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The simple guide to understanding IoT’s role in tomorrow’s supply chains

IoT is going to be God’s gift to the world because it’ll make inanimate objects talk — no matter where they are in the world — with whoever they have permission to talk to. Here’s everything you need to know if you about IoT in the world of logistics.

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Global logistics will be so much better off with IoT. Image: Unsplash
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IoT is going to be God’s gift to the world because it’ll make inanimate objects talk — no matter where they are in the world — with whoever they have permission to talk to.

But the devil is in the detail. Unlike all of the other new and emerging technologies such as cloud, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, and even quantum computing, IoT does something nobody could ever imagine before.

IoT gives businesses, whether they’re shipping lines, airlines, railway companies, regulators, or anybody else, control over their assets and it makes it possible for them to stay informed about the condition of those assets, no matter where they go.

That means, a refrigerated container carrying medicines, set to maintain the temperature at two-degrees centigrade for the duration of the journey from Canada to Sri Lanka, can tell the shipping line owner if there’s a power failure and the generator fails to kick in, if the insulation fails and the temperature cannot be maintained, or if there are any other eventualities whatsoever — all so that necessary action can be taken, immediately.

If you’re a visual learner, here’s a video to reinforce what we just discussed:

Now, before we dive further into why the internet of things (IoT) is such a boon to the world of logistics, let’s learn what IoT is in the first place.

Drilling into the internet of things (IoT)

IoT, or the internet of things, is a simple technology that uses sensors (often inexpensive sensors) to transmit information about objects back to the owner.

Usually, it can relay back its own GPS location, the temperature, pressure, and other characteristic details about itself, and changes in those characteristic data points.

This holds true for any kind of cargo on any mode of transport. Whether by road, rail, sea, or air, sensors can transmit critical information that can help keep tabs on the object.

Now, it’s important to highlight that the sensors don’t always come bundled up together. So, if you want to track the pressure in a certain container or cabin, you’ll need a pressure sensor. If you want to track the temperature, you’ll need a sensor to track the temperature. And so on and so forth.

However, given the trillions of dollars involved in the logistics business, there are some vendors who are creating specialized all-in-one trackers to make IoT easier to use — but many are still in the early stages.

Hence, pioneers such as DHL and Maersk are building up their IoT capabilities using the decades of business and industry knowledge they have to build the solutions they need.

Challenges associated with the internet of things

Connectivity and cybersecurity are two of the biggest concerns when it comes to IoT.

When we’re talking about sensors relaying back information, it’s obvious that there has to be a way for them to send that information back to the company or business that owns the asset/object.

In the case of a connected car or a smart camera installed in your office, that connectivity is easier than it is on a ship or an aircraft. There are many reasons for this, but it all boils down to the size, cost, and life of the sensor.

Sensors that are able to use existing technologies such as 3G/4G and WiFi signals often need their batteries to be charged frequently, and are usually larger. If they’re to use other modes of communication — such as satellite communication — their cost of operation increases drastically.

The solution? Well, it might be 5G. Experts believe 5G will democratize IoT in new and exciting ways. The truth is, there’s no commercial solution in the market that has enough data to prove that 5G can make IoT a reality in the world of logistics.

Next comes cybersecurity. Sensors gather, collect, and transmit data. That data, if intercepted by unauthorized persons, can cause tremendous harm to the industry.

Say, for example, pirates engage the services of hackers on the black market online to gain access to information on various ships, they can target ships with high value items and will know the exact location, speed, and condition of the shipment — all of which can help them orchestrate an attack on the vessel and cause significant damage.

Securing IoT sensors isn’t an easy task either. In order to protect them, the communication has to be encoded and encoding isn’t cheap. Further, encoding takes time and changes data in ways that have an impact on how it is processed and used.

The fact is, we don’t have an answer to either of these problems right now. However, the logistics industry is resiliant. In 2020, IoT has become a commercially feasible solution that revolutionizes the logistics industry.

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Logistics & Supply Chain

SCG Logistics connects enterprise data & apps with SnapLogic

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SCG Logistics connects enterprise data & apps with SnapLogic. Image: Pexels
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SnapLogic, provider of the #1 Intelligent Integration Platform, announced that SCG Logistics has standardized on SnapLogic’s leading cloud integration platform to support its process automation, data analytics, and digital transformation initiatives. SCG Logistics, Thailand’s leading provider of distribution and transportation management services, has deployed SnapLogic to integrate core operational and analytics systems and automate business-critical processes across the enterprise, enabling the company to provide exceptional services to its customers around the world.

SCG Logistics leverages its efficient management system, extensive business network, best-in-class transportation and warehouse services, and state-of-the-art technology to provide unparalleled service to its customers. The company employs an order management system (OMS) to track and manage sales, orders, inventory, and fulfillment across multiple channels, making it easy to do business with customers via chatbots and other capabilities. The company also integrates internal SCG systems with external client systems, allowing information and process flow to be visualized across the complete value chain which drives competitiveness. In addition, the company relies on advanced analytics and data-driven insights to optimize the supply chain and improve operational efficiency.

SnapLogic is the glue that connects SCG Logistics’ many operational systems and analytics platforms. With SnapLogic as the foundation, seamless business processes and data-driven decisions enable the company to drive innovation, improve service delivery, and enhance the customer experience.

SnapLogic’s Intelligent Integration Platform uses AI-powered workflows to automate all stages of IT integration projects – design, development, deployment, and maintenance – whether on-premises, in the cloud, or in hybrid environments. The platform’s easy-to-use, self-service interface enables both expert and citizen integrators to manage all application integration, data integration, API management, B2B integration, and data engineering projects on a single, scalable platform. With SnapLogic, organizations can connect all of their enterprise systems quickly and easily to automate business processes, accelerate analytics, and drive transformation.

