By Matt Isherwood, Managing Director, Fuse
No matter what sector you work in, the chances are there’s some sort of disruption going on. Whether it’s the meteoric rise of the sharing economy big players such as Uber, Air BnB and Deliveroo or the big banks getting twitchy at the FinTech upstarts, everyone is feeling the pressure to innovate.
It’s possible to be disruptive with new processes and approaches to governance, but unsurprisingly it’s the big technological advances that get the most attention. Logistics is no different, with the usual suspects of self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence, drones and 3D printing regularly grabbing the headlines for the past few years.
Yet innovation has been at the heart of the most successful companies for decades, so there’s no denying that you can’t stand still. Companies need to change to remain relevant, and that pace of change has accelerated exponentially over the past decade.
At the heart of all this change is the Internet of Things (IoT), essentially a global network of devices and objects that can connect with one another and exchange data. IoT is driving what is termed the Fourth Industrial Revolution, given its scale and global impact.
But given the internet has been long established, and connected devices have been around for even longer, why has it taken until now for IoT to be the catalyst for all this disruption?
- Multiple options for exchanging data over cellular, satellite and Bluetooth which are accessible and straightforward to implement.
- Chips and sensors. Huge advances in processing speeds, types of sensors and reduction in size allow chips and sensors to be embedded almost anywhere.
- Affordability and prototyping. Where it may previously have been cost-prohibitive, the scope to deploy for certain technologies is much wider. It’s also straightforward to explore the potential of certain tech by creating a quick prototype rather than investing large amounts.
Asset tracking in logistics has always been vital, and IoT now gives us the opportunity to be create huge efficiencies and reduce loss. Accurate location data allows goods to be delivered faster by reducing processing and storage times.
Solutions such as Pathfindr Locate are behind a shift from asset tracking to asset intelligence, by deploying a combination of technologies such as Bluetooth, GPS, mesh networking, optical recognition and RFID.
Asset Intelligence provides next generation insight. For example, embedding a range of sensors in tracking and monitoring hardware enables you to collect real time data on any environmental measure – from temperature to humidity, air quality to acidity.
Applications for this insight differ, depending on where you are in the supply chain, but the potential benefits for quality control and achieving guaranteed delivery deadlines are great.
Another benefit is the optimisation and smoothing of asset utilisation, ensuring you have the correct number of any duplicate fixtures and tools and they are receiving equal usage. It is also possible to provide predictive maintenance alerts, enabling correct servicing before any failure and loss of efficiency.
The goal is to have complete, automated visibility throughout the entire supply chain. IoT now makes this possible with affordable tracking and monitoring hardware that can be efficiently deployed and will communicate and integrate with multiple systems in disparate companies across the globe.
So whilst everyone is already talking about disruption, there is so much more to come for the logistics sector. It can be daunting, and you may not know where to start, but it’s vital to stay up to date with the opportunities created by smart technology. Aim to disrupt rather than be disrupted!