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Sensor Advancements Can Overcome Supply Chain Disruptions


Supply chain and logistics have seen massive disruptions as a result of COVID-19, creating new challenges for retail and manufacturing operations worldwide. In the new report “Sensing for Modern Logistics,” Lux Research identifies how sensors can be used to improve and modernize logistics across various industries to shore up global supply chain infrastructures.

The report points out four critical points in the logistics process – point of origin, warehousing, transit, and destination – each with a unique set of challenges that has an impact on the efficiency of supply chains. It can sometimes result in complete breakdowns. Moreover, demand patterns have shifted overnight. Increased restrictions are imposed on the movement of products. As a result, there is a growing demand for close monitoring of products as they move through the supply chain.

Analyst at Lux Research and lead author of the report Lisheng Gao, PhD, explains, “Things that go wrong in the logistics process include pilfering, asset misplacement, and physical damage thanks to improper storage conditions and unexpected events.”

Even though these logistical challenges are expected to be exacerbated as vaccines become available for COVID-19, Gao mentioned, “It’s now more important than ever to ensure the right goods are transported within the right quantities, under the proper conditions, and delivered to the proper place at the proper time. Only then will it’s possible for society to stay functional and make sure that abundant resources are available to fight the pandemic.”

Here’s where innovative new sensors come into play. Sensors can alert companies to those problems and help them address these issues. “IoT sensing solutions are the foremost promising, as they will enhance data visibility and transparency across the whole process and facilitate planning, optimizing, and uncovering other invisible insights,” Gao says in the report.

Fortunately IoT sensors are equipped to monitor environmental conditions, prevent misplacement, and identify damages. Additionally, the sensors also used to avoid accidents, ensure compliance, track location, reveal real-time conditions, and many more. Even without network connections, sensors can still reveal the logistical history of the practice. It also identifies events which could have compromised goods.

For instance, as pointed out in the report, Airbus, one of the biggest airplane manufacturers globally, has a complicated logistics system that it uses to ship parts to sites throughout the world.

Airbus integrated Sensolus’ solution with its IoT platform are fully equipped to provide full location visibility for its assets. Sensolus’ GPS tracking system provides real-time location data on RTP. The system provides regular updates about the goods that are in transit among Airbus’ warehouses and international departments.

Today, sensing solutions for logistics are fragmented, with no standardized solutions available to span the entire logistics journey. Nonetheless, sensors play a critical role in enabling information transparency to facilitate planning, optimization, and risk management in the supply chain.

The research recommends that companies that are looking for sensing solutions embrace the available technologies, despite their current limitations.

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