How IOT is Transforming the Shipping Industry

Consumer demand and the march of the ecommerce giants are just two of the reasons for a relatively-early adoption of IOT in shipping

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By 2020, Enterprise IOT is predicted to contribute $14.2 trillion to the global economy. Powerful technologies, streamlined processes, skilled people and advanced analytics connect across a global network. Sensors collect huge amounts of data from a diverse range of connected equipment, from airplanes to zero-emission cars.

IOT is transforming industries from manufacturing to healthcare, financial services to utilities. The shipping industry, too, is surging ahead with IOT adoption, demonstrating maturity in embracing the enormous potential of IOT. Consumer demand and the march of the ecommerce giants are just two of the reasons for a relatively-early adoption of IOT in shipping. As parcel volume surges, organizations manage this with innovative technologies. Every second, 2300 parcels are shipped in the world's key global markets. In 2020, global parcel shipping volume is forecasted to surpass 100 billion parcels. Ecommerce is a major instigator behind this exponential rise in volume; in fact, 94 per cent of consumers globally are shopping online.

Ecommerce firms continually raise consumer expectations, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in shipping. To deliver against these expectations, shipping firms are reinventing technology and creating a virtuous circle of innovation. IOT is an invaluable part of this cycle: IOT-connected shipping devices generate enormous volumes of data, which can be used to extract insight and understand behaviours, trends and patterns.

Mining this data for key insights—and acting on those insights—is transforming businesses, creating new opportunities and optimizing operations. Here are three ways IOT has become a game-changer for the shipping industry:

Providing Absolute Transparency and Visibility

Before real-time tracking, businesses had little accurate visibility of their parcel's journey. Now, senders and recipients alike demand absolute transparency of the entire journey, from sending to delivery and at points in between–ideally in real-time so THAT they are kept fully informed of their delivery's progress, improving visibility and delivering a better customer experience.

Transparency is also required to drive compliance in mailing when clear chain of custody is required. Additionally, IOT offers greater visibility in to operational performance–data on usage patterns, downtime, expenditure, frequently used features and unused features is generated. Deep analytics mine the data to create a clear picture on technology's performance, so businesses can optimize functionality and enhance operations.

Guaranteeing Outcomes

With access to in-depth, real-time industrial analytics, organisations can integrate an outcome-based approach to their business models. The ability to forecast results with accuracy allows this. In shipping, it provides a robust platform for businesses to address and manage uncertainty in customer behaviours, in carrier costs and rate changes, in delivery options and cross-border taxes and duties.

  • Remove guesswork and assumptions from forecasting, enabling accurate forecasting of trends and behaviours;
  • facilitate predictive maintenance, network optimization and demand forecasting; and
  • optimize performance, enabling ecommerce firms to plan for seasonal fluctuations, for example
    • boost service levels; and
    • help create a truly differentiated customer experience.

Driving Innovation in Product Design

IOT-connected devices generate data, which reveals hidden stories on how technology is used: from usage patterns to user error, favourite features to disruptive downtime.In the same way that mobile companies redesign handsets based on usage data, information from IOT-connected shipping devices influences the design and developmentprocesses.In the future, IOT in enterprise will continue to generate value in terms of how the data is used.

Influencer Bernard Marr in a Forbes post predicts that connected devices will start to become voice activated; edge computing will become popular, in which data is processed on the device on which it's generated, rather than sent to the cloud; artificial intelligence will be incorporated into connected devices; and 5G will result in connectivity between devices becoming around twenty times faster. This has huge implications for the shipping industry–it's an incredibly exciting time.