How IoT will transform the future of the supply chain

Behind every
successful enterprise, there is Supply Chain Management.

aforementioned statement is purposely twisted from its original form to
emphasise how supply chain management, or SCM, can make or break a business.

SCM, as we
all know, is the management of providing the right product, at the right time,
at the right place and at the right cost to the consumer. This continued
process of goods and services has its own set of challenges like delays in
transportation, sluggishly monitoring of cargoes, and errors in operations,
theft, and some handful more.

No matter
how big or small a business is, all those problematic factors can ultimately
put profits at risk and increase cost pressure. This is especially in the case
of perishables – according to an IoT@Intel article, a full 30% of all
perishable produce never make it all the way from the farm to the table. This
kind of food wastage can easily be averted today by means of effective supply
chain tracking tools and the power of logistics 4.0, which leverages edge
computing and (Internet of Things) IoT to provide real-time automated, sense-and-respond
feedback systems.

Note: Since we are discussing
perishables as an example, we will further maintain our focus on how IoT is
actually transforming the entire food supply chain and discuss its impact on
five levels, namely farming, production and warehouse management, food safety,
logistics and consumer-based applications.


Farmers are
using drones to gather data on crop growth, monitoring weather patterns, and a
controlled usage of water and energy on the field. They are also using
predictive analytics to understand the quality of the soil and air,
expenditures on labour and equipment in order to make informed decisions.

Production and warehouse management

Sensors are
employed by food manufacturing companies to strengthen quality control,
monitoring worker productivity, streamlining production by leveraging real-time
analytics, tracking and refilling inventory, and analysing labour costs.

In the future,
machines with predictive maintenance capabilities could repair their malfunctions
automatically, even before something goes wrong. It is believed that such
future IoT applications could possibly do away with people from the production

Food safety

contamination and wastage has always been a concern in the logistics arena. In
order to keep these problems at bay, incorporating network-connected
temperature and humidity sensors in the warehouse allows first-hand monitoring
of food containers, trucks, and trigger alerts, which prevents damage or
replacement of bad products way before they reach the consumers.     

Shippers can
also diagnose problems like identifying the origins of contamination and then
quickly restoring them with the help of such devices. Moreover, newer
applications help shippers comply with FSMA requirements, pre-loaded HACCP
checklists, inspection reminders, and automated reporting.


IoT is
undoubtedly assisting companies change their approach of handling SCM.

instance, bringing unprecedented visibility in the process by integrating
advanced RFID trackers to monitor and control temperature, tracking product
location with the help of GPS, enhancing routes by analysing data from weather
patterns, keeping a check on driving and traffic conditions in real-time,
automate shipping and delivery processes, etc.

collecting this data, shippers are able to reckon performance in the serving
areas, understand consumer behaviour, and make decisions to reduce deadhead
miles in truck fleets.

Consumer applications

barcodes and QR scanners are already being used by consumers to retrieve
product information and other details that influence their buying decisions.
Consumers are also using scan-and-go applications on their smartphones to scan
barcodes of food products in their shopping carts. A final bill of their shopping
automatically charges their credit/debit cards as they exit the store, without
having to bother about waiting in the checkout queue.

there are also those consumers who never travel to grocery stores because they
are using IoE-enabled refrigerators and smart pantries that allow them to
automatically order items.

Relevant examples

In 2017,
Florida-based food supply chain start-up Verigo had introduced a new IoT
quality analysis platform to improve freshness and reduce wastage of fresh
produce in transit. [1]

brewing company Rouge Ales has employed advanced supply chain tracking tools
and management to gather data on temperature and humidity on its shipments at
every stage between the company’s hop yard and the brewery. [2]

pasta company Barilla uses smart labels on their product packaging to give
consumers full visibility into their supply chain. [3]

The future

IoT seems to
be an ever-expanding world, presenting with unlimited opportunities for
organisations to augment their competitive advantage via linking sensors,
advanced analytics, embedded intelligence, and human expertise.

In the
future, supply chains joining the IoT club will distinguish themselves from
those who are still agnostic and behind the evolving race.





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Original article: How IoT will transform the future of the supply chain
Author: IoTNews