Better Data, Smarter Decisions: Asset Tracking and Logistics With IoT

By April 7, 2017Blogs

“Fewer than 50% of companies currently track assets, yet logistics is one of the costliest aspects of global trade.” — IBM

Logistical intelligence: raising the bar with realtime data.

Even with IoT-enabled industries and applications on the rise, especially in the ranks of big business, there are not enough affordable IoT devices to serve small and medium-sized businesses, both in existing and emerging markets. But in terms of device numbers and affordability, a shift is coming. And that shift is moving the industry closer toward realtime data and decision making.

“With the number of IoT devices increasing, and with greater affordability on the horizon, we’re in a better place to make sure that tracking and intelligence can occur in realtime,” explains Helios CEO, Scott Larson. “This will be key to increasing IoT usage amongst small and mid-sized transport and logistics companies.”

Although IoT is already improving operations for larger Transport and Logistics (T&L) companies, it’s the small and medium-sized companies that have yet to capitalize — which is anticipated to occur with an increase in IoT tracker and analytics affordability.

Better management, better data extraction.

Extraction of data in near-realtime has been a challenge for T&L companies, especially on a global scale. “To solve this, more sensors are needed, as well as low-cost, connected devices that make realtime asset tracking possible,” says Larson.

IoT also enables smarter fleet management systems, which help companies gather new insights across business areas like operations and finance. It’s those insights that lead to enhanced customer experiences and informed decision making.

“It all comes down to business intelligence,” says Larson. “Insights are only as good as the quality of data and, to a lesser extent, quantity of data.”

Where traditional logistics are concerned, the main goals have been to deliver goods on time and as expected. However, with IoT technology, it’s now possible to enable realtime asset tracking, including tracking of truck fleets, containers, machinery, etc. “Higher quality information from IoT devices already allows businesses to extract better data and make better decisions,” Larson explains. “That could include information about the device itself, as well as equipment status and performance, all tracked in realtime to optimize routes and predict maintenance.”

Integrated data + the cloud = deeper insights.

Soon, M2M communications are going to require that IoT device integration is top-of-mind. “This means that businesses will be placing more focus on tightening networks, which IoT device integration can ensure,” explains Larson. “This can be accomplished with the cloud,” he adds.

Of course, the cloud can collect and analyze massive amounts of realtime data, but organizational obstacles do exist. To achieve the full benefits of IoT, the organization as a whole must embrace its use, explains the Wharton School of Business blog. And Industrial IoT suggests that pilot programs can minimize risks.

A democratized solution.

Helios anticipates that the key to global-scale improvements in shipping and logistics can be found in small, solar-powered tags that are about the size of a smart phone. Those tags would transmit data like location, proximity, temperature, etc. In the case of shipping, that could include location and whether a container lock has been opened, among other metrics.

“The tag could, for instance, be attached to a container at a factory in Asia, where it could provide continual updates across the entire value chain as it’s transported from the factory to the train, the dock, the ship, and then on to a dock in North America,” explains Larson.

“Traditionally speaking, providing global location or IoT updates to the logistics and transportation industry has been technically difficult and expensive,” he adds. “The Helios network of LEO satellites would reduce the traditional CapPex and infrastructure costs, while also allowing for rapid industry adoption. It’s a solution that makes sense when monitoring expensive assets like trucks and containers and also tracking the last mile of smart shipping pallets — and there are billions of pallets across the planet.”


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