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Using IoT for Visibility and Predictability

Rafael Granato
by Rafael Granato on Apr 2, 2015 6:43:42 PM

A recent article in Supply Chain 247 (Capitalizing on the IoT with Visibility and Intelligence) discussed how Internet of Things (IoT) momentum is reaching critical mass. This got me thinking about examples of how much we already use various sensors to improve trailer visits that are managed by modern yard management systems.  


To illustrate the point, take a use case of a truck and a loaded trailer arriving at a Distribution Center (DC). Since the load had left its source facility, the destination DC has been automatically tracking its progress. Fed via the truck’s telematics system, the Yard Management System (YMS) has been continuously optimizing its expected journey within the facility based on its predicted arrival. It’s goal – to accelerate ingress into the facility and to optimize the scheduling of unloading.  Instructions, and outlooks of what to expect on arrival at the facility, have been periodically messaged back to the driver’s smart device.

As the truck arrives at the facility, a read of the trailer’s RFID tag positively confirms that the load has arrived at the location, recording the precise time and day. Information linked to the load is automatically retrieved and displayed on the kiosk screen at the unmanned gate. As the truck pulls up to the unmanned gate, it is weighed and cameras capture a 360 degree image of the trailer. The driver confirms the details of his load at the kiosk screen with a single click, and is instructed where to drop his current load and pickup his new load.

Throughout the trailer’s visit to the DC, it is regularly scanned to confirm its location. Real-time information of the trailer journey and location is relayed to the carrier and other interested parties. At the end of its visit, the trailer leaves and begins the next leg of its journey, the DC remains aware of its existence and used the meaningful knowledge it captured to assist load planners looking for equipment and trim future potential dwell time. Meaningful information relating to the carrier and trailer visit have been captured for future analysis.

This example demonstrates the use of multiple types of IoT sensors, which are by no means exhaustive, including the driver’s cell phone, truck telematics system, RFID tags, RFID readers, video processing, weight scales and smart kiosks. These sensors all played their part in minimizing human interaction and automating the entire visit. 

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Rafael Granato
Written by Rafael Granato
Written by Author
Supply Chain Brief