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Optimising the supply chain from A to Z with IoT

Article publié le 12 January 2021 par Patrick Cason, Managing Director of Sigfox France

In the digital age, consumer habits have evolved considerably and given rise to a demand for almost immediate satisfaction among consumers. As a rule therefore, buyers expect their desired products to be available whenever they want them and delivered in record time. According to a study carried out by OpinionWay, delivery time is one of the most important factors for French consumers. In addition, 79% of customers expect the facility to track their delivery in real time, not an unreasonable percentage when you consider that 62% of people surveyed have experienced problems with deliveries, logistics or the products themselves in recent months.

Expectations of this kind are hard to meet for the sellers, which is why players in the supply chain have to give it 100% to guarantee fast, reliable delivery. Fortunately, they can rely on the Internet of Things (IoT) to oil the wheels and track merchandise along the entire route, thus guaranteeing peak levels of availability and delivery in the shortest time.

In effect, the IoT can help improve visibility and maximise efficiency for the supply chain, from warehouse to final destination.


Inventory overview

To remain competitive, retailers must be able to meet the growing demand for instant product availability and fast, reliable delivery, directly to consumers. All retail outlets, both physical and online, therefore need to ensure they maintain adequate stocks in both their stores and their warehouses to avoid losing customers. This goes without saying of course, but it’s easier said than done.

To cope with the problem, retailers now have at their disposal IoT sensors able to provide essential information on stock levels in stores and warehouses. These sensors detect the weight of goods on the shelves and provide information for retail managers on the popularity of goods. They also serve to alert teams when items need to be restocked by the warehouse and reordered by the shop. In addition, managers can use the data captured by sensors to analyse the movement of items, and consequently establish an accurate inventory of goods that are likely to sell to avoid problems of overstocking and stockout.

Outlets like Amazon and Go already have this type of IoT technology installed. When a customer takes an item off a shelf, a weight sensor determines which item has been removed, indicating to the store manager which items are popular and how much the customer has to pay.


Detailed tracking and conditions monitoring

When a package leaves the warehouse, the consumer expects it to arrive in the condition described at the time of purchase. It goes without saying that deliveries should never contain damaged goods. Products are expected to arrive on time and in good condition, by both the retailer and the end customer.

Normally however, it’s very difficult to ascertain where a container is after it leaves the warehouse and whether it is being handled correctly. Here too, IoT devices track goods and supply valuable data such as location, temperature, humidity, shocks and tilting, providing information for quality control and traceability. This data is useful not only for detecting shipping errors, it also gives sellers the chance to rectify errors by ordering new stock and thereby prevent or minimise any unpleasant surprises for customers.

In manufacturing, IoT technology of this type is already being used by companies the world over, providing them with a detailed picture of the journey and condition of their merchandise. Michelin and Airbus are two companies that do this. Michelin has improved the management of its intercontinental transportation, maritime transport in particular, and Airbus uses a tracking solution for routing aircraft parts and other components between factories all over the world. 


Route optimisation

Getting items to their final destination in perfect condition is only half the battle – they must also be delivered on time. With so many cities now congested with traffic, it can be hard to deliver goods on time.

Placing IoT sensors on key structures in cities, such as traffic lights and technical rooms, gives delivery drivers access to data on the traffic situation so they can avoid the most congested streets and save precious time. The data collected also enables better planning for delivering multiple packages to the same person or to a central collection point, thereby reducing the number of journeys.

In conclusion, introducing IoT solutions at different levels gives sellers, shippers, suppliers and warehouse staff access to useful information to help them better meet the increasing expectations of customers.


About Sigfox

Sigfox introduced the 0G network and is the world’s leading provider of connectivity solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT). Its international network enables billions of objects to be connected to the Internet with ease, and in doing so reduces energy consumption. Sigfox’s unique approach of facilitating communication between devices and the cloud removes the three main barriers to the take-up of IoT, i.e. cost, energy consumption and scalability.

Today, the Sigfox network is available in more than 70 countries and caters for 1 billion people. ISO 9001 certified and incorporating a vast ecosystem of major IoT players and partners, Sigfox gives companies the opportunity to develop their business models towards new digital services, in key areas such as asset tracking and supply chain. Sigfox was founded in 2010 by Ludovic Le Moan and Christophe Fourtet. The company is based in France and also has offices in Madrid, Munich, Boston, Dallas, San Jose, Dubai, Singapore, Sao Paulo and Tokyo.




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