The Internet of Things and supply chain optimization

The Internet of Things is transforming many things within the business world, and supply chain managers know this intimately. By 2020, according to IT research firm Gartner, there will be 20.8 billion “things” in use, an incredible leap from 2016’s projected 6.4 billion sensor-enabled objects. Nearly every vertical in every industry uses the IoT to support operations and improve bottom lines, and it all boils down to one important piece of the business puzzle: the supply chain.

The most important benefits of incorporating the IoT in the supply chain are obvious: By collecting and analyzing data gathered from all across the globe in warehouses and on shipping vessels, managers gain real-time insights into the health and efficiency of their operations, which in turn transforms into a wealth of information that drives decision-making.

Things in motion

Radio-frequency identification devices are especially keen examples of the IoT in action in the supply chain. These little devices are placed on objects and shipping implements and collect supply chain data about where products are in the chain, how much it costs to transport certain goods and how long it takes for items to get from point A to point B. For instance, according to The Economic Times, one Indian company, J.K. Cement, recently incorporated RFID devices into its operations. By doing this, the cement manufacturer was able to reduce time to market and optimize processes relating to transport, vendor and delivery management. In other words, the company took this key supply chain data and transformed it into a competitive advantage.

Inbound Logistics contributor Udaya Shankar noted that the IoT gives operations managers the opportunity to marry enterprise resource planning with SCM solutions in a way that connects people, processes and technology and thus improves visibility within the warehouse, among other key benefits. In-transit visibility is one area that especially benefits from the IoT and RFID sensors.

The supply chain benefits from RFID.The supply chain benefits from RFID.

Cloud enablement is key

Thanks to advancements in cloud technology, the IoT continues to expand. The cloud is the backbone of the interconnected web of sensor-enabled objects – without the virtual technology provided by the cloud, the connected things that make up the IoT wouldn’t be able to communicate with one another or aggregate the data they’re constantly collecting.

“Given the current pace of technological change, and the impetus to use digital technologies to transform established business models and operations, companies need to move now to start modernizing their supply chains with IoT-driven solutions,” wrote Dwight B. Davis for Cloud Transformation.

The IoT is creating a lot of data that needs to be stored, analyzed and categorized in order to help supply chain managers make the right recommendations to optimize their operations. This is where Master Data Management solutions come in. By bringing MDM into your operations, you can realize the true value of your data and use it to build a competitive advantage.

For more information about MDM solutions and how supply chain data can be optimized to elicit the proper insights for business success, get in touch with the experts at Inspirage today.

Sean Lee

Sean Lee | Key Contributor

Sean Lee is the Solution Architect (WMS) for the Logistics Management practice at Inspirage. Sean has 14 years of experience in the Oracle WMS/MSCA/Inventory applications. He has led or been a part of 10 implementations or upgrades from versions 10.7 – R12.2. Sean has over 17 years of business related experience as a developer, analyst, trainer and consultant.