Despite concerns about possible trade wars, the amount of goods traded around the world – and the number and size of the supply chains through which these goods flow – continues to grow. For example, the World Trade Organization (WTO) anticipates strong merchandise trade volume growth of 4.4 percent in 2018, in part thanks to strong economic growth around the world. If enterprises want supply chains that allow them to succeed in today’s trade-dependent economy, supply chain and logistics managers must optimize asset control and tracking systems to avoid shipping delays, production bottlenecks, insufficient inventories and, ultimately, lost sales.
New supply chain asset tracking solutions that take advantage of sensors to collect real-time data for up-to-the-minute location awareness and new operational insights promise to deliver more goods faster, more consistently and at less expense. The potential rewards are huge – a recent report found that $1.9 trillion of economic value could be created by the use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and asset tracking solutions in the global supply chain and logistics sector. However, to build these asset tracking solutions, OEMs and system integrators must overcome key technical challenges.
For example, many containers and pallets are transported through remote areas with poor connectivity and limited global positioning system (GPS) coverage. They may also be stored indoors, reducing GPS tracking effectiveness. Attempts to use tracking devices have also been held back by high power consumption, which reduces the life of their batteries, making them expensive and impractical to use for many asset tracking use cases.
However, new IoT technologies, including advanced wireless modules and SIMs specifically designed for IoT use cases, are enabling a new generation of asset tracking devices to allow tracking even in very challenging environments. They also support lower power consumption, which results in longer battery life and a higher ROI for these supply chain asset tracking solutions.
Asset tracking systems built with these new technologies offer significant benefits to supply chain and logistics managers. Consider the complex supply chain of automobile manufacturing, which requires the coordination and timely delivery of thousands of components. IoT asset tracking can monitor the entire lifecycle of these assets from a single pane of glass, enabling extremely efficient responses to any disruption in the supply chain. In the medical industry, this precise tracking can also support increasingly complex regulatory requirements related to the condition of shipments. Precise IoT asset tracking can reduce the $30 billion a year lost to cargo theft, while a more efficient supply chain also improves inventory management, enabling companies to reduce the amount of idle stock in their warehouses, deliver the right products to their customers when they want it and reduce the time employees waste scrambling to find missing assets. New asset tracking systems can even help companies create new revenue streams by using IoT devices on their assets to devise new services or pricing models.
The first consideration in developing an asset tracking system is choosing a technology vendor that can deliver a device-to-cloud solution (DTC). DTC solutions ensure interoperability across hardware, software and the network, whether the company is building its own asset tracking application or buying a pre-built asset tracking application. In both cases, end-to-end DTC solutions will make it easier to bring together data from various IoT devices, so that this can be collated and managed from a single operational dashboard. DTC solutions also simplify collection and analysis of this data for insights that can be used to improve supply chain efficiency. In addition, DTC solutions reduce the chance of security gaps emerging between the device, network and cloud, allowing companies to better safeguard their asset tracking devices and data. Further, DTC solutions enable companies to use the cloud to simplify deployment and maintenance of IoT devices, while supporting easy implementation of new asset tracking capabilities.
It is also essential to insist on a vendor that possesses strong experience building IoT DTC solutions, along with a broad existing IoT ecosystem. Many vendors are just breaking ground in IoT, and their level of experience in building out global end-to-end solutions and the extent of their partner ecosystem can make the difference between a project that succeeds and one that fails.
Sierra Wireless has been a pioneer in developing IoT solutions and offers all the essential hardware, software and services that supply chain and logistics managers need to build a complete IoT-enabled asset tracking solution, including:
Being able to accurately track assets as they move through global supply chains can provide enterprises with powerful competitive advantages. With Sierra Wireless and its DTC solutions platform, which incorporate the latest GNSS, Smart SIM and LPWA technologies, these enterprises can deploy mobile asset tracking systems that digitally transform their supply chains. With the valuable insights that asset tracking solutions provide, enterprises can reduce product theft and damage, lower inventories and deliver better customer service. They can even use these systems to create new business models and not just transform their enterprise’s supply chain, but the way they create and deliver value.
There is $1.9 trillion in value waiting to be created by enterprises able to fully utilize IoT devices and asset tracking solutions. The question is – which supply chain and logistics managers will do so?
Read the Sierra Wireless white paper, How IoT Enables Mobile Asset Tracking Throughout the Supply Chain and Start with Sierra to find out more about how Sierra Wireless’ complete line of IoT solutions can help you reinvent your asset tracking system to deliver more assets, faster, more securely and at a lower cost.
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