Manufacturing Industries are accelerating the adoption of IoT in supply chain, owing to the increased demands of the customers. Every manufacturer wants to deliver the right product, at the right time, in the right quantity and quality, and to the correct location. And, in this, if the demand of the customer varies, a great amount of accuracy and reliability are quintessential. This is where IoT in supply chain helps manufacturers in achieving operational excellence.
What does IoT in supply chain mean?
The idea IoT in supply chain comes from the fact that the production of any product is inherently dependent on a series of functions and connections. If any of the activities or connections becomes weak, whether it is through machine delays, operational errors, or poor logistics, you end up with an inefficient supply chain where costs are higher than profit margins.
Therefore, using a strong network of sensors, IoT bridges the gap between the physical world of objects and the world of information in supply chain management. It manages the internal states as well as the external environment to make informed decisions. The data collected from the connected devices (sensors, actuators, instruments, etc.) is then transmitted over the Internet and examined using big data analytics.
Using big data analytics, the complex, unstructured, and a large set of data generated from IoT devices are analyzed to gain understanding and insights into the business trend. Bringing a sense of business intelligence, IoT helps manufacture gain more controls of their Machine, Methods, Manpower, Money, and Materials. You get end-to-end real-time visibility and gain a completive edge over the competitors. Your plant becomes data-driven, error-free, and more productive.
Let’s have a look at the top 5 ways in which industrial IoT is helping manufacturers gaining business growth.
Top 5 ways how IoT in the supply chain can be beneficial
1. End-to-end visibility
The customers are becoming more discerning in terms of selecting the manufacturer to purchase the order that is produced ethically and sustainably with no room for errors. So, having end-to-end visibility becomes pivotal for a manufacturer. And, IoT ensures that. Using a range of sensor-equipped machines and IoT devices across the supply chain, there can be a free flow of information. This data collected flags the potential issues or stumbling blocks that are present in the supply chain in real-time. Therefore, you always have unparalleled transparency in the entire process.
2. Order fulfillment
Famously known as the ‘Last Mile Delivery’, it is the most important step of the supply chain cycle, i.e., the journey of a product from the manufacturer to the end customer. And, as the delivery experience has the major impacts on getting the repeated orders, manufacturers need to optimize their last-mile delivery and attain order fulfillment. There is a need to digitize the inventory management system and make it more reliable.
Introducing IoT devices in a supply chain can help in optimizing the Last Mile Delivery. It quickly catches the issues, changes auto-delivery systems, and plans the truck route based on the information collected from the IoT devices. It can also plan the logistics based on the current weather conditions.
3. Predictive maintenance
The success of the supply chain cycle depends on how well a manufacturer can process and move the finished products to the end customers on time and in full quality. Whether that end user is a retailer who needs to deliver the products to the end customers or another manufacturer who needs small components to create huge machines, the supply chain demands no failure and zero machine downtime. This is where IoT in supply chain can help.
A combination of digital supply chain management and IoT helps in eradicating machine downtime, which is a large stumbling block that often deals to process failure. Machine downtime causes a ripple effect across the supply chain, and installing IoT devices helps in curbing it. It predicts the machine breakdowns and overcomes the failures before they occur.
The time has come when manufacturers should take a shift from reactive maintenance to proactive and predictive maintenance. This way, good health of machines is maintained, followed by the increased performance of the manufacturing plant.
4. Efficient Inventory tracking
Although most of the manufacturers are using inventory tracking software, introducing IoT can make a lot of difference. It can keep track of inventories more efficiently with less human intervention. This is the reason why Amazon uses robots with high-speed Internet connectivity to track orders and inventories using QR codes. The robots quickly scan the code and send the information to a database where it is stored and shared when asked for. Such an inventory management system is not only efficient but also fast, accurate, and leads to fewer errors.
In addition, the data collected from IoT devices can be analyzed using big data analytics to optimize plant operations. For example, an accurate inventory tracking software can automate the ordering of items exactly when required, thereby saving the cost spent in storing such items when not in use.
5. Protect goods from damage
The process of supply chain for fragile or perishable goods is complex to manage. Where a manufacturer strives to deliver the undamaged goods to the customers, there is a whole host of factors in between affecting the process. There is a need for optimum shipping arrangements to be made where the goods are moved to the customers in the best suitable environment. And, if it does not, it is a waste for your customer.
Therefore, an ideal environment should be maintained until the time the product reaches the customer. A few degrees down or up can spoil the product. And, IoT can assist in reducing the percentage of waste through the use of sensors. The sensors give real-time and detailed information on conditions within the shipping containers, and accordingly, the preventive measures can be taken to save the product from getting damaged.
The benefits of IoT in the supply chain are many. And, with installing more devices in state-of-the-art IT infrastructure, those benefits are only growing in number. IoT is the future of digital supply chain management. It is fast, accurate, smart, and efficient. When coupled with predictive analysis, it can help suppliers, manufacturers, and transporters with the real-time information they need to optimize the operations and gain competitive advantage.