IIoT technology: The holiday miracle for the supply chain crisis

Shelves sit empty, customers rush into stores to panic-buy and order fulfilment slows to a halt while these scenarios may seem familiar from the early stages of the pandemic, businesses face a similar supply chain crisis now.

The crisis is affecting nearly every sector, from construction to energy, and even McDonalds milkshakes, says Marcus Jeffery territory manager UK & Ireland, Ivanti Wavelink. For businesses attempting to keep up with growing customer demands, the labour shortage and the supply chain disruption it is causing seem to be insurmountable problems to solve. Businesses are scrambling to onboard a human workforce to reduce the impact, but the crisis isn’t expected to end anytime soon. Indeed, the CBI predicts that this crisis will last at least for the next two years.

Implementing Industrial IoT (IIoT) technologies can serve as the solution businesses need. IIoT can offer the automation framework and data collection to better understand productivity within the supply chain. Businesses can therefore optimise their supply chain to mitigate the labour shortage in the short term and meet customer demands in the long term.

What IIoT solutions bring to the table

To reduce the strain on their supply chains, businesses should lean on and invest in technology. The Industrial (IoT) IIoT helps to secure the supply chain of the future and further enable Industry 4.0. An IIoT platform provides increased visibility both at macro and micro levels and connects and protects the end-to-end supply chain process. It allows businesses to improve accuracy, productivity, safety and drive decisions with data accuracy.

For instance, businesses can install geolocation beacons on trailers and shipping containers to gain a better understanding of the ETA of items arriving in and departing from the warehouse. That way, warehouse managers can better prioritise certain loads and items that need to be loaded or offloaded onto the trailers depending on their estimated arrival time.

IIoT solutions democratise information within all levels of an organisation. They give businesses a 360-degree view of their IIoT equipment to proactively identify and resolve any issues in real-time to drive operational efficiency. It ensures businesses have the resources they need, when they need them and that all pieces of equipment are running to the best of their ability. It also notifies companies of any exceptions that may impact their ability to continue business as usual.

The use cases of IIoT are limitless. Accessibility to information allows organisations to improve and build from the ground-up, whether by allowing a business to track products from supplier to supplier, offer insight into risks outside of the enterprise, plan contingencies based on this insight and adjust their workforce resources accordingly.

Narrowing the labour shortage gap 

Labour shortages have jumped to 54%, hitting retail and manufacturing sectors the hardest. As a result, not only are global economies expecting to see food shortages by Christmas, but prices of goods are skyrocketing. No sector has been left untouched, and all are left unsatisfied from employees to customers to businesses. 

While organisations are attempting to counter these effects, by offering bonuses to attract recruits, ultimately these initiatives won’t keep the supply chain running smoothly. To protect themselves long-term, businesses need to rethink and restructure their foundations, rather than implement a top-down solution.

An IIoT platform offers the visibility businesses need to understand their existing supply chain, discern how to improve it, and optimise these processes for success even in the face of a labour shortage. Through an IIoT solution, organisations can remove humans from the decision-making process and instead replace them with automation to ensure the business is using a limited but crucial asset, its people, in the best and most effective way possible.

For organisations plagued with a labour shortage, IIoT can help by providing logistics management, asset tracking, predictive repairing, and remote production control meaning businesses can be less dependent on employees for physical labour, such as order fulfilment.

The roadmap to effectively integrating IIoT

IIoT technology is a growing market, valued at $128.9 billion (€111.20 billion), and it is expected that it will expand further by 26.7%. While businesses are eager to implement IIoT technology to optimise their supply chains, many have struggled in this pursuit.

While one of the benefits of the IIoT is its breadth and possibility, if organisations fail to integrate this technology without a clear plan in mind, they risk investing in innovation that doesn’t provide the visibility they so seek.

Some businesses see IIoT as a point solution an additional tool to be added to an increasing array of disjointed and unconnected technologies. However, in doing so, they fail to take advantage of IIoT’s scope. Organisations looking to mature would do best to develop a flexible strategy and discern how IIoT can mature with them, rather than focusing exclusively on the short-term gains.

To ensure success, then, companies need to define what they wish to achieve. Instead of putting the cart before the horse, organisations should let their business strategies and goals guide them and their implementation of IIoT technology. For IIoT to be an effective solution to the supply chain crisis, then, businesses must look at their workforces and think about how they can deploy IIoT metrics to drive the predictive supply chain. That analysis will empower businesses to ensure their workforces are always at peak productivity and fill the labour shortage gap through innovation.

What’s next?

Marcus Jeffery

Looking beyond the pandemic and saving this year’s holiday season, IIoT technology can revolutionise the supply chain industry, by giving agency and control back to businesses. 

Going forward, IIoT will look more like IIoB Industrial Internet of Behaviours. While businesses work on optimising their warehouses, the next goal will be how to use data to enhance workforce behaviour, as it relates to productivity, safety, and accuracy. Data can provide visibility into every and any facet of the workforce, meaning that businesses can better understand employee behaviour and subsequently improve the workplace.

While supply chains struggle from labour shortages, IIoT can help businesses ensure that the employees they do have are as productive as possible to meet current and future consumer demands.

The author is Marcus Jeffery, territory manager UK & Ireland, Ivanti Wavelink.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow


9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, iot home automation is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more

Workz launches eSIM cloud

Posted on: November 29, 2021

Dubai. 29 November 2021 – IoT solutions provider Workz has expanded its eSIM subscription management solution to offer a GSMA certified cloud-based platform in the US. The platform, which is certified by the GSMA’s Security Accreditation Scheme (SAS) and hosted at Microsoft Azure’s Virginia, USA site enables mobile network operators (MNOs) to remotely manage consumer

Read more

Laiye partners with HUAWEI CLOUD to drive Brazil’s digital transformation

Posted on: November 29, 2021

Laiye, a provider of intelligent automation, and HUAWEI CLOUD, a global provider of cloud services, announced a strategic alliance to drive digital transformation in Brazil through of cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. The alliance will be implemented in the rest of Latin America. 

Read more