Smart Logistics: 5 New Ways IoT is Reducing Losses

Manufacturers, retailers, and logistics service providers are constantly looking for ways to reduce costs, cut losses, and become more efficient across various industries, from pharmaceuticals, electronics, and aerospace to defense, food, and automotive.

 

Implementing just-in-time inventory systems has helped many companies within these sectors achieve this, delivering top-quality goods to consumers. The Internet of Things (IoT) has also made great progress in this area, helping companies address revenue-impacting challenges in logistics and supply chain management.

Top 4 Causes of Loss in the Supply Chain

It’s estimated that businesses have been sustaining losses amounting to roughly $225 billion annually due to a lack of visibility into and control over their supply chain and logistics operations. More than 50% of these losses have been attributed to human error.

Has your company experienced losses due to human error or any of the following reasons?

1. Spoilage of goods as a result of incorrect temperature and humidity settings. This mostly happens due to errors in setting transit and storage refrigeration temperature, refrigeration unit malfunction, a lack of temperature control facility, or inadequate packing or storage.

2. Damaged consignments as a result of shock, vibration, and tilt. Packages can suffer damage due to poor roads and route selection, inadequate packaging, unstable stacking of goods, and rough handling of goods during loading and unloading.

3. Process inefficiency as a result of late or failed pick-up. It is common for pick-ups to be rescheduled and delayed due to goods and document misplacement, incorrect scanning, poor planning, miscommunication, incompatible IT systems, missing or incorrect documents, bad weather conditions, and traffic delays.

4. Missing goods as a result of cargo theft. Inadequate theft protection can result in pilferage.

5 New Ways IoT is Reducing Losses and Improving Efficiencies With Smart Logistics

Understanding what went wrong and where can help your company overcome challenges and mitigate losses. An effective logistics tracking system or shipment monitoring system for end-to-end air cargo tracking, shipping container tracking, and full-truckload (FTL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) freight monitoring can help you figure out the exact cause and location of these common yet overwhelming losses.

RedLore offers artificial intelligence (AI) and IoT-based, smart logistics solutions to help you gain complete visibility into your supply chain with asset-level monitoring.

1. Damage Detection and Prevention

Outgoing pallets, boxes, and goods are often dropped during the loading and unloading process, causing excessive vibration. Physical damage due to dropping, vibration, impact, tilting, tampering, and package pilferage is typically detected only after goods reach their final destination. By then, it’s too late to resolve the issue without experiencing revenue loss.

IoT can tell you when and where the damage occurred and what caused it. Trackers and sensors detect mechanical disturbances and can distinguish damage from harmless events. IoT-based pharmaceutical cold chain monitoring can power up the cold chain management process with environmental monitoring and temperature and humidity prediction. This can help you take preventive actions well in advance.

Damage profiling based on shock and vibration frequency analysis can help you identify the underlying problem. You will know if losses were caused due to inappropriate handling when things were taken off of the truck, if the road degradation caused damage, or if the transit route itself was the reason for the loss. These insights can help you avoid similar instances in the future.

2. Touchless Logistics Processes

Manual scanning operations, barcode scanning, RFID scanning, and low-efficiency logistics GPS solutions will soon become things of the past. Touchless logistics processes and supply chains are the future. You may be monitoring your air cargo, ocean freight, or goods at the vehicle or container level. IoT can help you accurately track them at the package or unit level — when they move in and out of warehouses and vehicles. Intelligent IoT solutions can detect when a pallet or package is loaded into a container and when the vehicle it is loaded into moves from a specific location.

Why is asset-level tracking important? Imagine realizing that a pallet was loaded into the wrong container only after the container has left the warehouse or maybe even later. Precious time is lost in getting the vehicle back to the warehouse. If the pallet that needs to be shifted was the first to be loaded into the wrong container, you’re going to lose a few more hours unloading the complete container for that one pallet. The unplanned express transport process is also going to be expensive.

