Mitarbeiter trackt einen Container auf einem Computerbildschirm.

The Internet of Things in logistics


HOW A NETWORKED WORLD MAKES LIFE EASIER FOR LOGISTICS SUPPLIERS AND IMPROVES SUPPLY CHAINS

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a relatively new development stage of the internet. It is the internet that spreads beyond smartphones and laptops to other everyday things: refrigerators, coffee machines, smart watches, glasses. Devices that are part of the Internet of Things are termed smart devices or smart objects. Therefore, the Internet of Things is the increasing interconnection of physical and virtual devices. But for what purpose? Devices that can receive or transmit data can be analyzed and configured. Think of a modern coffee machine: You can save your own individual espresso-latte-caramel-cinnamon-chai as a pre-setting on the machine – and even send it to other IoT coffee machines. But why are you reading about the Internet of Things and special coffee mixes on a BLG website? The short answer? Because we can build, analyze and optimize a supply chain that is as individual and transparent as your coffee. The long answer? Read it here.

THE INTERNET OF THINGS MAKES LOGISTICS MORE TRANSPARENT – AND IN THE FUTURE IT COULD OPTIMIZE SUPPLY CHAINS DOWN TO THE VERY LAST DETAIL

More and more publicly available studies are suggesting that companies will make massive financial gains from the Internet of Things in the future. However, in the industry close to our hearts – logistics – the IoT is much more than an opportunity to reduce costs. It can be a revolution in logistics. Imagine a high-bay rack warehouse in which all industrial trucks act autonomously and are simultaneously interconnected. These vehicles can exchange information with each other and optimize processes themselves. There are also new possibilities outside the warehous

With IoT, supply chains are smarter than ever before

Imagine supply chains in which the transported goods are in smart containers. This means we know much more about the state of individual units within the transport chain. We can access the containers' data at any time, in any weather, anywhere in the world. Is the container undamaged, is it moving, is it wet or hot? The smart machines used by some of our customers are a practical example of the benefits of the IoT. They feature e.g. vibration sensors. These sensors collect data about the vibration and motion behavior and other functions of the machine. By means of machine learning, our customers can extremely accurately predict when a machine will break down – and take measures to prevent the breakdown before it even happens. In this scenario, a data-based plan controls maintenance. The name for this is predictive maintenance. If we replace "machines" with elements in the supply chain, for example transport containers, we get smart containers.

That enables us to create supply chains in which the individual links send detailed reports on their status to a central unit – in real time. We track not just the condition and status of a container ship, but of each individual container.

This makes supply chains absolutely transparent and capable of optimization. We know where problems crop up even before they negatively impact on the logistics chain. The result: predictive supply chain optimization. In the future, we could use this solution to minimize quality fluctuations.

FOCUS ON: THE INTERNET OF THINGS

In general terms, the IoT in logistics involves six steps:

  1. Determination of the measuring parameters. What do we want to measure? In a freight container for example, humidity is often an important factor.
  2. Selection of the measuring method: How do we want to or have to measure and how can we measure? In the case of humidity, we need a moisture sensor to measure relative humidity.
  3. Next, we determine the type of data transfer. Examples familiar from any smartphone are Bluetooth or LTE.
  4. Apart from data transfer, we need to select the communication protocol. MQTT is a frequently used communication protocol.
  5. There is a large choice of cloud service suppliers for transmission, storage and processing of messages. They offer various advantages and disadvantages.
  6. Via the cloud, messages can be sent to different applications – either to mobile devices at the top of the pyramid or to administration programs such as an ERP.
Ein Mitarbeiter scannt einen Container im Hafen.
In the future, employees will be able to record and track containers with their smartphones.

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