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IoT in the Supply Chain: Anticipating the Demands of the Future

How are RFID and the Internet of Things bringing the supply chain concept into the future?
By Pratik Dholakiya
Nov 15, 2017

The future is certainly bright for the Internet of Things (IoT)-connected supply chain. The sector is expected to explode within the next few years, with IoT devices outnumbering people 26 to one by 2020.

Nearly every industry has benefitted from IoT integration. Optimized devices significantly help to increase supply chain efficiency. According to an IDC and SAP report, most industries will be able to measurably increase productivity by an impressive 15 percent. Here is how the IoT is bringing the very concept of the supply chain into the future.

Measure Inventory Orders
IoT devices in warehouses have the ability to provide inventory managers with an incredibly accurate measurement of demand. Many manufacturers are utilizing the power of RFID technology to track which items are leaving the shelves or moving to another location. Radio frequency identification (RFID) uses tags that are scanned by connected devices to identify individual items and track their locations.

Some companies have gone as far as to incorporate cameras to record data and achieve even more accurate results when it comes to inventory management. Thomas Pink, a luxury clothing retailer, recently partnered with a technology company that uses cameras to measure and interpret inventory data. These cameras are linked with the RFID tags on each clothing item, so any movement triggers the cameras into action. By using cameras within retail locations, the company can visually track the movements and usage of each item, so store managers know exactly which areas need restocking for future orders.

Shipment Tracking
Most of the biggest names in logistics are now using IoT devices to provide highly accurate shipment tracking and delivery schedules. Cisco and DHL have both estimated that implementing these systems has created nearly $2 trillion in economic value for global supply chains.

This type of technology provides assurance for large or expensive shipments, as senders can obtain real-time information about a parcel's exact location. It also helps businesses to stay on track for deadlines and expedited items. The accuracy IoT systems provide will help supply chains keep up with ever-increasing demands. By 2018, global shipping is expected to increase by 20 percent. IoT tracking systems will certainly play a large role in the future of logistics around the world.

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