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IoT: Driving innovation in supply chain and logistics

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IoT: Driving innovation in supply chain and logistics
Greg Cline, Head of Corporate Accounts at Investec Import Solutions

It has become widely respected that when technology is used to aid innovation, it can deliver significant value to the business bottom line. Not only do the latest disruptive technologies often aid in reducing operational costs to businesses, but they can also provide for better monitoring and control of the state of the business strategy – and customer service.

It’s not surprising then that disruptive technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), big data and cloud are increasingly becoming critical components within the transport and logistics sector to drive efficiencies in the supply chain, while also significantly improving customer service and experience management.

For example, by using cloud-based and synchronised tracking and communication services, an import company can track shipments and provide regular or instant on demand updates to their customers on, where and when the customer’s shipment is, when it will arrive, pull data from the customer’s shipment history for reporting processes, as well as manage the company’s supplier performance. This is all achievable through vehicles and shipment containers being connected with sensors that share the data instantly.

As data increasingly becomes a very meaningful commodity, by adopting these disruptive technologies and thereby gaining access to more and immediate information about their own operations, companies in this space have greater foresight for the strategic management of their import supply chain and improved control of their supplier relationships, costs and availability of product. And, thanks to having detailed information right down to container level, importers are able to manage their inventory even whilst goods are in transit.

In addition, having access to connected and customised dashboards and import orders allows for access to a snapshot of information importers wish to see – and an option to select from a variety of interactive graphics, which allows them to see critical information upfront – ensuring they can analyse trends graphically and make strategic decisions. Tracking shipments also becomes hassle free as technology allows for real time tracking and pinning of shipment and having site of full container inventories while the shipment is currently on route, as well as plan for future shipment, are some of the benefits that technology can bring to the industry.

In fact, all importers and suppliers of product should have an online view as to what is the fastest or cheapest route to market – and access to this information in their pockets and their hands, giving them complete visibility. Such systems provide transparency and go a long way to ensuring all processes are streamlined, which also bodes immense benefits for the import business, including;

  • Securing efficiencies from online rates markets
  • Purchasing of services online
  • Transparency throughout the supply chain with predictability regarding timings and pricing
  • Identify key learnings to avoid potential risks or capitalise on opportunities
  • Improve customer service deliver and thereby customer experience management
  • Reducing any delays or inefficiencies in the supply chain, and
  • Capacity to improve forward planning

Making use of IoT technology or applications therefore can aid in the support for industry growth and development. Essentially what IoT technology does is increase the amount of competition in various industries and pushes companies to really assess the industry they are in and look at what other businesses are doing to improve their services. Such boundary spanning encourages businesses to look at new ways of how they can eliminate any threat towards their business and utilise smart technology in a different way to stand out from the rest.

It is clear that through such digitised services, companies operating in the transport and logistics sector can reap many benefits. And, those companies in this sector who really want to drive their operational efficiencies should look to partner with a service provider who is committed to transforming supply chain functions – by empowering their clients to focus on the core marketing and sales aspects of their business. A service provider who combines the financial and physical supply chains onto one digital platform using innovative technology that can be accessed anywhere and every time.

By Greg Cline, Head of Corporate Accounts at Investec Import Solutions

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