4 benefits IoT can bring to logistics

  • IoT can help businesses gain efficiencies in distribution with data that can be used to monitor product quality and fuel costs.

  • Information from IoT devices also can help companies anticipate customer demand and keep popular merchandise in stock during peak sales periods.

The logistics and shipping industry has been an early adopter of the Internet of Things (IoT). For example, many shipping companies use GPS-enabled devices to estimate delivery times with greater accuracy. But that’s not the only benefit IoT brings to logistics. Here are four other examples.

1. Quality control

It is vital that products such as perishable foods or medicines be transported at specific temperature ranges to maintain product integrity. Wireless sensors installed inside shipping containers can detect temperature fluctuations that threaten these items, allowing products that might be damaged or compromised to be identified before they reach their destination.

2. Improved safety

Installing cameras and sensors on forklifts can help these large machines communicate with each other. These devices not only can tell a forklift the precise location of all other forklifts on a production floor, they also can scan the area for blocked pathways. This helps reduce accidents and prevent collisions in busy warehouses.

3. Smarter inventory

Increases in product demand can quickly deplete inventory levels and lead to missed sales. To counter this, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are placed on individual items to track product. The tags automatically transmit data to an inventory system. When there is an unexpected run on an item, the tag detects it and signals the warehouse management system (WMS). The WMS then alerts the warehouse manager, who can anticipate the increased demand before an item goes out of stock.

4. Lower fuel costs

The final stage of a product’s journey from production to the consumer is often referred to as “the last mile.” It’s a critical part of the logistics cycle when the product must be sent along the most efficient path to the buyer. Outfitting shipping trucks to receive real-time traffic information helps delivery drivers avoid congested roads, reducing drive time and cutting down on fuel costs.

As the technology behind IoT matures, many businesses will realize even greater efficiency in product distribution. The logistics sector is a natural fit for IoT, and by leveraging IoT technologies in their distribution cycles, businesses can receive valuable data and streamline their processes. And they may also be rewarded with another precious resource—time.


Pat Hester is a freelance writer from Kansas City, MO. He writes on a variety of topics including technology, manufacturing, workforce collaboration, marketing, and engineering. Pat has served as a columnist for The Kansas City Star and is a frequent contributor to LinkedIn. He is the author of this blog and all opinions are his own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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