Your supply chain is the pulse of your eCommerce business, from the moment your products are created and shipped your way until you’ve sent them on to their final destinations.
It’s no wonder, then, that some people have found faster, smarter and more connected ways to deal with the problems behind supply chain management and order fulfillment using the Internet of Things (the “IoT”).
According to Inbound Logistics, an estimated 5.5 million new devices are connected to the Internet daily, fundamentally changing the way your supply chain operates. The IoT makes fulfillment more accurate, faster and cheaper, that’s why you want to find a 3rd party logistics (3PL) company who is connected and data-driven.
Where You’ll Find Connected Devices
You may be surprised where these connected devices are already being used.
For example, many 3rd party logistics firms use bar code scanning devices that immediately report information on order fulfillment to a central database. With that data, the fulfillment company in charge of your warehousing and distribution knows exactly where your products are going, how many of which SKU is headed out and even when you’ll need to reorder inventory. But that’s not even the start of where connected devices might show up!
Here are a few other technologies that are increasingly connected:
- Warehouse robots. Units that work tirelessly 24/7 and don’t even need light to collect items for pick, pack and ship are being implemented in warehouses near you right now. These robots can take inventory and collect items for the shipping floor, giving human packers more time to focus on getting orders out the door.
- Yard drones. Knowing where your trailers are and what condition they’re in is another vital part of maintaining a supply chain. Yard drones can scan trailers as they come in, locate them in a yard and update yard management systems in real-time, all with minimal human intervention!
There’s literally no room for human error since trailers are scanned by the drones as they fly over.
- Driverless trucks. Although they’re not on the road just yet, driverless trucks are deep into development. The idea is to get more shipping space with fewer drivers, solving the problem of an increasingly contracted driver pool. Drivers would be able to control an additional truck, or potentially a whole fleet, headed to the same port of call.
Expanding shipping space like this will ultimately lead to cheaper shipping costs. The entire fulfillment world is watching this tech with bated breath.
Your supply chain is a lot more flexible and intelligent than you think! With so many new devices coming online every day, your supply chain is only getting stronger and faster.