Devices for the Internet of Things to Revolutionize Distribution Operations

Watch out! The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing and getting more involved in the warehouse and supply chain trade. According to Gartner, an industry research firm, there will be 26 billion devices that will connect all sorts of things to the Internet by 2020.

A radio frequency identification device (RFID).
A radio frequency identification device (RFID). (Courtesy: RFID Global at

These devices are sensors that are embedded in products that tell us in real time the condition of the product being monitored.  As the Internet of Things grows these embedded sensors will communicate and interact with other devices traveling through the supply chain so that everything from raw materials to product components to finished goods to individual cartons to containers to shipments to delivered orders will be able to transmit data in real time to the Internet. This allows warehouse and distribution executives to find out the condition and location of an ordered product is in every stage of the distribution process.

The Internet of Things is growing into a technology that will help warehouse executives make better decisions on the fly by managing and enhancing activity along the entire supply chain. The brave new world of the Internet of Things already allows things like this to occur in real time.

·      Remote monitoring of equipment, containers, pallets, and packages that track products through the supply chain.
·      Permit customers to track their orders and know where they are at any given time, what condition they are in and if the shipment strays off course.
·      Monitor physical assets to assure that they are operating properly or when maintenance is necessary.
·      Manage inventory to decrease out of stock issues and gain more knowledge of customer buying patterns.
·      Ensure that food transported in temperature-controlled trucks does not spoil.
·      Offer warehouse executives real time visibility so they know what is happening on the warehouse floor in real time. This permits the executive to track the performance of equipment and learn whether it is being over used or is sitting idle so he can make adjustments in deployment on the fly.
·      Allow a warehouse executive to use every square inch of his warehouse space efficiently by making certain that goods are retrieved and delivered as quickly as possible.
·      Totally eliminate manual inventory counting by reading smart tags on each pallet as it arrives at the warehouse.
·      Determine whether a pallet is damaged.
·      Scan pallets to ensure that the right items in the right order are loaded on to trucks.
·      Direct a forklift to a pick location and tell it at what height a product is stored.
·      Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags embedded in the warehouse floor ensures that a forklift does not exceed a certain speed to prevent collisions and improve safety.
·      RFID technology is used to offer information concerning the location; identification and tracking data so warehouse personnel know when a delivery will arrive.
·      Sensors on conveyors that assure that the conveyors don’t run unless there is a product on it.

Unlike the Brave New World described in the book of the same name, the brave new world of the Internet of Everything will be something that everyone can welcome.