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Internet of Things Supply Chain: A Hidden Chain of Business Value

Overcome fears of implementing IoT for supply chain management by discovering the true business value of this technology

Updated: May 10, 2024 8 mins read Published: April 08, 2021

What is the first question every entrepreneur should ask to run a successful business? How can I get more value from what I’m doing, right? This value can be in the form of money, customer satisfaction, sustainability, or efficiency.

Focusing on a specific supply chain and logistics business, you should look for value in the darkest corners of your vehicles, under the cockpit, and inside shipping containers. Dive deep into the problems that will cause you to lose money. IoT in supply chain and logistics can help you find hidden value.

IoT sensors around and inside your assets can bring you unrivaled knowledge of how to save fuel, how to optimize routes, and eventually, how to offer a better price to your customers.

How about test driving Internet of Things supply chain technology to find hidden value streams in your logistics business? Interested? Fasten your seatbelt.

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What’s inside:

  • Two main approaches of growing business value from Internet of Things supply chain technology
  • Internet of things supply chain benefits for customers
  • IoT-enabled ecosystem of supply chain technologies
  • Culture of success in implementing IoT in the supply chain and logistics

Two main approaches to growing business value from Internet of Things supply chain technology

In general, there are two basic principles of finding and increasing the value of your business. The first is to increase revenue by any means. In our case, we can focus on an Internet of Things supply chain example of how to grow revenue for a logistics business. The second way to increase the value of your business is to reduce unnecessary costs. We’ll describe both approaches.

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Increase the value of a business by growing revenue with IoT in logistics

Logistics companies can increase revenue by improving their existing products and services or by offering completely new ones. By products, we mean digital apps and standalone solutions to solve the most burning organizational needs. In addition, we can mention unified platforms designed as digital hubs for multiple products developed by different vendors. To create either of these products, logistics service providers can partner with technology companies to acquire necessary expertise in IoT technology or to comply with specific industry standards.

When creating a new product, logistics companies should keep the focus on their customers or internal organizational needs. The newly introduced product should be highly personalized. This can be achieved through data insights generated by analytics captured with the help of Internet of Things supply chain technology. How can IoT help here? Imagine smart warehouses that can evaluate demand spikes on a specific item and automatically send a request to restock it before it’s sold out. This shows how the undisrupted supply chain can work by preparing goods to ship to customers without any manual work. As a result, we have an undisrupted flow of revenue and continuous revenue growth.

Another way to use IoT technology is to predict what customers may want in order to deliver it to them faster. Voice assistants like Amazon Alexa can collect valuable data on customer searches and potential orders to keep highly demanded items in stock. It sounds like spying, but let’s be realistic: Facebook has taught us that business has much more value than privacy. Well, when it’s legal and not dangerous, of course.

To illustrate how big this fish is, let’s see an optimistic prediction of revenue growth generated by IoT in supply chain and logistics. In the period from 2020 to 2030, the revenue from implementing IoT technology in various fields related to supply chains — such as fleet management software, eCommerce, retail, real estate, automotive, and transportation — will reach $100,984.5 million according to Prescient and Strategic Intelligence, with a projected CAGR of 13.2% during the forecast period.

Learn how leading logistics companies are generating more revenue by implementing intelligent fleet analytics.

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Reducing unnecessary logistics costs by applying Internet of Things supply chain management

Your logistics company overspends. There’s no doubt about it. There’s always a place where unnecessary costs creep in. To increase the value of your business, you should cut these costs.

Let’s take asset maintenance as an example. Establishing a unified ecosystem of IoT sensors for monitoring asset conditions, movement, and performance helps to build a predictive maintenance plan and prevent potential issues. In addition to monitoring the conditions of assets, an IoT ecosystem can regulate internal processes and asset loads to avoid repeated problems due to overloaded vehicles, driving on low-quality roads, or using bad tires. As a result, you can spend less on repairs, improve processes, minimize downtime, and save costs.

Another example of how you can reduce costs using Internet of Things supply chain benefits is by improving fuel economy. Running extensive fleets of vehicles, logistics companies spend millions on fuel. And what’s devastating is that a big part of this money gets wasted. Smart fuel management is possible thanks to telemetry data collected from vehicles when on the road. Data analytics provides insights to improve delivery routes by excluding road sections with difficult curvatures where drivers overconsume fuel.

