Use Case: The Role of Democratized IoT in Smart Transportation & Supply Chain Management

By October 2, 2017Case Studies

The Big Picture

From curbing inventory loss and reducing repair costs, to cutting fuel costs and improving shipping route efficiency — the benefits of IoT technology and related analytics for supply chain management and transport are already undeniable. And while large players like DHL are defining the way that IoT is used for logistics, it’s smaller players who are still on the precipice of being able to take advantage of the technology’s potential.

The Problem

Currently, 90 percent of trade occurs across global waters and less than a fifth of the terrestrial domain of Earth is covered by any type of network. This means that there are severe limitations when tracking valuable goods traveling from one continent to another, which leads to inventory loss and, as expected, inefficient business processes.

It is physically impossible to track supply chains using multiple networks without compromising visibility across very important and critical geographical regions.

Add to this, the cost. Conventional methods of tracking supply chains involve geostationary satellites, an extremely expensive process. So expensive in fact, that the solution does not make great business sense for many middle or small-sized enterprises. 


“Freight and shipping companies have used barcode scanners to track and manage their inventory. But new developments are making these scanners obsolete, as they can only collect data on broad types of items, rather than the location or condition of specific items. Newer asset tracking solutions….offer much more vital and usable data, especially when paired with other IoT technologies.” — Business Insider


From Commerce to Emergency Response

In some cases, the need for efficient matrix management becomes dire. When hurricanes and natural disasters occur — something that’s occurring at rising rates in our changing global environment — supply chain management takes on a more critical role.

In early 2017, researchers determined five key areas of increased pressure on supply chain management for emergency response:

  1. Unpredictability of demand
  2. Suddenness of occurrence and short lead times
  3. The need for timely delivery to mitigate human suffering
  4. Damage to the logistics infrastructure caused by the disaster
  5. Lack of resources to implement such a system (trained personnel, technology, transportation capacity, etc.)

So, we can see where improved logistics via democratized IoT technology can have a more crucial impact on the planet, far beyond commercial endeavours. Similarly, the transport of medical supplies can be monitored in efforts to deter cargo theft.

The Solution

Tracking valuable assets and goods moving globally is not efficient or economical for smaller organizations, but the game changer will prove to be democratized access to IoT technologies — via satellite technology.

Key Technological Highlights:

  1. Tags/sensors will be deployed on critical instrumentation of supply chain assets
  2. Access points will capture, aggregate and relay data to the satellites
  3. Cloud application will depict critical parameters and analytics on the web

For the first time, satellite technology will be able to provide a compelling, efficient and economical solution to track valuable assets and goods moving globally from A to B. Beyond location tracking of containers and assets, the Helios solution will also allow for monitoring container temperature and/or vibration to determine if the goods are being well kept, or whether the containers have been tampered with for theft or smuggling purposes.

With IoT-centric solutions like Helios, a single communication channel will capture data via GPS and critical instruments and — by way of the cloud — will provide insight at each critical step in the journey of supply chains across both global waters and terrestrial geography.

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