The supply chain and logistics network has undergone massive changes especially with the advent of e-commerce as an alternative to brick-and-mortar stores. Now, customers— with just a few clicks of the mouse— can order products from just about anywhere and still have the expectation of a smooth and timely delivery. Millions of products are being ordered daily, so the freight logistics industry must continually adapt to keep up with tremendous volumes. Automation coupled with the implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) is the real game-changer. Logistics networks can be optimized and accelerated when IoT technology is used to create a connected network.
Connectivity in the Distribution and Logistics Network
One of the main causes of distribution network inefficiencies is the lack of real-time communication which affects the agility and adaptability of the entire network. The solution is a connected logistics network. All the key components in logistics can be connected to each other and the entire system using IoT technology. This includes packages, parcels, trucks, and warehouse equipment such as forklifts, sorters, and loaders. Using sensors and RFID technology, it is possible to create smart devices that can be tracked and can communicate and respond.
Smart devices eliminate the need for scanning. They also reduce errors in sorting and loading. There are less manual processes which can also eliminate human error and the risk of injury, especially in the warehouse. Clear communication quickens processes. For this to be possible, there must a reliable mobile network. Another concern in the IoT is the security of the network, and this must be safeguarded with measures such as end-to-end encryption and proactive monitoring.
Benefits of Automation
A connected network makes the entire logistics system more agile and efficient. It also makes automation possible and even better. With a smart network of devices and packages and the supporting technology for automation, the logistics network can almost run on its own within reason. Automation can be and is being implemented in warehouses so that forklifts can operate unmanned. They know what they must pick, have the exact coordinates of the package, and know where it must go. Once the infrastructure for connectivity is in place, it is as easy to scale up the network as connecting more sensors. Automation also allows more volume to be processed to keep up with increasing demands.
An automated logistics network that is enabled by IoT technology makes the entire chain more efficient. For the end user and all the different stages of the supply chain, the benefits are numerous. Customers are better able to track packages. Communication and delivery are more dependable. Bottlenecks in the network are more easily identified and eliminated.