Connecting the Dots: IoT Hardware as a Game Changer in Supply Chain!

IoT Hardware

The world around us is changing rapidly, and our beloved field of supply chain management has become very dependent on innovation. Whatever trend is announced in technology, such as 3D printers, drones, artificial intelligence, augmented information, or data analysis, reality professionals immediately look for its application in procurement, transportation, and inventory management.

All these technologies make it possible to bring the product closer to the buyer, which significantly affects its value and sometimes cost. Today, we’ll discuss the role of IoT hardware in supply chains.

How IoT Affects Supply Chain Operations

Every day, a tremendous amount of information is generated in the world, which is only partially recorded by something or someone, and an even smaller part of it is used to improve the efficiency of processes.

The Internet of Things is trying to identify helpful information that can be “snatched” from the general array of constantly generated data and combined with new communication capabilities. And, since IoT is still an innovation, many possibilities for using and processing data have probably not been considered.

This trend means that many new applications and services will continue to arrive shortly as technology providers increasingly take advantage of the information that the global “network of things” can provide. We all actively use GPS, which allows us to track cars, trucks, things, and even people in real-time through our mobile phones.

There are also sensors on sensitive infrastructure elements, such as bridges that provide information about their current condition. Airlines analyze the condition of their aircraft fleet online and are ready to repair them immediately upon landing, as if at a Formula 1 pit stop. 

Various control systems can also identify defects in production to prevent them from being processed further and not cause losses or damage to reputation. Tags embedded in product containers can record and report data on the condition of the cargo and even temperature fluctuations inside the “box,” which is essential for ensuring the delivery of quality products.

Cargo Tracking Using the Internet of Things

One of the prominent trends that 3PL operators and shippers will be working on now and in the foreseeable future is the ability to know where the cargo is at any moment. The quality of service for the client depends on this, and if for you and me it is, for example, the desire to receive a gift within a given strict time frame to have time to give it, then for the B2B sector, it is a vital necessity.

Imagine a factory that is left without coal or ore and has to turn off its blast furnace. Or a large store where in the morning there are no dairy products or bread for customers – will they come to this store again for what is not there?

This technology is still in use by some companies. Tracking trailers or containers is becoming more common and commonplace, and thanks to recent technological advances, even small items, such as individual pallets or even big bags, can be tracked.

In this context of advanced cargo tracking, Eelink’s IoT-based tracking devices are pivotal in bringing these technological advancements to practical use. These sophisticated devices ensure accurate real-time tracking and monitoring, crucial for modern supply chain management and logistics

Internet of Things in the Supply Chain

The potential of IoT applications for the supply chain is enormous. Objects that can communicate with each other provide new opportunities. For example, knowing where they are at all times for docking and cross-docking or to minimize lost profits and combat the bullwhip effect.

It will also help track the supplier’s product shipment in real-time. It means you can quickly see how much and what kind of product is at each point in the chain, be it the ocean, the highway, or the store shelf, meaning you always have insight into your inventory, which is essential to an efficient supply chain.

The ability to track can also be combined with increasing the efficiency of managing a fleet of vehicles or a fleet of sea vessels. It means you can minimize empty runs, define more efficient truck routes, and control and optimize scheduling for loading and delivery with high accuracy.

IoT in the supply chain will also contribute to better control of unnecessary movements, using the example of goods handling: After receiving an order for specific cargo, a pallet with goods will “search” for the nearest forklift and report on which shelf it is located, here you can get even more significant benefits from the combination with drones (loaders) this will increase efficiency and eliminate unnecessary work and downtime. 

Let’s imagine: The drone loader will tell the truck when it delivers the goods, and it will “ask” the sea container when its ship “departs” and formulate a shipment based on this. The container ship will “notify” the port that it is approaching so that it can be quickly unloaded and trucks can be brought in for further cargo delivery.

How to Benefit from Using the Internet of Things

IoT is used in all transport sectors: cargo delivery, manufacturing, retail (including e-commerce), agriculture, construction, etc. Technology is instrumental in ensuring a smooth and continuous delivery process.

It allows you to monitor those parameters in operating equipment that are inaccessible to humans or require a lot of attention and time. You can use modern equipment and programs to observe the following indicators:

  • Geolocation tracking to determine the exact location of the cargo at a specific moment.
  • Receive temperature and humidity data to ensure the best delivery conditions.
  • Determine the angle of inclination and orientation of the load to transport fragile items safely.
  • Notification of opening of packaging and penetration into storage area to prevent theft.
  • Motion and shaking detection is also helpful for delivering high-quality fragile items and cargo that require special conditions.
  • Monitoring the quality of loading and guaranteeing proper handling of cargo.

Improved Transport and Traffic Monitoring

The logistics sector is a priority for implementing the Internet of Things. The development of intelligent transport technologies in cars is currently being funded, thereby reducing the number of accidents and increasing environmental performance and travel comfort. Among other things, the use of IoT technologies increases the efficiency of traffic control.

Data from the streets, vehicle user reports, outdoor surveillance cameras, traffic detectors, vehicles, etc., are used to manage traffic flow. Based on this, the system adjusts the optimal operating schedule for urban passenger transport, reduces traffic, and, as a result, improves the quality of services provided.

The introduction of the Internet of Things allows you to direct traffic flow, plan parking spaces, etc. A similar transport control system improves the transport infrastructure and creates the prerequisites for its development.

Increased Security

Improving security is one of the most critical aspects of IoT. For example, the large railway company UnionPacific uses IoT technologies to predict equipment failure and minimize train derailment risk.

It is achieved by placing sensors on railway tracks that monitor the integrity of the wheels, and thanks to this, they were able to predict and avoid various unpleasant situations, each of which could cost the company a lot of money.

Main Risks and Shortcomings

Despite all the beauty, futurism, and a certain smoothness of the picture, it is worth remembering that the Internet of Things is still in its infancy. In this regard, you must answer many questions before making a serious decision and betting on this technology.

Internet of Things security will be the number one concern. With the Internet of Things “growing dangerously fast,” user security must outpace the technology’s growth.

Firstly, with so many devices that constantly communicate with each other, there is a serious risk of losing confidential information.

There will be the ability to track not only people’s movements but also corporations’ health based on the volumes they transport or even what they transport, and this should be considered a risk.

Second, with so many potential portals on the web that corporate governance relies on, there’s a chance that someone hacking into your smart toaster could get into your central operating systems from there.

Therefore, security risk is a must-assessment for companies looking to leverage IoT applications. Unfortunately, it should be noted that no “silver bullet” can effectively mitigate all possible cyber threats, but perhaps the protocols developed recently to solve other IT security problems can be just as effective for the Internet of Things.

The second problem, as with any new technology, is the risk that it will eventually fail or be quickly replaced by a more disruptive idea. Significant investments are required for the technology to work like clockwork, including in overall infrastructure. It means that a general digitalization program should begin now.

For companies operating in the supply chain management industry, the situation with constant competitive pressure and the goal of cost control is unlikely to change. Current trends of even greater demand for e-commerce and the accompanying importance of fast and accurate deliveries, so crucial to businesses and you and me, will no doubt force companies to move towards new technologies.


As you can see, IoT has many advantages, but the disadvantages are easily overcome and will be eliminated as the system improves. Today, you can significantly improve the quality of your deliveries through sensors, apps, and other devices. These trends should not be ignored. In a highly competitive world, this can give you a significant advantage over your competitors.

IoT Hardware article and permission to publish here provided by Guest Post Links. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on January 4, 2024.

Cover image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.