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Steve Walker, CIO, DHL Supply Chain Asia Pacific
If you are considering investing in IOT and are not sure where to start, the good news is that you don’t have to look far to see some real world examples. I follow the developments closely and want to share five early adopters in Asia piloting IOT-enabled supply chain innovations to improve safety records, lower cost, enhance customer satisfaction and increase revenue:
Sensors on warehouse racks, material-handling equipment and employee wrist bands have been installed to detect and track near-misses and prevent potential collisions at the DHL Advanced Regional Centre. By capturing and analyzing data from these disparate sources, a safer environment can be created. For example, if one or more employees nearly slipped in the same area, the facilities department will be alerted to check on the location and take appropriate action like installing signage or briefing colleagues on the hotspot. In addition, sensors help forklift operators to scan the environment for objects and people, and alert the operators to anything that may be in their blind spot or around the corner to reduce the risk of a collision. DHL Supply Chain has prioritized this pilot because there is a strong commitment for the health and safety of its employees at all levels of the organization.
“If you are considering investing in IOT and are not sure where to start, the good news is that you don’t have to look far to see some real world examples.”
Accidents involving incorrect loading of pallets or boxes can also be prevented in future. RAVAS, a mobile weighing systems manufacturer, has developed a load-centre measurement technology to warn forklift operators when the load has exceeded capacity or the load centre is uneven.
JD.com, the Chinese online retailer, now uses big data to analyze purchasing patterns to predict consumer’s needs.
By integrating the predictive analytics with advanced automation technology that sorts up to 20,000 packages every hour, JD.com has claimed the record of delivering a package in less than 4 minutes from the time of order.
Quality and control are two vital ingredients to healthcare supply chains and sensor technology now provides near real-time feeds to monitor temperature, humidity, shock and light exposure as vaccines, blood, and other delicate products travel to patients. For example, if the temperature of a shipment of vaccines falls below 2°C or exceeds 8°C whilst in transit, it can no longer be used. Rather than finding out only after the shipment has arrived, the hospital will be alerted of any temperature discrepancies and can place another order, if necessary, to prevent any further delays for the patient. This solution deployed by DHL, called Ocean Thermonet, provides better control and visibility via a dashboard that can be accessed online or via a mobile app.
One of the most interesting applications I’ve seen relates to managing the authenticity of durians. In recent years, Malaysia’s premium durian export market to China has been taking a hit as sellers from other countries try to pass off their durians as the highly sought-after Malaysian D24 and Musang King varieties. To counter this, Mimos, an agency under Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation in Malaysia, developed a system using IOT technology called Mi-Trace that tracks the durian from the plantation, through processing, packaging, storage, distribution and shipping to the consumer. By scanning the QR code on the box with a mobile phone, a consumer can easily and quickly confirm the authenticity and get details down to which tree the durian was picked from - ensuring customer satisfaction and establishing brand loyalty.
Whilst all these IOT innovations are great news for consumers and businesses, it remains essential that the vehicle is able to complete the delivery in the most efficient and effective manner. Volvo and DHL have developed a smart truck fitted with sensor technology that monitors and identifies where and when servicing is needed, alerts of potential collisions and suggests alternative routes in case of congestion.
Known as Maintenance on Demand, or MoDe for short, the truck detects damage or wear and tear, and automatically sends a signal to a maintenance platform which books an appointment and places an order for parts if required. A successful pilot in the UK showed an increase of uptime by 30 percent, improved safety and customer satisfaction since the chances of breakdowns and incidents are radically reduced.
Volvo and DHL are collecting data and developing algorithms to commercialize this solution with plans in place to introduce some features of MoDe in its Thailand fleet next year.