Sat Jul 29 2023
IoT Applications in Supply Chain Management
IoT, also known as the Internet of Things, has proven to be a transformative technology. By definition, IoT is an intricate network of interconnected devices that use sensors, software, and other technologies that enable devices to communicate and interact with each other.
It has enabled the seamless integration of the physical and digital worlds and has helped organizations achieve unprecedented levels of automation, operational efficiency, and improved workflow.
IoT has already found varied applications across various industry verticals including healthcare, manufacturing, and retail. But now, it is revolutionizing supply chain management at an exceeding rate.
IoT’s Evolution within Supply Chain Sector
Like every other evolving technology, enterprises tried to inculcate IoT into their work processes, including supply chain operations, right from the beginning. Needless to say, it proved to be a game-changer. Manual processes occupied a huge chunk of conventional supply chain management systems.
As to human is err, the conventional system became prone to errors, had inefficiencies, and led to delays. But with IoT, it went through a drastic transformation. The initial stages of IoT adoption in the supply chain concentrated mainly on improving product stocking and tracking.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags and sensors were deployed to monitor asset movement in real time. This allowed businesses to have more transparency and control over their supply chain while reducing errors, theft, and loss.
As this technology advanced, it paved the way for more sophisticated IoT apps in supply chain management. Over time, connected devices and sensors became smaller, better, more affordable, and more power-efficient, which called for its widespread adoption.
More and more enterprises started deploying IoT-enabled sensors to monitor parameters and surroundings. CCTV cameras set a classic example of the same.
Furthermore, IoT-driven data collection led to predictive analytics and better optimization in supply chain management.
Companies started leveraging this data to forecast demand accurately, optimize inventory, and streamline logistics operations. This data-driven approach also led to informed decision-making which in turn resulted in cost reduction and improved customer satisfaction.
IoT is still undergoing vast changes with the incorporation of bleeding-edge technologies like AI and ML. With that, the dynamics of its functions are changing too. Let us now have a better look at how ultra-modern IoT apps are enhancing the overall efficiency of businesses.
Ways in which Modern IoT Apps Impact Supply Chain Management
1. Enhanced Visibility
Today, IoT devices are found in almost every tech-related thing including vehicles, containers, and products. This enables businesses to track the location, condition, and status of their shipment throughout the supply chain.
It offers end-to-end visibility along with real-time data and insights, which leads to better monitoring and control of inventory, and shipments. This improved visibility also proves useful in identifying bottlenecks, reducing stockouts, and improving inventory replenishment, which results in enhanced efficiency of overall supply chain management.
2. Supply Chain Analytics
IoT-generated data gives a wealth of information for carrying out advanced analytics. IoT-enabled devices can monitor the health and performance of equipment, machinery, and vehicles. Companies can analyze this data and get information on key performance indicators like temperature, and energy consumption.
Through this data, IoT apps can forecast maintenance requirements and schedule proactive repairs. This can drastically minimize equipment downtime, and cut down maintenance costs. Additionally, companies can also analyze historical and real-time data to identify patterns, optimize supply chain processes, and make data-driven decisions.
With IoT-driven predictive analysis, businesses can improve on inventory planning, and risk management, and help them in proactive preparation for market fluctuations and changing customer needs.
3. Sustainability and Environmental Monitoring
It might sound surprising but IoT apps can, in fact, contribute to environmental sustainability. IoT can monitor parameters that indicate vehicle health like resource consumption, including fuel, water, and other maintenance materials.
Sensors and connected devices can track data on resource usage, emissions, and waste generation, which helps businesses identify areas for improvement and implement eco-friendly practices within the supply chain.
4. Efficient Logistics and Route Optimization
One of the greatest advantages of modern IoT apps for supply chain management is making logistics more efficient with route optimization. IoT devices can gather data from different sources, including traffic sensors, GPS devices, and weather forecasts.
The data can be used for optimizing logistics and transportation routes. Improvement in route planning and load balancing along with dynamic rerouting can result in reduced transportation costs and shortened delivery time.
5. Facilitation of Supplier Management
IoT apps can facilitate better supplier management by offering data on supplier performance, inventory levels, and delivery schedules. Businesses can use this data to monitor supplier compliance, identify the pain points, and collaborate more effectively, leading to improved supplier relationships and improved resilience.
IoT apps also allow seamless collaboration among supply chain partners which fosters transparency and agility and results in synchronized production and distribution activities.
6. Improved Customer Experience
Yes, you read right. Apart from serving as an effective warehouse inventory management solution, a functional IoT app can also improve overall customer experience.
This technology allows businesses to give their customers better visibility into the status of their orders, estimated delivery times, and the ability to reroute packages as needed. This transparency and responsiveness bring customer satisfaction and breed trust and loyalty in them.
There is no doubt in it that modern IoT apps hold transformative benefits for supply chain management. By providing real-time data and insights, increasing visibility, and enabling predictive analytics, these apps can improve operational efficiency, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction as well.
In short, IoT holds great potential for the supply chain sector and its evolution in this sector is an ongoing one. The integration of IoT with other emerging technologies like AI, ML, and blockchain is opening up new possibilities.
AI-powered algorithms can generate massive amounts of IoT data while blockchain can enhance transparency, traceability, and security across the supply chain, ensuring the authenticity of products and generating trust between stakeholders.
However, in order to achieve all these, one needs to gain a sound knowledge of the proper usage and applications. The best and wise thing is to hire professionals who possess sound knowledge of this technology and have the expertise to design a good app ensuring its optimum utilization.
Author: Albert Smith
Albert Smith is Digital Marketing Manager at Hidden Brains, a leading software development company specializing in mobile & web apps. He provides innovative ways to help tech companies, startups and large enterprises build their brand.