Adapt your supply chain to the COVID-19 context with IOT


Raphaël ANASTHASE, Sales Director, Safecube
Published on:
Updated on:

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the fragility of global supply chains. Companies are seeking to best understand a future marked by numerous factors of uncertainty:

  • resumption of the US-China trade war,
  • bankruptcies of companies weakened by the crisis,
  • weakening of the banking sector,
  • possible second wave of the health crisis etc…

This uncertain context is forcing economic players to review their priorities. Making supply chains more resilient is an urgent need. To this end, flow monitoring solutions with IOT have advantages. Let's see why.


Better visibility on flows for a more resilient supply chain in an uncertain context

Facing uncertainty requires resilience and agility. The increasing degree of uncertainty requires faster detection of disturbances in order to remedy them as quickly as possible.

Economic players therefore need to improve visibility on their flows.

  • It is necessary to understand how the flows are actually operated.
  • It is important to be able to measure performance.
  • With the right measuring tools, it becomes possible to manage your flows more effectively.
  • Sharing information so that stakeholders can act effectively is imperative.
  • The progressive optimization of supply chain networks must be based on objective visibility data.


Data provided by IoT allows better visibility of flows

Digital technologies make it possible to improve visibility and control of logistics flows.

Among digital technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT) is gradually establishing itself as an effective tool for visibility into logistics flows.

An IoT monitoring solution for logistics flows consists of using connected objects, called trackers. These trackers have sensors that allow continuous data flow to be generated. Finally, they use communication networks allowing them to transmit the data they collect.

Several characteristics make the data generated by IoT particularly interesting:

  • The tracker being at the heart of the flow, it makes it possible to generate data directly on the goods transported.
  • Physical parameters such as location, temperature, humidity, speed, pressure, movements, shocks are directly accessible.
  • Data collection and transmission are automated with minimized latency.
  • The data received is automatically processed to standardise it and enrich it with additional data to aid decision-making.
  • Real time makes alert logic possible allowing corrective interventions as early as possible.
  • Opportunities for supply chain optimization are revealed by this new accumulated data.
  • The availability of this data and the increased capacity to share it promotes effective collaboration between stakeholders based on objective facts.


What advantages does Sigfox technology have?

The choice of the communication network is an important element in building an IoT solution. Safecube uses the Sigfox network for its monitoring solutions.

The Sigfox network is an LPWA (Low Power Wide Area) network. It offers a number of perks.

Trackers using the Sigfox network consume little energy. They therefore display autonomy of several years. The trackers can therefore be used for a long time without having to recharge them. It finally becomes possible to use them on long flows such as, for example, intercontinental flows by sea freight.

In addition, thanks to their high autonomy, the trackers can be reused many times. This offers the following advantages:

  • A more sustainable and eco-responsible solution (compared to disposable),
  • Amortization of tracker costs over a longer period (economic optimization, faster returns on investment),
  • Lightened operational implementation (no recharging or maintenance operation).

Finally, the global coverage offered by Sigfox's network makes it possible to monitor flows throughout the world, thus providing end-to-end visibility over global supply chains.


Technology must serve business challenges

IoT is just one way. Understanding the supply chain problem to be addressed is important to fully exploit the potential of IoT.

It is then necessary to identify the relevant data on which to build an effective answer to the problem posed. How to access this data? What use should you make of it? When should it be available? Which actors should have access to it?

Then the trackers are injected into the flows. They generate and transmit the relevant data. This data provides real-time, end-to-end visibility into flows.

Speed of deployment is an advantage of IoT solutions based on the Sigfox network. It allows you to quickly start collecting data, without massive investment.

The scalability of these solutions then makes it possible to increase volume if necessary.

The IoT data is then enriched with available business data, historical data and relevant external data.

AI, machine learning and data science approaches are used on cloud platforms for data collection, analysis and restitution. They make it possible to transform data into information useful for decisions and action.


How IoT is helping businesses address their challenges in the wake of Covid-19.

The COVID-19 crisis has forced businesses to focus on assessing their risks.

Companies will tend to diversify their suppliers in order to limit the risks of supply disruptions.

In addition, the bankruptcies of certain suppliers will also make it necessary to use new partners.

This involves starting new collaborations, building trust, managing the start of these new relationships and evaluating their performance.

These changes in suppliers will sometimes result in the use of new transport solutions and new trade routes not controlled by the company.

The IoT monitoring solution makes these new flows more reliable for the company and limits the associated risks.

The hunt for costs is also on in order to absorb the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis. Maintaining healthy cash flow in a context of cash reduction requires reducing expenses.

Cutting expenses is a short-term solution. Improving operational efficiency is a more sustainable solution.

The use of IoT-based visibility solutions makes it possible to quickly identify flow optimization opportunities. As an example of optimization, we can mention:

  • A better control of lead times allowing reductions in inventory in transit.
  • Improved reliability of arrival dates for better synchronization of operations.
  • Control of additional costs such as detention costs and demurrage.

Finally, increased automation in flow management allows reductions in operational costs and productivity gains: operators spend less time on flow monitoring actions. They are able to decide quicker by being alerted in real time and benefiting from decision support provided by IoT monitoring.


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