Coming Soon: The Industrial Internet of Things and 3PL Service Changes

Last modified: July 8, 2016

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a popular term circulating within our manufacturing, distribution, transportation, and logistics arenas. Reliance upon the Internet of Things (IoT) is growing and impacting the manufacture, transport, and many other facets of our civilization.  ThomasNet wrote an article, “Are Manufacturers Ready for the Industrial Internet?” and states:

Manufacturers’ business models and competencies will have to evolve to take advantage of the Industrial Internet. The rewards promise to offer tremendous value to those companies that can adapt and produce machinery and equipment for it.

However, this represents a frightening, yet exciting and profitable, prospect: how will transportation management services, warehouse management systems, and other aspects of third-party logistics (3PL) benefit themselves by using the industrial internet of things in the future? Rather than leave you to your imagination for how this will work, let us take you on a journey into the world of tomorrow, where the IIoT rests within the heart and soul of every 3PL service.

Smart Container Creation

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in smart containers will have sensors that improve the transparency and accuracy of product transportation. Unreliable human identification of shipping container materials including incorrect product specifications leading to merchandise damage will soon be a thing of the past.

Poorly packed products are often exposed to the elements and arrive in poor condition, thereby inflicting a loss. Dramatic variations in atmospheric pressure could damage sensitive equipment. Using the Industrial Internet of Things, RFID sensors will give detailed accounts and warnings of upcoming environmental threats by type of unit in each container to shipping employees or drivers. Eventually, IIoT will progress to full automation, no longer requiring intensive human interaction.

Recalling or redirecting a vehicle will be possible with the Industrial Internet of Things as well as the removal and redirection of shipments via computerized loading equipment. Furthermore, the IIoT can direct sensitive units to be housed within “indestructible” shipping containers and thereby eliminate environmental concerns. However, the primary goal of all logistics systems is to improve efficiency and drive customer satisfaction through rapid, reliable service.

Think Smart Vehicles

IoT’s impact includes trains, planes, ocean-carriers, and even the eventual use of drones for shipping products. Smart vehicles will assist in gathering data and determine potential factors that may hinder the path of shipping. One example is Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems that will be required on all post-2004 US vehicles. This will reduce fuel loss from incidences of low tire pressure and spare shipping expense.

Multiple monitoring systems on all means of transportation will also reduce key service issues. Soon, the Industrial Internet of Things’ data use will work to prevent potential issues leading to shipping delays or even failure. Furthermore, inefficiencies will be recognized by the IIoT during shipping and add helpful recommendations for future shipments.  The IIoT will also affect another key shipping area, infrastructure.

Infrastructure and the Industrial Internet of Things

America’s roads are an integral part of its being one of the most exceptional infrastructures in the world. However, unskilled drivers on the road will still affect even the most up-to-date 3PL services. The IIoT is in use today in newer vehicles’ advanced safety problem detection technologies. Soon, IIoT detection of erratic driving behavior will produce alerts for other drivers and eventually send local authorities reports of dangerous drivers. The IIoT has the potential to be fused within roadways with uses like disabling dangerous vehicles or redirecting traffic to safer, alternative paths. One example of this would be by shutting down lanes well in advance of dangerous conditions like a traffic accident.  That improvement will decrease shipping rates by easing transportation regulations.

Responsiveness and Security Increases

Similarly, the IIoT will reduce future shrink from shipping containers being opened unexpectedly.  Attempted movement or theft of units by dishonest employees will be quickly identified.  With IIoT, a plethora of options become available such as preventing persons from entering the vehicle while alerting the police or even engaging electronically controlled door locks to prevent access or trap a would be thief. Some may argue invasion of privacy and employee ire yet company property will be finally be secure using the Industrial Internet of Things and IoT. Both will serve to increase 3PL service provider efficiency by reducing human errors and protecting inventory from the elements. The Industrial Internet of Things will also render the best routes according to weather conditions and safety while upping accountability and responsiveness of employees. Those factors alone will make the process safer and increase satisfaction levels across the board. With the IIoT continuously working on problem prevention and maximizing our systems’ vertical integration – the 3PL world of the future will be increasingly smoother and profitable.

In what ways do you believe the IIoT affect logistics, the supply chain and the services provided by 3PLs?

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