IoT Devices in Logistics
The Internet of Things (IoT) consists of devices, machines, sensors, and other items connected to each other to allow data to seamlessly move between them. Consumers are often familiar with IoT devices through consumer wearables like fitness trackers and smartwatches, or through other consumer items like smart appliances for your home. Each year more IoT consumer devices hit the market, and people are increasingly aware of the benefits of smart devices in their daily lives.
Consumer products, however, are not the only area where IoT advancements are occurring rapidly. IoT devices are quickly becoming an essential component of supply chains and logistics for many companies and industries. There are numerous types of IoT connected devices that are improving operational efficiency, worker safety, and employee retention in each step of a supply chain. Here we will describe a small selection to give you an idea of the variety of IoT devices available today.
Warehouses are increasingly becoming filled with IoT devices. RFID tags on products and pallets can be used to scan products into and out of the warehouse, allowing for improving inventory tracking. The additional use of RFID scanning gates can make this process automatic, and can even be used to track product location as it moves throughout the warehouse as well as into and out of it. Pressure sensors on racking can help to identify where products are stored, and can even alert to low stock levels when the weight gets low.
If a supply chain has temperature-sensitive products, adequate temperature sensors in both warehouses and vehicles are a necessity. Traditionally a simple thermometer has been used to track the temperature and it had to be manually read. However, IoT temperature sensors are able to monitor temperature consistently and send the temperature data to a control centre, allowing you to get a real-time temperature reading. These devices can ensure your product remains within its necessary temperature range no matter where they are.
Both consumer and commercial vehicles are seeing exciting advances in IoT. Self-driving cars and trucks are increasing in popularity and ability, and will likely play a large role in the industry of the future. Driver-reliant vehicles can still utilize additional IoT devices such as Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) or Routeique's Vehicle Brain to improve the safety and efficiency of drivers and vehicles. These devices vary significantly in what they monitor and record, so companies have the ability to choose the device that works best for them.
Industrial IoT often includes sensors on manufacturing machines to track efficiency, safety, and function. These machines are generally connected to both a control centre and to other machines in the line, making it easy to synchronize production for maximum efficiency. The deceives may also be capable of halting or slowing production in an emergency situation. This connectivity is leading to an increase in fully autonomous production.
Wearables in logistics are also becoming increasingly common. These include things such as location trackers worn by workers to monitor movement throughout the warehouse, helping to improve warehouse and worker ergonomics. Some warehouse workers will also wear wrist-mounted devices to track and execute the picking of orders and other warehouse tasks. Glasses with a heads-up display can also improve a warehouse's operations by providing workers with essential data necessary to complete tasks more efficiently.
There are many other IoT devices not discussed here that are already being used, or are being developed for use in logistics. No doubt new and better IoT devices will be created in the future, improving the entire industry's efficiency and safety.