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IoT will transform supply chain!

Global logistics providers see the Internet of Things (IoT) as a top priority for transforming the supply chain, with 79 percent expecting it to deliver greater insight and efficiencies

The latest research from Inmarsat shows that transport companies are actively exploring a wide range of associated technologies, including machine learning, robotics and 3D printing, to help them improve their operations and offer a greater level of service to customers.

Transport and logistics businesses are investing in internet-based smart technologies to help them take advantage of the wealth of opportunities offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This is according to research data collected by Inmarsat, the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, which reveals that the sector is prioritising IoT, machine learning and robotics to increase efficiencies across the supply chain.

Inmarsat’s report on The Future of IoT in Enterprise, featuring responses collected by Vanson Bourne from 100 large global transportation companies, found that respondents see IoT as the top priority in their approach to digital transformation, with 36 percent having already deployed IoT-based solutions, and a further 45 percent expecting to roll the technology out by 2019.

The research further revealed that transport companies are rapidly exploring a wide range of other next-generation technologies in the pursuit of digital transformation. The most popular are machine learning (37 percent), robotics (37 percent) and 3D printing (29 percent).

The supply chain looks set to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of this drive towards digital technologies, with 14 percent already reporting visibility and efficiency improvements in their supply chains and a further 65 percent expecting to achieve this in future.

Commenting on the findings, Mike Holdsworth, director of transport at Inmarsat Enterprise, says that the industry is clearly making significant strides towards digital transformation.

“We are seeing IoT-based solutions, used in conjunction with robotics, automation and machine learning, helping to transform the way that goods are manufactured, stored and delivered. Companies that proactively invest in these technologies will be able to facilitate more secure and profitable operations across their supply chain,” he tells FOCUS.

According to Holdsworth, connected machines, can quickly locate and retrieve stock. “They can also self-navigate through any environment and make automatic route corrections. Based on real-time information, updates will prove invaluable for any logistics organisation,” he continues.

“Smart robots and unmanned aerial drones, that work without rest breaks, carry heavier loads and quickly bypass areas of heavy traffic or congestion, will be hugely important. They will enhance supply chain management, while their ability to self-diagnose faults and schedule predictive repairs will be vital for minimising downtime and reducing maintenance costs,” he adds.

Holdsworth says data-driven smart machines, that use sensors to transmit and receive information, will need to remain in constant communication through every stage of the worldwide supply chain to be effective.

“However, this can be especially challenging in ‘blackspots’ with little to no mobile coverage. For logistics companies to access the full value of internet-based solutions, the importance of reliable, continuous connectivity cannot be underestimated, and this is only achievable through a dedicated satellite communication technology,” he notes.

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.

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