What's The Internet of Things (IoT)?

January 28, 2020

The transportation industry is in the midst of an IoT revolution – track and trace, route optimization, vehicle safety, and more. How will this affect truckers, companies, and the industry as a whole?


The transportation industry is in the midst of an IoT revolution – track and trace, route optimization, vehicle safety, and more

As you might have heard, the Internet of Things is a pretty big deal. Across almost every industry, it’s changing the way decision makers work by providing unprecedented scope and detail of information into operations. Combined with other emerging technologies, this gives companies the power to predict, plan, and innovate their operations with greater precision, accuracy, and success than ever before.

IoT and the Supply Chain

The internet of things is the process of connecting traditionally off-the-grid items together using the internet – allowing not just the sending and receiving of collected information, but complex machine-to-machine communication between devices.

As IoT devices continue to become cheaper and more convenient, we can expect it to change how every aspect of the supply chain is tracked, evaluated, and iterated upon. You’ve probably already heard of smart thermostats, voice assistant-powered smart homes, and smart lighting – here’s how the same technology is changing how goods are moved and trade is completed.

Advanced Visibility

IoT, first and foremost, is going to allow stakeholders at every level of the supply chain – manufacturers, distributors, 3PLs, carriers, and end customers – to have unprecedented detail on the location and status of their shipments. Even more exciting, these gateway/tracker units promise to be active instead of passive.

Why is active tracking so revolutionary? Passive tracking via RFID tags and labels has been an industry standard for some time, but the problem is that it has to be scanned by an external unit, whether a physical gateway at warehouses or a receiving clerk with a handheld scanner. This means that theres no real-time information or any information at all during transit, the most important part of the transportation process.

Active tracking uses embedded wireless technology through partnerships with wireless service providers of 4G and 5G networks to provide real-time data throughout the entire shipment process, from when freight leaves the distributor to when it arrives at the end customer.

By being embedded directly into freight, cheaper and smaller tracking devices will be able to transmit granular data as well – freight specific information on location, shock, temperature, humidity, etc. that isn’t generalized to the truck or shipping container. This will provide tremendous value to LTL and parcel truckloads, where each piece of freight has its own delivery specifications and needs specific care.

How do you think IoT can change the way your freight moves? Let us know on social!

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