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Whenever goods are on the move, bad things can happen. Connected logistics, powered by the Internet of Things (IoT), can offer a customized hardware and software solution that delivers real-time information to help safeguard products, minimize loss, and enable stronger supply chains. The challenge: how do you implement it successfully?

IoT is transforming virtually every aspect of business in which access to real-time information is essential for avoiding disaster. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the emerging field of connected logistics for supply chains.

Consider this scenario: a refrigerated truck is transporting 5,000 gallons of gourmet ice cream cross-country. For this highly perishable cargo, temperature is critical and the carrier cannot risk an undetected malfunction. A connected logistics solution customized for this circumstance allows the driver to continuously monitor the truck's environmental analytics – temperature, humidity, shock, vibration, tilt, pressure and more – all via smart phone. This ability to make real-time adjustments before calamity strikes ensures a safe delivery of the payload.

Connected logistics powered by IoT can amount to big dollars in potential savings.

  • The annual worldwide financial impact from cargo loss in 2016 is estimated at around $60 billion.
  • Some 30 percent of all perishable goods spoil before reaching their destination – an enormous impact on supply chains worldwide.

One new technology designed to answer this problem is the Intel® Connected Logistics Platform, which gives companies greater insight into the status of assets as they travel through the supply chain. Using this platform, they can make intelligent, real-time decisions that can drastically minimize loss and spoilage.

Software is key to effective connected logistics

Connected logistics solutions are more than the sum of their IoT sensors, Wi-Fi gateways and other components: it's one thing to make a device that functions in a lab environment, and quite another to deploy it as a reliable end-to-end solution that functions intelligently and meets users' actual needs.

Custom software is required at the endpoint to tie the technology and user experience together and provide relevance for the data being collected, allowing users to act on information in real time. Rather than adapting a third-party software application that perhaps was designed for a different purpose altogether, the ideal solution features customized software created for the specific project.

Returning to our hypothetical ice cream truck scenario: without this technology, drivers would have no visibility into load conditions, raising the potential for nasty surprises at the destination. The introduction of edge analytics at the source enables real-time adjustments if the temperature is too high or other malfunctions take place. The result: peace of mind for the trucking company and ice cream distributor alike, knowing the payload is more likely to arrive safely.

Discerning the customer's true needs

Developing an effective connected logistics solution begins with talking to the personnel most affected in the supply chain: in this example drivers, refrigeration maintenance technicians, supervisors, management and other key stakeholders.

Through ideation workshops, WWT solution teams go through an iterative process following agile methodology to begin quickly prototyping and testing elements of a comprehensive solution. Rather than simply creating their own solution in a lab and pushing it out, solution developers take their lead from the business and operations professionals who have the greatest stake in the solution.

A smart solution for a wide range of customers

The possibilities for connected logistics extend far beyond ice cream trucks: similar real-world solutions are already at work in manufacturing, mining, the airline industry, the Department of Defense, and a world of other industries where precious cargo needs to get from Point A to Point B. In fact, WWT itself has even deployed connected logistics technology in its own vehicle fleet.

Connect with me to talk about how connected logistics can benefit your supply chain operation.