With ever changing business landscape and unforeseen circumstances disrupting supply chain, running a business is getting harder and harder. Adding the post pandemic customer behavioral changes, increased customer expectations, it is now extremely crucial that businesses start using technology to stay competitive. You can’t run a profitable business where you run out of stock for days and the business next door is attracting your customer. Hence businesses need to invest in technologies like RFID, IoT, BLE, LPWAN etc. to create a robust supply chain that can handle supply chain interruptions or prevent them from happening.
Various businesses have their supply chain network spread over many countries such as China, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, etc. and various factors including labor shortage, wage demands, protests, holidays, pandemic like the corona virus, regional politics etc. effectively disrupt the supply chain.
Let’s see how businesses, using technology and planning, can create robust supply chain, prevent disruptions, and become profitable in the face of fierce competition from business next door:
First of all, let’s see What is IoT technology?
IoT is short for Internet of Things and it essentially means to join physical devices to the digital world. IoT, itself is not a technology but it makes objects smart by connecting them to other devices over the internet. Hence the name, ‘Internet of Things.’ Technologies like Wi-Fi, NFC, RFID, Bluetooth, LoRa, LoRaWAN, BLE are the primary IoT technologies powering the domestic and business world.
At present, there are IoT 15B devices, connecting the world and it is forecast to reach 29B by 2030. From smartphone, smart tap and smart kitchen appliances, to smart tags, RFID readers, BLE shelves, smart carts, etc. IoT technology has become all encompassing.
How Internet of Things (IoT) can help with supply chain disruptions?
The major factors that lead to supply chain disruptions are not just limited to local factors. It could be anything from wage demands, labor shortages, and protests to power shortages, pandemic lockdowns, shipping delays and cost inflations, port congestions and scarcity of transportation means as well.
While some problems cannot be solved by Internet of things, it can certainly help businesses create a digital supply chain infrastructure that is agile and equipped with predictive analytics, able to forecast supply chain disruptions. Businesses can use these reports and insights to take decisive actions and cushion the blow.
IoT can help with shipping delays
Businesses can deploy IoT technologies like BLE and RFID for real-time monitoring of shipping of raw materials as well as finished goods. GPS can also help in this regard. Many successful multinational brands like Apple and Honda have their manufacturing plants in various developing and developed countries spread all over the globe and more often than not they face supply chain disruptions in the form of shipping delays. IoT can help you tag various consignments and provide you with 360 degree visibility into your product movement.
IoT can help with labor shortages and rising wages
Use of technology such as RFID and Bluetooth Low Energy beacons can help you automate many tasks and create a less human dependent supply chain. In the face of labor shortages, investment in automation is the only thing that can help. By tagging articles and packages and containers with RFID tags, you can easily take inventory count; keep record of inbound and outbound consignments even with low work force.
Reduce costs with IoT
IoT can also help with cost reductions when it comes to supply chain operations. Labor shortages and thus increase in wages and wage demands can certainly disrupt supply chain and create bottlenecks at various points in the supply chain network. With IoT led automation throughout the network, businesses can reduce costs significantly.
IoT for asset tracking
Use of IoT to track assets is significantly on the rise. With increasing customer demand to track and update on their delivery consignments, IoT can certainly be of help. Use of RFID tags, in particular, can help you help with lack of asset visibility in supply chain and businesses can also improve customer experience by updating the,m throughout the journey of the product, form factory to door step or like they say, from factory to fork (if it’s a food product).
IoT based asset tracking can also make businesses better prepared to supply chain disruption and prepare for contingencies.
When supply chain and logistics challenges are as complex as in modern times, as abrupt as in modern times, businesses must be prepared. Use of IoT technologies like RFID, BLE and LoRaWAN can help.