How Can IoT Improve Supply Chain During COVID-19?
The spread of COVID-19 has restrained the speed of businesses and interrupted the functioning of logistics and transportations. The current dilemma is how to sustain in the situation and to stop the economic meltdown while staying healthy.
Many companies and manufacturing industries are struggling to supply the goods to the customer or market. Recent studies conducted by Adobe stated that online purchase of hand sanitizer, masks, gloves and anti-bacterial sprays was raised by 817 per cent in February 2020. The sudden shift from window shopping to online has created a new challenge as well as an opportunity for all the businesses. Most of the businesses are opening an online platform for shopping, but without good and reliable logistics and transport, nothing is worth doing.
To stay economically healthy in the business, retailers need to assure that they are providing an excellent quality customer experience. Retailers need to inform about the shipment status and its expected delivery date of the product to the customer.
From packaging to delivery, proactive communication about the status of a product can only be achieved by the involvement of IoT and sensors.
Adopting sensors integrated with IoT devices can help retailers in keeping a track on the shipment to know its status and to inform the same to the customer. But before we understand how holistically Iot will aid in supply chains, let’s check what are the challenges in supply chain management.
Challenges in supply chain management:
Today, the supply chain has become the heart of any business, if it is not available, then forget about the profit and fulfilment of demands. However, with the globalization, lack of technology adoption and rise in eCommerce, supply chain complexities are increased.
Here are a few challenges which are disrupting in smooth supply chain flow:
- Lack of coordination and communication between people at different places involved in supply chains like producers, brokers, transporters, processors, retailers, wholesalers and consumers.
- Lack of fast last-mile delivery and compliance to meet the operational needs required for direct-to-customer fulfilment.
- Improper manual and slow data reconciliation process.
- Lack of transparency and improper record maintenance across the supply chain.
- Poor stock management and no record maintenance of stolen, lost, shortage of products and inability to maintain minimum stock level etc.
- Lack of visibility in supply chain inventory and security across all the channels in the supply chain.
- Unsatisfied customers because of late deliveries without information.
Well, COVID-19 has proved the need for improvement in the logistics and adoption of the latest technologies for getting the best results. IoT offers a lot to the logistics to overcome challenges, improve transparency and ensure on-time delivery. Let us check how IoT can add advancement, proactive communication and transparency in logistics:
Precise Location Tracking:
Today, when the virus is spreading everywhere, the shipment has become more significant as people are staying home to stay healthy. The expectation of the customers to get the delivery on time has raised to a much higher level. By switching to the Internet of things enabled devices, companies can have insights into shipment and its status, which they can share with the customers. Companies can share the location of the consignment and the estimated delivery date of the packages.
Not just this, data received by IoT devices also helps retailers in scheduling optimized shipment routes for faster delivery, improved functioning and providing the best customer experience.
IoT enabled devices even helps in identifying warehouse delays and assists in addressing weak links while pushing overall efficiencies. Today in this virus affected the world, such data can be proved as lifesaving. Suppliers can trace the routes where shipments are facing snag and causing late delivery. They can avoid the road in future and opt for another way to make sure the delivery of essential products on time to customers.
Shipment Conditions Monitoring:
Apart from tracking consignment, delivering product in good condition is also essential. By acquiring, computing and providing updates on the environment state of a shipment can add confidence that the package is at a good state. This part is particularly important for providers of fragile or perishable products, as containers depart from supplier to seller to customer.
For clear vision, let us take an example of shipment containing food/dairy packages. A food/dairy shipment requires proper temperature throughout the journey to maintain quality; otherwise, it would just not spoil the reputation of the brand but would lead to serious health issues.
Through IoT-enabled sensors, a retailer can keep a check on container conditions to make sure no compromise with quality. In fact, if some issues appear, the retailer can take immediate steps to resolve the problems.
Tracking and monitoring consignment is possible through Iot devices that are connected to a global network and can provide insights to retailers and customers to stay aware of products’ status.
Companies should switch to a 0G network to provide them with global connectivity. A 0G network is an exclusive low-bandwidth wireless network designed to connect simple, low-cost and less power consuming IoT devices to the internet. It is used to transfer a small amount of data across long ranges. It is different from others as it can transmit data such as location or temperature at a lower cost without compromising with quality.
On the other hand, due to less consumption of power, battery life is longer and lasts till the shipment journey ends. Thus it provides real-time data of the package location.
Excellent visibility provided by IoT across the supply chain offers an opportunity for enterprises to adopt the path to operational efficiency, aids in providing better customer experiences and a healthy bottom line.
Though COVID-19 has interrupted in the growth and development, it has given an opportunity to explore and adopt the most beneficial technology for improving efficiency and increasing benefits. Most of the companies are embracing IoT to churn profits. IoT provides insights to adjust the changes caused by a virus while offering excellent services at less price.
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