Smart Supply Chain

As more manufacturers embrace the Industry 4.0 principles to stay competitive in a global economy, the supply chain management must adapt to the new reality. The good news is that the technology is available for the digitalization of supply chain to improve productivity, quickly respond to the changing market demands, minimize risks, and introduce new services. Industry leaders are already making the supply chain an integral part of Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0

Some of the Industry 4.0 basics include:

  • Wide-scale connectivity powered by IoT technologies;
  • Information transparency and ability to access accurate and granular data;
  • Predictive analytics of Big Data and decentralized decision-making.

Implementation of the above principles offers enterprises significant benefits, such as:

  • Seamless inventory management;
  • Bottleneck prediction;
  • Optimized delivery times;
  • Greater flexibility;
  • Improved decision-making;
  • More efficient processes;
  • Predictable material supply.

In order to achieve these benefits, a large number of sensors need to be embedded into the equipment, containers, warehouse facilities, and more. Wireless networks connect these sensors and create the foundation of an IoT infrastructure. Below are a few examples of how smart sensors can help to transform the operations and drastically improve the supply chain management.

Container Monitoring and Location Tracking

Container monitoring includes the location tracking of freight transported by truck, train, ship or airplane globally, as well as the monitoring of the condition of transported goods and contents of freight containers. Geolocation can be mapped with technologies, such as GPS, GSM and LoRa, providing the exact location of transported goods. Location tracking allows to predict when the freight will arrive and whether there may be any delays to adjust for within the supply chain in terms of production planning. This enables real-time tracking, which is critical to lean management and just-in-time planning.

Worldwide Freight Tracking: Track and Trace

Below are examples of the solutions that use wireless sensors and actuators for freight tracking with Real-Time Location System (RTLS) and asset tracking in combination with RFID:

  • Complete tracking of registered goods
  • Prompt recognition of shortages
  • Integration into existing goods management systems (WaWi)

Container Condition Monitoring Using Wireless Sensors

The condition monitoring system records various parameters for controlling the condition of goods in the container, including impact and shock, temperature, humidity and air pressure, and more. As a rule, the sender must provide proof that the goods are complete and that all delivery conditions have been complied with.

Container condition monitoring provides the consignor with timely alerts and allows for detection of nonconformities that may be reported to an insurance company. In addition, the monitoring and tracking of sea containers and controlling the condition of cargo reduces the risk of damage to or loss of a shipment.

Wireless Data Based Warehousing and Logistics Planning

A storage facility equipped with wireless sensors is perfect for inbound and outbound warehouse planning of freight forwarders and logistics centers. Using such technology, the supply chain can be controlled more efficiently in terms of:

  • Planning of the goods deliveries and related issues
  • Supply of parts and materials
  • Optimization of transport and delivery routes

With the help of wireless data-based logistics planning, processes can be optimized and delivery times shortened.

The most important advantages of logistics planning with wireless sensors are:

  • Control and optimization of the supply chain
  • Material flow optimization
  • Inventory optimization
  • Optimization of transport routes
  • Shorter delivery times

The low power consumption of @ANY modules allows the network to operate unattended for years with little maintenance. Encrypted radio data protocols such as AES128 are used to ensure secure data transmission and to protect against tampering.

Warehouse Automation

A modern warehouse has evolved from a simple place to store goods to a high-tech handling facility for a variety of products, becoming an integral part of the supply chain. The growth of warehouses, in terms of their size and the variety of goods stored, presents new challenges for warehouse operators. With the increased use of automation techniques, many of these challenges can be addressed. Some of the advantages of warehouse automation are:

  • Reduction of overhead costs
  • Better use of space
  • Higher number of deliveries by using different forwarders
  • Real-time package tracking
  • Paperless operation
  • Higher productivity per employee
  • Increased customer satisfaction

The use of Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) technologies enables essential warehouse automation capabilities. WSN eliminates expensive cabling and provides ultimate flexibility in the placement of sensors and markers. IEEE802.15.4-based standards, such as ZigBee, allow for the use of battery powered sensor devices, which can be freely placed anywhere in a warehouse.

AN Solutions' @ANY RF modules combine best-in-class range with extremely low power consumption. Each module comes with embedded networking software. @ANY Modules can be easily added into existing goods tracking systems, enabling standard-based automation solutions for warehouses. Application programming interfaces (APIs) allow for seamless integration with the existing logistics systems.

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