Omnichain's Neil Soni discusses how the Internet of Things (IoT) generates extensive data on end-to-end supply operations—data that organizations can use to fuel intelligent process automation.
We live in a world filled with smart things—objects and devices that can collect extensive data on our physical interactions and environments. Such data gives us deeper, newfound insights that help enrich and improve our everyday lives. For instance, you can now monitor energy consumption within the smart home to find ways to reduce usage. Looking to be more active? Your smartphone or smartwatch can give you tons of metrics on your health and activity.
This myriad of technologies is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). And it’s not only making a huge impact in our personal lives, but also global industries.
- In agriculture, farmers can put smart devices in their fields to track water levels, soil moisture and other metrics to optimize crop yield and output.
- In manufacturing, plants can outfit their production lines with internet-connected sensors and gauges to collect process data for enhanced quality control.
- In healthcare, doctors can get real-time patient data and alerts from connected medical ventilators or cardiac monitors for timelier, proactive care.
In this blog post, we’ll look at the transformative impact of IoT on one industry in particular—which incidentally touches practically all other industries—supply chain.
IoT connected devices in the supply chain
There are numerous sensors, beacons and devices that can be installed throughout the supply chain, providing organizations detailed information about a product’s lifecycle.
When it comes to food, IoT devices can be installed to collect and share data on environmental conditions—like temperature and humidity—within production sites and warehouses. Similar devices can be installed within delivery vehicles so you can proactively catch if there are conditions in transport that would pose risks for foodborne illness. In such cases, IoT enables far safer food supply chains, where companies can proactively prevent unsafe products from reaching store shelves.
To continue along the lines of transportation—whether you’re shipping products to stores or direct to consumers—you can install devices to transmit real-time GPS information on truck location. This provides more accurate order tracking and estimates of delivery time—information that’s important to and appreciated by stakeholders and consumers alike. With location information, you can also anticipate any delays and find the fastest alternate route for last-mile delivery, ensuring customer satisfaction.
Before the advent of IoT, we couldn’t get this level of actionable insight into the supply chain nor take such proactive measures. And now, IoT data doesn’t have to rest in a vacuum, i.e. restricted to purposes at the supplier, manufacturing or transportation level, thanks to blockchain.
IoT and blockchain in the supply chain
Blockchain provides a distributed ledger that connects and decentralizes the data from various systems across the supply chain—IoT data included. There’s no need for complicated integrations, as the data is simply aggregated in a shared location between stakeholders. Further, the data logged on a distributed ledger is tamperproof and immutable, which makes it trustworthy. What you get is holistic supply chain management, where all stakeholders work cohesively together, informed by real-world data.
By bringing IoT and blockchain together, you can attain:
- Visibility into your supply chain from end to end, which supports better decision-making
- Flexibility to adapt and pivot operations to current market conditions
- Improved accountability and trust amongst all stakeholders
In essence, blockchain serves as a connectivity layer, meshing together once disparate data and making it accessible for orchestrating the entire supply chain and driving it towards desired outcomes. Like you have a smart home or a smartwatch, this is smart supply chain management.