IoT can help. You can monitor the condition, status, and exact location of your freight from the start until it reaches the destination. You also get touchless delivery confirmation and alerts when parts of the shipment are dropped off at the wrong location, helping you mitigate the consequences of human error. During the process:

  • Low-cost tags are affixed to the asset.
  • Every asset’s location — both indoor and outdoor — and state is tracked.
  • Events such as loading, departure, shipment separation, arrival, and unloading are automatically detected, improving process efficiency and facilitating on-time and in-full deliveries.

3. Smart Stock Management

Today, stock management is mostly a manual, labor-intensive, and error-prone operation. The current process involves manual scans to replenish stock at the location and pick stock from the location. At best, businesses utilize a pick-to-light system. Quarterly stock counting and cross-checking are also performed manually. Implementing serialization, first-in, first-out (FIFO) movement, and first-expired, first-out (FEFO) — which is especially important in the case of cold chain logistics — is a huge challenge.

IoT can automate the process to enable real-time tracking and improve accuracy with zero manual intervention. Stock counting and positioning, registering to restock, recording pick-up, serialization, and facilitating FIFO and FEFO can all be automated by attaching tiny IoT tags to your stocking units, boxes, or totes based on the level at which you need accounting. The complete stock management process becomes smart, simple, and precise.

4. Smart Consignment Stock Management

In the case of consignment stocks, suppliers manage their finished product stocks at the customer warehouse, and not at their own location. In such instances, business customers have direct access to supplier stock since it is at their location, while suppliers can manage stocks from their respective locations. Based on a predefined agreement between the supplier and customer, removal of stocking units or individual boxes from the stock is considered consumption of the specific units. This consumption is supposed to trigger ownership change and invoice generation. If done correctly, both the supplier and customer are benefited. Suppliers can manage stocks efficiently while customers can reduce working capital.

Unfortunately, customers sometimes fail to report consumption accurately leading to a mismatch in stock levels and overestimation of inventory. Supplier invoice generation is also delayed, and at times, invoices are not created at all due to missed reporting. Consignment stock management runs into various other challenges, including partial consumption of inventory units and stock obsolescence.

IoT can transform the process with reusable tags integrated into the stocking units. These tags or IoT sensors detect box-opening or physical removal of units from the warehouse, automatically triggering consumption. In this manner, stock management and reporting are error-free, and suppliers can generate invoices for consumed goods accurately.

5. Resource Management

IoT can help manage on-site resources — people, capital assets, and tools, including power tools such as forklifts. The technology tracks the location and usage patterns of these resources in real-time. This, in turn, can facilitate predictive asset maintenance. As an example, if a tool requires maintenance after 200 hours of use, IoT devices installed on the machine can effectively keep track of actual use and send an alert when the machine is due for maintenance.

There are several other use cases, including man-down detection, distress calling functionality via panic buttons on employee badges, dwell-time monitoring, cold chain storage monitoring, and spare parts management.

Smart Technology Products That Are Redefining Logistics and Supply Chain Management

RedLore offers ready-to-use IoT and AI-based solutions to help you track the location and health of your air cargo, shipments, inventory, cold storage, personnel, and more. These solutions, comprising both IoT hardware devices and control tower software, can seamlessly integrate with each other and with your existing enterprise systems. Examples include:

  • Smart tags and AI-powered smart sensors are attached to the goods to monitor location, temperature, movement, excessive vibrations, shock, tampering, and tilting, and predict unfavorable events.
  • Smart gateways offering complete, real-time visibility into warehouse storage and operations.
  • A central logistics engine detecting and predicting undesirable events, enabling you to take preventive action.‌
  • Dashboards providing detailed insights, event predictions, alerts, and more. Alternatively connect your existing IT platform directly to the logistics engine.‌

Together, these solutions eliminate the consequences of manual error and oversight with touchless, end-to-end visibility into the supply chain.

Get Started

Ready to visualize your assets and team in real-time? With RedLore’s IoT and AI smart logistics solutions, you can gain complete visibility into your logistics and supply chain operations, in transit and at the warehouse. Multi-modal supply chain transparency allows you to sense events when and where they take place. Notifications alert you in case something needs attention. Real-time temperature and condition monitoring help mitigate supply chain losses.

Pick a smart solution and begin optimizing your logistics and supply chain management process or book a demo to learn more. If you are not sure what solution will work best for your business, contact RedLore to discuss your application.