By Antoinette Hodes, a Check Point Global Solutions Architect and Evangelist with the Check Point Office of the CTO.

IoT is reshaping the way that businesses navigate the complexities of supply chain management. In today’s interconnected world, where speed, accuracy and sustainability are immensely important, traditional operational modalities are no longer sufficient.

To start, let’s take a look at fleet management. Fleet management refers to the process of overseeing, coordinating and managing an organization’s fleet of vehicles — think trucks, vans, cars, ships or even aircraft — to ensure efficient and effective operations.

Now, combine fleet management with smart transportation and logistics. Imagine that a pallet, parcel, and vehicle are infused with intelligence, constantly communicating their whereabouts, condition and performance — all in real-time. This allows organizations to make well informed decisions based on data-driven insights provided by internet connected goods and an internet connected fleet. We are in the era of the “smart supply chain”.

Instant efficiency at your fingertips

IoT has revolutionized fleet management, bringing efficiency and control to logistics operations. By equipping assets like that pallet, parcel or vehicle with smart sensors and connectivity, businesses can now monitor and manage their fleets and goods in real-time.

With smart fleet management, organizations can track vehicle locations and fuel consumption, optimize routes, and manage driver performance. Further, IoT offers enhanced safety by providing alerts about specific driver behaviors, resulting in improved driver safety and an overall reduction in accidents. Plus, maintenance optimization will yield reduced downtime and increased vehicle lifespan. IoT-powered fleet management systems have become instrumental in enhancing organizational productivity and in reducing costs.

The road to smart logistics

Gone are the days when people mistakenly lost track of assets. With IoT-enabled asset tracking, businesses can keep a watchful eye on valuable goods as they move through the supply chain. Another benefit of attaching smart sensors to shipments is that companies can monitor factors like temperature, humidity, condition, location and utilization in real-time. Think of so-called ‘cold chain’ management; IoT sensors monitoring refrigerated containers and trucks. IoT sensors ensure the integrity of perishable goods, reducing spoilage and making sure that organizations comply with food safety standards.

Another huge benefit of smart logistics consists of alert notifications from the asset itself. Let’s use the example of smart, internet connected container. It can send alerts about unauthorized movement (i.e. theft).

Supply chain optimization drives business excellence

IoT is also providing data analytics and actionable insights around inventory levels. Armed with this information, organizations can make well informed decisions, minimize out-of-stock events and limit overstock situations.

Predictive analytics improves the overall supply chain. An example of this is warehouse automation via robotics, which reduces labor costs and minimizes errors in tasks like inventory management, order picking and packaging. Beyond that, IoT empowers organizations to meet customer demands faster and more effectively than they would be able to otherwise.

The key to operational reliability, predictive maintenance

Unplanned downtime can be a logistics nightmare. IoT and internet connected assets (fleet, machinery and goods) give organizations the opportunity to collect and analyze data. With the corresponding knowledge, organizations can proactively identify potential maintenance issues before they escalate into costly breakdowns. Real-time monitoring of engine performance, tire pressure, engine data and other critical parameters allow for timely maintenance interventions.

Smart logistics and transport

Logistics 2.0, IoT’s smart way forward

Here are some specific examples of how IoT is being used in the logistics and transportation sector:

  • Maersk implements IoT sensors and predictive analytics for fleet management. By collecting data on engine performance, fuel consumption, and other metrics in real-time, Maersk can anticipate maintenance needs and schedule preventive measures to minimize downtime and reduce costs.
  • UPS is using IoT to track the location of its delivery trucks in real-time. This information is used to optimize the delivery routes and reduce fuel costs.
  • FedEx is using IoT to track the temperature of its packages in transit. This information is used to ensure that the packages are not damaged during shipping. More information here.
  • DHL is using real-time inventory tracking to monitor the movement of goods throughout the supply chain, enabling precise tracking of stock levels and locations.
  • The Port of Los Angeles is using IoT to track the movement of cargo ships. This information is used to improve the efficiency of the port operations.
  • Amazon employs IoT-enabled warehouse management systems for smart logistics. These smart warehousing solutions utilize automated guided vehicles (AGVs), drones, sensors and cameras to optimize storage space, monitor inventory levels and streamline operations, ensuring efficient order fulfillment.

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