By Pravinraj Panicker
In Industry 4.0

Logistics and Transportation form an important facet of any Industry. As there is no direct control over it since this happens beyond the plant or company premises, it adds to the time and cost after the finished good has been manufactured and therefore the risk and cost associated with it increases multifold!!


Industry-wide observations

In Industries from Food to Manufacturing, at each step in the production as well as the transportation process there are multiple challenges that can make or impact the supply chain adversely. In Industries like Food, it is very important that the deliveries are done in a timely manner to ensure the quality of the food delivered. In any Industry, the delivery date is very crucial to customer satisfaction. It becomes very necessary to have clear visibility to the shipment even when in transit, as lack of information leads to anxiety to the management as well as the customers. 
In addition to the above, there are many practical and operational issues associated too. Things like poor monitoring of shipment, theft, manual errors, lack of updated information are some of the aspects related to Logistics and Transportation which are faced by all businesses.

Many times the reported losses due to shipment are not accurate. CCTV cameras do not cover the entire work area. Thefts therefore can not be tracked from many areas of blind spots. Thus there are discrepancies that don’t get accounted for.

Third-party transporters don’t follow processes resulting in losses. There are Operational Manual Compliance steps at the which are skipped due to the workloads and crisis situations.

The lack of Integrated Business Process IT solutions for closed-loop monitoring is also missing. Also, there is no way to analyze the shipment based on the nature of orders or their value or other aspects like weight or volume. There is no way to calculate organizational or departmental level productivity and CEO dashboards are also not available because of disconnected systems implemented. 


Characteristics of a good solution

Some of the top-priority objectives of any logistics department in a company would be to ensure timely deliveries, have a good supply chain visibility, have a process that provides product lifecycle transparency and good quality services. Any successful company needs efficient inventory management and warehousing along with automation of internal business processes, ensuring safe storage and while maintaining the quality of goods, and last but not least a delivery channel to ensure timely delivery to the customer. 

Let us look at some of the characteristics of a good solution for tracking Logistics and Transport:

Real-Time Fleet Management

Knowing where your entire fleet is both insides as well as outside the company premises is an important piece of information that every manager would want to know. It is, therefore, necessary to have a system that can collect telematics data and manage it in a manner to provide real-time feedback to the central system so that there is real-time status available to the management triggering off alarms in case there are possible delivery ETAs. Such a tool is truly of great assistance when it comes to delivery planning and showing a real-time schedule which updated with real-time delays. Thus data would be readily available for decision-making almost in real-time.

This comes in handy, especially where you have third-party vendors who are doing fleet management or manning the vehicles. You get operational visibility to the activities of the manpower provided by the vendor. This would be further implementing standards and policies. Such monitoring is needed when we are dealing with third-party vendors.


Warehouse Inventory Management

In the new-gen warehouse practices, Warehouses have become “Awarehouses”. It is very important that the entire logistical ecosystem should be connected and aware of each other’s presence. The system should allow for monitoring and tracking of the status and location of the inventory items within the warehouses as well as within the plant premises. Such a system will enable one to create a smart warehouse by adopting these new technology bases practices.

Any movement of assets from their designated locations should trigger a notification to the warehouse in charge or manager. The severity of the notification can change based on if the asset has been moved within the warehouse or outside the warehouse. With the help of IoT, technology one would be in a position to preempt any losses, make sure that there is the safe storage of goods, with the added advantage that one can efficiently locate an item or an asset easily whenever needed. Thus no longer one is dependent on manual practices and there is no need for manual intervention to update the inventory. The inventory gets updated in real-time in terms of the status and location.


Personnel Monitoring

In terms of maintaining security, Personnel monitoring plays an important role. A system that integrates personnel monitoring into the ecosystem makes for a complete monitoring system. It is important to know when you detect that an asset has changed location, as to who was near the asset at that point. This will help further investigate wherever needed.`

Additionally, this will help in monitoring third-party vendor personnel movement which is also good information to have from many perspectives like security, safety. This helps in checking if the authorized personnel is present in a prescribed area.

Such a system can also help to provide information regarding which personnel is not present, which can be used by integrating with HR systems to get an Attendance report and can help in Attendance monitoring. This information can also be used for other purposes as to how much time is spent by the employees in which area and it can be a way to measure indirectly employee productivity.


Perimeter Security and Tracking

The solution can be used for ensuring that the perimeter of the company is secured. The entire space within the plant/company can be divided into demarcated areas. This way one can create rules within the system to define “intrusion”. There can be alerts that can be broadcasted on the system for any unexpected events like personnel in an unsafe zone, unauthorized personnel detected, Asset movement in undefined or provisioned locations.


Management Dashboards

The topping on the cream of such a system would be a dashboard that gives management a single-page view of various aspects listed above. Thus a manager can easily know what is the location of a shipment and the vehicle in which it is being taken. This will help in proactively updating the customers in case of delays.  

One can also easily know the inventory of assets and their locations. There is no need for physical audits and even if it needs to be conducted it would be much easier to conduct since the inventory is getting dynamically updated and it is now very easy to search and locate assets.

The dashboard can also present the metrics related to the personnel. Thus one can know the average time spent inside the plant by workers as well as outside the plant. There could be additional statistics like how many people are absent.

It would also provide a single reference to see all the notifications and alerts company-wide thus keeping management abreast of any situations in a proactive manner.


IoT in Logistics

The automation solutions are available using multiple technological implementations. The Internet of Things technology has multiple uses or applications in Logistics. In comparison with other technologies, simpler and better IoT solutions are currently available using Bluetooth Low Energy. The BLE-based solutions are low maintenance and small-sized hence more preferable when it comes to large implementations where cost also plays an important factor.

If you are interested to know more about it, please feel free to connect on and we would be happy to assist you towards your next steps.

Written By

Riyaz Lakhani

Quicsolv Technologies Pvt Ltd.
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