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Logistics & Supply Chain

Oracle launched oracle cloud SCM to empower supply chain industry 

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Oracle launched oracle cloud SCM to empower supply chain industry. Image: Oracle
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To help organizations build resilient and agile supply chains that drive innovation and growth, Oracle today announced the latest updates to Oracle Fusion Cloud Supply Chain & Manufacturing (Oracle Cloud SCM). The updates help customers increase collaboration across supply networks, proactively manage supply chain assets, and implement long-term supply chain planning.

“The last 12 months have stretched supply chains to the limit as organizations wrestle with the disruptions of COVID-19, shifting global trade agreements, rapidly changing customer expectations, and numerous other unforeseen circumstances,” said Rick Jewell, senior vice president, Oracle Applications development. “With the new capabilities within Oracle Cloud SCM, we are helping our customers navigate this complexity and build more adaptable businesses that can respond to today’s challenges and whatever comes next.”

With Oracle Cloud SCM, organizations can identify new opportunities, rethink processes, and plan and execute across the entire business. The latest features and capabilities within Oracle Cloud SCM include:

  • Oracle Logistics Digital Assistant: Provides on-the-go access to real-time supply chain information through a conversational interface that responds quickly, improves user satisfaction, and increases business efficiencies. In addition, users can now easily access order status and shipment tracking remotely without having to navigate through the Oracle Transportation Management (OTM) application or understand complicated data mappings. As a result, a supply chain manager can be informed of all in-transit orders and receive timely updates on shipments from anywhere, on any mobile device.
  • Oracle AI Planning Advisor: Uses artificial intelligence capabilities embedded within Supply Chain Planning to display recommendations that optimize new product introduction (NPI) and enable customers to respond to current and anticipated production disruptions.
  • Field Service Preventative Maintenance: Helps organizations improve the customer experience through new preventative service flows and break-fix and installation capabilities that are delivered via Service Logistics Cloud for Field Service.
  • Multi-Tier Supply Chain Collaboration: Delivers improved visibility into upstream supply to increase overall supply chain responsiveness. Oracle Supply Chain Collaboration can now synchronize upstream supply information such as on-hand balances, purchase order details, and work order details from multiple tiers of external organizations. The data is then automatically shared with Oracle Supply Planning Cloud.
  • Planning for Project-Driven Supply Chain: Optimizes supply planning for project-specific material requirements and execution of purchase orders, transfer orders, and work orders—all with project and task references. By matching demand and supply based on flexible rules, customers are able to group projects and plan at the group level when supplies can be combined across many projects.
  • New Channel Revenue Management Capabilities: Streamline and optimize trade programs by enabling organizations to create, resolve, and settle claims for deductions and overpayments. In addition, the new capabilities simplify the export of supplier programs and claims.
  • Cross-Product Procurement Enhancements: Simplify integration with external systems to help customers integrate and extend procurement processes via new and modified REST APIs. In addition, Oracle Procurement Cloud features new deep links that provide easy navigation directly to application pages without using the menu structure. These links can be leveraged in a variety of ways, including in business intelligence reports, notifications, and third-party application pages.

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Logistics & Supply Chain

Warehouse management: Can you afford downtime?

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Warehouse management: Can you afford downtime? Image: Unsplash
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We aren’t talking about personal downtime here. We are talking about those times where you have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of products stored. If these products melted, grew mold, or were otherwise damaged – that responsibility falls to you to cover. Your warehouse plays a pivotal and essential role in the supply chain, and if you aren’t ensuring you have taken every precaution possible, you might just find yourself losing out in the long run.

Of course, the first thing that you have is insurance. This will keep you covered for most eventualities. But the real dark horse when it comes to your back-up plan will be your CI Group generator. 

Planning and Preparation

No one wants to think about the disaster moment of the power going out. But there is a relief in knowing you have an industrial generator that can help you handle the situation with ease. The chances of a total power failure from natural disasters or a human-made issue aren’t as small as you might thing. The proactive step to take is to have a back-up generator and knowing how to use it long in advance of anything happening.

Power Outages

It has been reported that blackouts and power outages have been increasing since 2003. In simple terms, this means you are more likely to experience a power outage than ever before. 

Snow, ice, storm hurricanes have caused most of these outages, and other severe weather issues are some of the critical causes of power outages and general power issues. These disturbances will knock the power out to your warehouse. What comes next? The waiting game. How long before you will be back up and running? How long before you are at risk of stock issues?

Basic Generator Tips

You will have to make sure that you choose a generator that is large enough to keep your critical systems running. It is a good idea to work with a provider and let them know what you need so that you can be sure you have a generator that will suit your needs. 

Fuel is going to be a crucial part of the whole operation, and if you hadn’t already thought about now is undoubtedly the time. And in the case of a flood, have you ensured that your generator is built to keep running or at least protected.

Before you call any companies, find out all of your energy usage numbers and the equipment that would be the minimum that you need to have running. This will give them a clear understanding of your power needs. 

The very bottom line is that all businesses are going to be heavily reliant on gas and electricity to keep themselves up and running. These things are even more essential if you have extensive storage facilities that supply pharmaceuticals, hospitals, and food businesses.

And it is impossible to say that your business won’t suffer from a blackout or a power outage, so getting a generator is part of a plan that can keep your business running even in the face of disaster. 

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