Huge scope for transport and logistics companies to improve service and cut costs
There is an almost endless array of opportunities for IoT to be used by courier companies and logistics providers to improve
visibility, customer satisfaction levels and cut costs.
For example, monitoring driving patterns using inbuilt computers in courier vans. If this identifies a large amount of time spent waiting in congested areas, or to make a filtered turn, routes could be planned to avoid these delays.
Also, sensors could be added to vehicles to monitor transportation conditions of fresh produce consignments. If the temperature at any time rises beyond a set tolerance level, the retailer could be sent an advance notification to ensure the goods are sold off quickly to prevent stocks from being reduced in the store. This application would be equally useful for medical couriers to ensure consignments are transported at the right temperatures.
There are many other interesting applications to consider for transport and logistics. What about vending machines that send signals to the distribution centre when stocks are running low? Or vehicles that remind the fleet manager when maintenance checks are due?
This idea could be further extended to automatically book service visits with engineering teams, trigger a request to stores for spare parts and book the vehicle out for commission for maintenance on the day of the service.
IoT will improve the ‘doorstep experience’ for retailers
For logistics providers and couriers working with retailers, here are two more IoT application ideas to maximise the ‘doorstep experience’ for customers.
For couriers shipping e-commerce orders, a sensor could be inserted into a box containing fragile goods during shipment and would automatically alert the sender and recipient if the box had been dropped in transit. For the customer, they have the opportunity to reject the item immediately rather than risk having to organise a later collection.
And for the retailer, they can offer a better service to customers by being able to proactively manage expectations of damaged goods arriving and organise a swift replacement.
Again helping to improve service levels, a tracker fitted to every vehicle could help customers waiting for e-commerce deliveries to identify exactly where on the delivery route their parcel is and therefore get an accurate ‘ETA’. This would be a significant improvement to the current level of information available to consumers who can simply go to a retailer’s online portal and be aware their goods are ‘being shipped’.
To make these ideas a reality, companies need three main capabilities. 1) Connectivity – to allow the devices to communicate with each other, 2) Remote device management – for initial deployment plus ongoing performance monitoring and maintenance and 3) Standardised web APIs – to provide a means for data captured to be interpreted by different applications.
In the majority of cases, IoT applications will be delivered over the web, as a cloud based solution. This automatically takes care of connectivity and management issues, since any number or combination of devices can quickly be set up and managed remotely.
Over the coming year we’ll be working closely with customers to identify how they can bringing together existing tracking methods, using RFID, barcodes and GPS with other devices to provide hybrid IoT solutions and benefit from continuous visibility and monitoring capability.
Suddenly that talking lamppost doesn’t seem so farfetched after all.
Author: David Upton, Managing Director, DA Systems Ltd
David Upton is a talented software visionary and technology entrepreneur. He founded DA Systems in January 1999 after identifying a need amongst transport and logistics companies for real-time proof of delivery software to support the growing e-commerce delivery business. Since its formation, DA Systems has grown to become the UK’s leading independent provider of mobile field data and transport management solutions, employing a team of almost 30 people. For more information, visitwww.da-systems.co.uk
Elon Musk's Boring Co. planning wider tunnels for freight
Elon Musk’s drilling outfit The Boring Company could be shifting its focus towards subterranean freight and logistics solutions, according to reports.
A Boring Co. pitch deck seen and shared by Bloomberg depicts plans to construct wider tunnels designed to accommodate shipping containers.
Founded by Tesla CEO Musk in 2016, the company initially stated its mission was to offer safer, faster point-to-point transport for people, particularly in cities plagued by traffic congestion. It also planned longer tunnels to ferry passengers between popular destinations across the US.
The Boring Co. completed its first commercial project earlier this year in April. The 1.7m tunnel system is designed to move professionals between convention centres in Las Vegas using Tesla EVs. It says the Las Vegas Convention Centre Loop can cut travel time between venues from 45 minutes to just two.
Boring Co.'s new freight tunnels
The Boring Co.'s new tunnel designs would allow freight to be transported on purpose built platforms, labelled as “battery-powered freight carriers”. The document shows that, though the containers could technically fit within its current 12-foot tunnels, wider tunnels would be more efficient. Designs for a new tunnel, 21 feet in diameter, show that they can comfortably accommodate two containers side-by-side, with a one-foot gap between them.
The Boring Co.’s new drilling machine, dubbed Prufrock, can tunnel at a rate of one mile per week, which is six times faster than its previous machine, and is designed to ‘porpoise’ - mimicking the marine animal by ‘diving’ below ground and reemerging once the tunnel is complete.
Tesla’s supply chain woes
Tesla is facing its own supply chain and logistic issues. The EV manufacturer has raised the price of its vehicles, with CEO Musk confirming the incremental hike was a result of “major supply chain pressure”. Musk replied to a disgruntled Twitter user, confused as to why prices were rising while features were being removed from the cars, saying the “raw materials especially” were a big issue.
Car manufacturing continues to be one of the industries hit hardest by a global shortage in semiconductor chips. While China’s chip manufacturing levels hit an all-time high in May, and the US is proposing a 25% tax credit for chip manufacturers, demand still outstrips supply. Automakers including Volkswagen and Audi have again said they expect reduced vehicle output in the next quarter due to a lack of semiconductors, with more factory downtime likely.
Top Image credit: The Boring Company / @boringcompany