In the previous blog I explored existing levers in supply chain transformation, the areas they fail to address and how IoT might bridge the gaps. In this blog I’ll explore specific processes and areas in the supply chain where IoT can play a role.
IoT is an ideal candidate for transforming supply chains in key areas: warehouse, inventory, logistics, shop floors and new product development.
IoTizing the Warehouse
IoT levers make inventory visible at granular levels, enabling warehouse managers to better track, trace and move inventories. IoT levers also facilitate better health monitoring of inventories, preventing loss and damage. Integration between intra and inter logistics components which was not possible at an Enterprise Resource Planning level, can now be enabled by leveraging IoT. This reduces wait time and streamlines coordination between logistics providers and warehouse managers. Finally, supply chain managers can better coordinate and manage inventories because IoT enables tighter integration between warehouse inventories upstream and downstream.
IoTizing Inventory Management
A key challenge for supply chain managers is inventory traceability. IoT, with its sensory capabilities, can provide a multi-level view that includes in-transit and at-rest inventory across all echelons. Supply chain managers have a visual of their entire inventory at any given point in time.
A typical pain point in inventory management has been the glaring discrepancy between actual physical inventory and what’s shown in records. IoT can integrate data from logistics to provide an accurate and comprehensive view of replenishment and withdrawals. Warehouse managers can rest easy, even after inventory audits.
While GPS based tracking has been in use for a long time, the data from GPS systems is confined to limited space and usage. IoT platforms can marry this with other transactional data to provide logistics operators with a clear overview and the insights that support more tactical decisions.
Logistics companies potentially face huge losses in operations if they’re not able to align operations and weather conditions. Weather services now forecast weather changes at hyper-localized levels. As IoT goes about integrating this data with route schedules, companies can make more responsive, granular decisions at the route level. Logistics supervisors are better prepared when scheduling and routing shipments.
Transporting perishables can be challenging. IoTizing the logistics management process can help avoid losses by continuously monitoring the health of the inventory, and enabling precautionary steps.
And finally, as stringent regulations are placed on the Hours of Services (HoS) for drivers, it’s imperative that truck operators get real time data on drivers. IoT can combine HoS with real time route data to help logistics supervisors plan and schedule trips more efficiently.
IoTizing Shop Floor Management
IoT can provide production managers with production status at workstations. This can help shop floor managers determine how close they are to achieving target production schedules.
IoT allows monitoring of parameters including sub-assemblies or work-in-progress jobs by other workstations in the assembly line. This view can reduce set-up time for each segment of an assembly line by preparing an operator with all necessary inputs before the job arrives.
IoT can help Quality Managers measure process through sensors at a granular level and predict final product quality. This real time data can provide the insights needed for effective root cause analysis. Backed by IoT enablement, Quality Managers have keener data on each and every step of the manufacturing process and are able to identify root causes with greater accuracy and resolution.
Workplace safety is another area where IoT can help employees and companies avoid accidents. Workers can be warned if they’re using hazardous methods or inappropriate tools. In case of an emergency, a real time view of the incident in terms of scale and criticality can facilitate swift curative action.
IoTizing New Product Development
Supply chain managers often complain that supply chain inputs are barely considered in the creation of new products. A comprehensive view of a new product as it moves through a supply chain is key to developing superior products and delivering them efficiently to customers.
IoT can provide sensors and device capabilities as well as the platform to view product movement through the supply chain. Product development teams can leverage this data and analysis to improve supply chain efficiency.
With IoTization, if a company wants to launch a beverage in a particular geography, it can understand exactly how that product will perform before launch. Using IoT, the beverage company can understand and optimize every supply chain and customer touchpoint of the product’s journey. Using IoT it can bottle it, pack it, ship it and ensure that the customer experience is exactly what it intends. That’s how you make a “Wow!” experience.
From product development to delivery, IoT fills in the gaps left by conventional supply chain levers to create a seamless, predictable and enormously more efficient supply stream.