The relationship between connectivity and logistics
Before smartphones, the expression “being connected” was almost a metaphor
The first half of 2007 was coming to an end and on June 29th a product changed world history. Do you remember this date? It should, because we are talking about the Iphone, the trend created by Steve Jobs changed the history of mobile telephony and the internet. Today, all major industries in the sector manufacture smartphones.
According to a report by the Gartner Group, in the fourth quarter of 2020 Apple overtook Samsung, dominating 20% of the world market. The South Korean giant comes soon after, with 16% and the Chinese Xiaomi is in third place, with 11%. Big brands such as Nokia and LG have left the sector. Others, like the pioneer Motorola, no longer have the same commercial relevance in global sales.
But why is the launch of the iPhone a watershed? Simple. Before him, surfing the internet was a ritual based on access in front of a computer. Now this can be done in the palm of your hand, anywhere, with all the comfort, taking advantage of the nascent market, several apps have emerged, such as Netflix, Uber and Ifood, creating consumption habits.
Before smartphones, the expression “being connected” was almost a metaphor. Today, it can be used literally. To what extent this is good, only the future will tell. But no one can deny that we are talking about an excellent work tool. So efficient that it changed virtual reality, intensifying investments in technology and positively radicalizing concepts such as Logistics 4.0.
Connectivity and logistics
The revolution in data transmission that has occurred over the last 15 years has meant that the process of technological convergence, present in the Iphone, has been expanded exponentially, modifying the operational reality of the universe that logistics is today, bringing concepts such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), which made it possible (through sensors on goods, shelves, buildings, motorcycles, cars, trucks) to control the entire Supply Chain in real time.
In short, Steve Jobs’ concept changed the corporate world, disruptively. All this technology is active and today keeps the logistics operators connected 24 hours a day. For example, connectivity allows scanning the inventory of goods present in a Distribution Center at any time, as well as its constant updating, with a margin of error close to zero.
Cameras on board trucks, both in the cabins and in the trunks, make it possible to monitor the employee’s work, ensuring not only their good performance, but also their safety. Humidity and temperature sensors guarantee the preservation of goods in warehouses and cargo transport vehicles, as well as the identification of products by weight, to know if they were placed in the correct place.
This connectivity is responsible for allowing and designing for the future the use of autonomous vehicles, controlled remotely or by computer, by artificial intelligence. Experiences like this already allow, currently, types of logistics, such as the use of drones to carry out deliveries in the last mile of large centers, with serious traffic problems until reaching the final consumer. A survey carried out by Cisco and DHL reveals that, over the next ten years, new technologies around the IoT could add up to US$ 1.9 trillion in investments.
In 2017, during an event promoted by AMCHAM, the Supply Chain partner of the EY consultancy, Leonardo Lacerda, said that the high connectivity capacity of current technology will influence logistics in the handling of products, equipment, warehouse security and loading of vehicles. The excerpt below was taken from the AMCHAM website and details the speaker’s view on this subject:
- “ Product — the lower cost of RFID tags (radio frequency identification) enables mass program in products. The quantity and quality of logistics information, such as location, movement and even product temperature, will feed the logistics management system in real time. In addition, it will allow the company to eliminate secondary processes. One of them is the conference of products and orders made by different areas.
- Equipment — fixed, and mobile machinery used in warehouses may contain sensors that allow you to remotely monitor its performance. The speed of a forklift truck and its location can be monitored and, from there, take immediate action. Such as, for example, warning the operator that he is driving above the permitted limit or that the engine needs maintenance. The technology, widely used in the mining and construction industries, is now evaluate for use in warehousing operations.
- Security — the technology also allows you to connect to the RFID of products and employees. A garment can have a built-in RFID tag and interact with other equipment. The program should happen soon in warehouses for security reasons, limiting access to authorized areas and interacting with forklifts to avoid accidents.
- Loading (outdoor environment) — sensors on transport vehicles can connect with warehouses and make loading of goods more accurate. Lacerda compares the advantages of connectivity to the current situation, where it is common to have unforeseen load formation. Trucks are often late arriving at the warehouses and the load they were supposed to carry is already separated and taking up space that could be used to load another truck that arrived on time.”
Leonardo Lacerda also ensures that there is a reduction in automation and connectivity costs, which are currently more accessible from a financial point of view. For him, the solutions evaluate on the market ensure that the return on the project is in the short to medium term. I mean, it’s worth it.
Solutions for logistics
According to the Atech website, “data from The Future of IoT in Enterprise report, 2017, reveal that most (96%) of the organizations in this segment believe that ubiquitous connectivity is the basis for the implementation of this technology, however, 40% of these companies identified connectivity issues as one of their biggest challenges.
The lack of integration with existing systems is one of the main points that hinder the implementation of the internet of things and, consequently, connectivity solutions in logistics processes. It is not difficult to find companies working with old systems that are unable to support connectivity solutions that work with the large volume of data collected by following all stages of the supply chain.”
This means that these companies increasingly need to invest in modern solutions focused on logistics and supply chain management to take more advantage of connectivity solutions, which contribute to the development of highly integrated warehouses, guaranteeing transport accuracy, item tracking and reverse logistics.
Among these solutions are advanced computer programs such as TMS (Transportation Management System), WMS (Warehouse Management System) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). After all, to manage big data and the large volume of data generated by the IoT, it is necessary to have programs capable of reading such information.
Recently, for example, Embratel and Nokia (which now handle telephone communication) were contracted by Rumo to connect all the company’s locomotives, wherever they are, to the operations center, either via satellite or the 4G network. This way, Rumo has real-time control of all its thousand compositions.