why has IIoT gained so much popularity so quickly within this sector? Here are some areas where businesses see maximum gain when IIoT solutions are implemented:
Fleet Management and Optimization:
The fleet aspect of the logistics process chain is of primary importance as the whole industry is built around the purpose of transporting goods from one point to another. This is also an area where huge cost efficiency can come into play if managed properly. With the help of IIoT, businesses can not only better utilize their existing fleet but can cut significant spend by fleet allocation, route planning, driver behavior management, fuel optimization, and more. These features and data studies allow managers to promptly allocate the right sized vehicle (based on goods) to be matched to the most efficient driver (knowledge of route / area / vehicle in use) designated on the quickest route to the endpoint. This might sound simple however, it is based on consistently studying various data sets and implementing findings in various areas. When done over a long period of time, the direct impact can be seen in the bottom-line.
Goods Integrity and Movement:
Businesses can face heavy monetary losses and / or damage of trust, relationship with customers in case of tampering and theft of goods or any other issue caused during transit of goods. Keeping control over security and integrity of goods is necessary for all logistics companies. With a combination of secure locks, sophisticated sensors and GPS tracking, one has real-time, in-depth information of goods on the move (or in the warehouse) flashing on their desktops. A few simple clicks can equip you with details regarding vehicle coordinates, lock status (open / locked / tampering alerts), the temperature inside the vehicle (for cold storage), driver identification, and vehicle health. In case of vehicle breakdown or goods tampering or any other unforeseen incident, businesses can rapidly response and save time, cost, and trust with customers.
IoT solutions can be used for monitoring inventory, products in stock, without having to manually keep count or stock take. With simple solutions, like the use of RFID readers, businesses can keep real-time track of exact type products and their quantities in warehouse or storage. Even with products that require reefer storage, one can monitor temperatures and humidity remotely. This data helps maintain adequate stock and saves businesses from blocking funds in over-stocking and storage space. Stock alerts and notifications can assist with timely procurement and dispatch of goods. This allows businesses to do efficient resource management with minimum operational costs and product / material wastage.
Logistics is an umbrella term for a chain of functions including storage, handling, packaging, inventory, transportation, and more. To fulfill these functions, most logistics companies either own or lease a variety of equipment and vehicles. Maintenance of this equipment and fleet can be cost-intensive. However much bigger bills can be incurred in case of breakdown, failure or damage of these assets. IoT addresses this through monitoring asset health in real-time and issuing alerts and notifications regarding the health of equipment and fleet. Businesses can proactively plan maintenance and prevent equipment-related problems. This can save businesses major costs in purchasing new equipment and delay in processes due to breakdown and failure of machinery due to human negligence.
By implementing IoT at all points of the entire cycle of end-to-end goods management, companies can not only save significant costs but also bring down their carbon footprint. Through tracking every step of operations businesses can reduce wastage of resources – be it energy, fuel, asset, raw-material, manpower, or any other. Besides, businesses can consistently optimize utilization of existing resources, hence, efficiently managing their consumption. This can greatly impact the carbon footprint of a business. Businesses should consider adopting an environment-conscious approach and work towards more eco-friendly operations.
These are a few key benefits that businesses can achieve through implementing IIoT solutions. There are many other positives that this technology offers. Logistics companies can run IoT pilot trials on a small scale to see these benefits and slowly expand the implementation across the entire chain. Far greater scope and results can be seen when entire eco-systems of manufacturers, suppliers, logistics, and end-user are all connected via a network of IoT solutions. This results in holistic optimization of operations and efficient utilization of resource with minimum wastage, maximum output, and reduced negative impact on the environment. Additionally, when IoT is combined with AI, Blockchain, Machine Learning, its impact can further multiply and become more potent.
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