The level of data that these intelligent devices are able to collect and organise is unprecedented. A logistics manager can now pull up his app dashboard at any time to see up-to-the-minute information about the exact location of an asset, the speed at which it is moving, and its estimated arrival time based on current travel and weather conditions. And when an asset does arrive at a location, automated time and date stamps replace the need to scan RFID barcodes.
Tracking systems can report data such as temperature, shock and tilt for goods such as medicines and agri-food products that must be transported with great care and under specific conditions to keep them viable. Tracking ensures sensitive materials are delivered safely, on time and in perfect condition.
Meanwhile, IoT solutions can help ensure food safety procedures are observed by accurately monitoring the temperature of food storage facilities and refrigerated trucks and containers. A simple device installed in the storage unit is linked to an online dashboard that can be configured to send alerts in the event of abnormal temperature levels, to trigger swift corrective action.
Global tyre manufacturer, Michelin is just one example of an organisation turning to IoT to bolster customer satisfaction, increasing Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) by 40% and reducing Out of Stock (OOS) situations due to exceptional circumstances (such as bad weather) by a quarter. Using freighters with a geolocation service to monitor its containers from the initial warehouse to the final point of delivery, Michelin is improving operational value by reducing lead time, providing alerts about delays and ensuring appropriate transport conditions. Other companies, including Airbus, Total and PSA, are following suit, deploying global geolocation solutions, in order to improve logistics flow and track freight, optimise rolling stock and help manage trailer fleets.
Although geolocation technologies have been around for years, their spread has been limited – mainly because network services lack worldwide coverage, global reach and a low total cost of ownership (TCO). Today, innovation is happening both at the level of sensors attached to goods and assets, and when it comes to the networks capturing and transferring data – all the way from the production line to the point of final delivery. Ideally suited for small amounts of data, such as geolocation information, non-Cellular LPWA technologies such as Sigfox now make up two-thirds of low-power wide-area (LPWA) networks, benefiting from rapid growth over the past few years thanks to ‘out of the box’ installation and lack of barriers to entry such as cost, energy consumption, and scalability.
Sigfox’s 0G network aims to provide a minimal worldwide communication service. This dedicated small-messaging network can also act as a safety net for all existing networks, as it increases their overall security level and availability. It delivers the reliability and performance required for billions of connected devices around the globe, through this network it’s possible to affordably and autonomously track assets across continents, whilst consuming minimal energy. The 0G network is a key enabler for mass connectivity because of these features.
What’s the benefit to business?
There are huge advantages associated with more accurate asset tracking. Improvements to service levels for clients might include a reduction in lead times because detecting containers unloading at the arrival port helps to accelerate logistics operations at its destination. Likewise, alerts about delays can help trigger corrective actions to better manage priorities between clients and improve supply chain planning.
Asset tracking is now affordable, easy to install and maintain, and available worldwide. Tracking devices can run for months or even years without a battery change, and they work both indoors and outdoors. Trackers transmit location data from fleets of returnable containers, as well as valuable information on the whereabouts of other deliveries, including pallets, parcels and trolleys. This offers value chain security, peace of mind and efficiency.
Although many organisations are still in their IoT infancy, they’re executing more and more proof of concept pilots to demonstrate ROI and continually optimise the way they harness the technology before wider adoption, which will eventually see industrial IoT overtake the consumer market.