Accurate demand forecasting can save costs too. For instance, you can shift products between warehouses according to demand for specific goods. Or you can even stop using particular warehouse due to low demand in the area. Alternatively, recognizing increased demand for an item in urban areas, you can focus more on last mile delivery rather than heavy trucks to redirect your spending for greater efficiency.

Learn how to apply telematics data to manage fleets more efficiently and without overspending.

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Internet of things supply chain benefits for customers

Now that you understand where the value of IoT for logistics companies is hidden, let’s focus on value for customers. What do customers want? Faster delivery for less money. Obviously. But how can IoT in supply chain and logistics help? Let’s see.

When customers are waiting for their orders to be delivered, they lack transparency and visibility. Internet of Things supply chain technology can improve the accuracy of estimated times of arrival by providing a higher level of trackability while packages are on the way. Installing GPS tracking devices to track shipments and IoT sensors to monitor cargo conditions can give customers exactly what they want: a transparent view of order movements.

Another Internet of Things supply chain example that can increase customer satisfaction is timely and relevant alerts and notifications delivered through smart devices. When cargo is running late, sending a notification about the delay to the recipient may smooth out the situation.

Today, customers pay much more attention to product quality, which increases the importance of traceable product origins. Implementing smart container technology based on IoT sensors will also pay off in terms of customers’ trust.

IoT-enabled ecosystem of supply chain technologies

Internet of Things supply chain technology makes a real difference in the logistics industry. IoT can find applications in many fields related to logistics even if it doesn’t directly affect your operations.

Interlinked applications of IoT that benefit supply chains
Internet of Things Supply Chain: A Hidden Chain of Business Value

In general, IoT technology brings value to logistics businesses in multiple dimensions and at all stages of the supply chain. It all starts when a logistics provider takes goods from a manufacturer. Smart IoT devices can be used for scanning RFID tags on packages to transmit data about items, transportation conditions, and specific requirements to the cloud. Using distributed ledger technology for recording and tracking this data, a logistics provider can protect against inappropriate transportation and provide full transparency to the customer.

When transporting shipments, IoT supply chain technology empowers logistics companies with higher cargo visibility, introduces process automation, and helps them easily integrate various enterprise systems for data sharing.

The place of IoT in logistics and its benefits for supply chains
Internet of Things Supply Chain: A Hidden Chain of Business Value

Culture of success in implementing IoT in supply chains and logistics

If you want to successfully implement IoT in supply chains and logistics, you should know why companies across industries are turning to IoT. The main reason why most organizations implement IoT technology is the need for data. After this need has been met, the next step is to maximize the value of data by specifying the volume of data you need, how often you can update this data, and how long it will be relevant.

Data volume
The more data you collect, the more context you get. This leads to deeper and faster business insights and decisions. If you have enough data to constantly monitor the condition of fleets and cargoes, you can instantly react to any deviations.

Data updates
By collecting data once, you get insights that can be useful for a limited period of time. It takes a lot of effort to achieve a continuous data flow from different sources. Implementing IoT solutions with recent advancements in connectivity gives you the chance to get closer to real-time data updates to generate insights that are useful all the time.

Data relevance
Collecting a lot of data may not be the best idea when you don’t know why you’re collecting it. You should start with a specific problem, determine your data sources, and match data with intended outcomes. Implementation of IoT should go hand in hand with business goals, and data should support those goals in the first place.

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The final word

Finding business value in implementing Internet of Things supply chain management technologies requires small but brave initial steps. The world has become oversaturated with data, and the volume of data is expected to grow up to 61% by 2025. What’s interesting is that the share of data generated by IoT devices is predicted to account for only 2% of the total projected volume of 175 zettabytes. What does this mean? It means that IoT is still underachieving. There are many reasons for this and most of them are hiding in common principles for increasing business value that are applicable to any industry: Cut costs and grow revenue. These two basic rules should be your reference point when thinking of IoT in supply chains.

First, search for opportunities to cut costs and find technology experts who will translate this business challenge into a technology solution. Then, think of ways to grow your revenue with new services and find possible solutions to create services based on digital innovation.

If you’ve already found your business challenge and are ready to apply IoT technology to solve it, our engineers can be of help. If you’re still looking for potential uses of IoT in your supply chain, contact Intellias for technology consulting. Together, we will discover the optimal solution to your needs.

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