Amit Samsukha, Director & CTO at EmizenTech, is an eCommerce consultant, proficient at improvising IT infrastructure.
With the Internet of Things (IoT), the world is undergoing a technological revolution. One of the industries that IoT has influenced immensely is logistics, with the global IoT in logistics market size valued at $34 billion in 2019. Other estimates expect the industry will be valued at $63.7 billion by 2026 with a CAGR of about 12.4%.
In this article, I will look at the ways that IoT should continue to affect the logistics industry as well as the challenges and factors that could impact its continued growth.
Key Use Cases Of IoT-Enabled Logistics
In order to understand where IoT is heading for the logistics industry, let’s first look at a few of its current applications:
1. Shipments Tracking And Monitoring
Wireless devices—such as radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, eSIM and global positioning system (GPS) sensors—offer logistics companies the ability to track shipments’ location and to monitor container temperature, relative humidity and other real-time conditions. With IoT technology, AI algorithms can process this data to assist route management and improve security, further predicting emerging issues, such as maintenance, to prevent problems.
2. Inventory Management
IoT technology can also be used to automate inventory management. For example, logistics companies can place RFID tags on items shelved in warehouses to track the products’ location and inventory levels in real time. With the automatically obtained data on inventory levels from smart shelves and IoT sensors, companies can improve forecasting and optimize stock levels.
3. Fleet Management
IoT-enabled fleet management can offer real-time vehicle location, trailer or truck weight management, vehicle current status and speed. This way, businesses can optimize routes and scheduling, help diminish idling and improve fleet performance. These solutions can help reduce fuel costs and assist in monitoring drivers’ for unsafe driving practices.
4. Predictive Maintenance
The data collected from IoT devices, like connected sensors, can help identify patterns, automatically predict the failures in equipment and schedule maintenance.
Current Challenges And Possible Resolutions
Even with these benefits, the adoption of IoT in the logistics industry faces several challenges. Let’s look at a few of them and the possible resolutions to these obstacles:
With the increasing usage of sensors and other connected devices in a system, the accumulated data would demand detailed analysis and processing. In the absence of scalable infrastructure, it may hamper data management. A scalable and flexible infrastructure that can handle surging data volume and adapt to changing system needs might help resolve this issue.
IoT devices and networks are prone to cyberattacks, which can lead to the loss of data, among other issues. Through thorough security assessments and robust security measures, though, businesses should be able to protect their data and prevent unauthorized access.
With current logistics systems, IoT device or system integration may result in poor outcomes because of improper planning and prior testing. Before integrating IoT with existing logistics systems, proper planning and integration testing is essential for the system to perform seamlessly.
4. Staff Skills
As IoT implementation leads to various modifications in the system, employees may not find it easy to adapt to those complex changes. A skilled staff with technical knowledge is necessary to quickly adapt to the revamped workflow. For this reason, employee training is a must.
5. Data Quality
Data accumulated from IoT devices help make informed decisions and predictions, but invalid or inaccurate data can lead businesses to huge losses. Data-quality checks and validation processes can help ensure the gathered data is reliable and accurate.
Expected Forthcoming Developments That May Have Significant Impact
Finally, there are several technologies being developed in tandem with IoT technology that could impact their adoption. Let’s look at five of them and how they could reshape the logistics industry:
1. 5G And Low-Latency Network
IoT devices require a strong internet connection. The deployment of low-latency 5G networks may improve the connectivity and speed of IoT devices, increasing reliability and efficiency.
2. Augmented Reality (AR)
With AR technology, IoT can provide real-time information and guidance to logistics workers, and this technology could result in reduced errors and improved inventory accuracy.
3. Autonomous Vehicles And Drones
Moreover, the invention of IoT-powered drones and autonomous vehicles can increase the speed and efficiency of logistics operations. If programmed correctly, these vehicles and drones may navigate to particular locations autonomously while avoiding obstacles and helping in decision-making based on accumulated real-time sensor data.
Blockchain technology can benefit the IoT-enabled logistics industry by creating a decentralized and secure ledger of every data point, such as inventory and shipping information, improving efficiency and transparency in logistics operations.
5. Smart Warehouse And Logistics Centers
IoT plays a vital role in automating warehouse operations and optimizing resources and space utilization. By using accumulated analytics data, smart warehouses and logistics centers can improve forecasting and inventory management.
Based on the growth expected for IoT in the logistics industry, it will likely be crucial for every player in the space to follow these trends and adopt these technologies as a baseline for keeping up with the competition.
By understanding the current technologies, the challenges to adoption and future technological trends, leaders in the logistics industry should give themselves the ability to compete, and perhaps even the upper hand, in guiding their companies through the ever-changing technological climate.
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