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Getting Logistics Visibility and Predictability with IoT

Rafael Granato
by Rafael Granato on Apr 2, 2015 3:43:42 PM

A recent article in Supply Chain 247 called (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 and inventory robotics to improve logistics visibility with trailer visits that are managed by modern yard management systems.


To illustrate the point, consider a truck and a loaded trailer arriving at a distribution center. Since the load left its source facility, the destined distribution center has been utilizing logistics predictability by automatically tracking its progress. Fed via the truck’s telematics system, the yard management system has been continuously optimizing its expected journey within the facility based on its predicted arrival. Its goal is 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 it waits, the truck is also 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 delivery and pick up his new one.

For even more logistics visibility, the truck is regularly scanned while at the distribution center. Real-time information of the trailer’s journey and location is relayed to the carrier and other interested parties. Even after it leaves for new stops, the distribution center 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 using IoT sensors for logistics predictability and visibility. They are by no means exhaustive, but do include 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. With technology like this, it is easier and more efficient than ever to keep your company successful and its relationships solid.

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Rafael Granato
Written by Rafael Granato
Written by Author