The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the growing trends not just in shipping, but in many industries. The idea is that physical devices with sensors or the ability to capture data, shares that data with websites. The information is then used or analyzed in real time or at a later time, to create efficiencies. IoT solutions can incorporate data points from many IoT sensors, but also allow users to drill down to the individual item level for asset tracking and monitoring purposes.

Any number of sensor types can be used in the iot shipping industry, whether it’s an RFID chip on cargo that tracks its passage across the ocean. Or it can be a cell phone signal indicating a truck driver’s GPS location. Sensors can be used on manufacturing equipment to share usage data and predict maintenance needs, or it can be in a camera trained on a warehouse door that sends alerts to security personnel in another building or even another state.

In 2021 there are around 13.8 billion IoT units, a number expected to jump to 30.9 billion by 2025. This IoT connectivity allows data flow in real time, which can positively impact ship owners like Maersk, or it can impact a mom and pop logistics company. With IoT technology, the data is often stored on the cloud, allowing for increased storage levels and faster cloud computing analysis. That type of storage also mitigates concerns over data loss at a specific location in case there is an issue on premises.

How IoT is useful?

An IoT based solution can promote the digitalization of the entire supply chain, allowing connected devices to provide visibility in various nodes along the chain. An IoT-based solution can:

  • Track the raw materials going to the manufacturing facility
  • Track manufacturing equipment to alert production managers to predictive maintenance issues
  • Track supply levels and assets in the warehouse or factory
  • Monitor finished goods coming off the production line, and  track them as they’re picked and packed for shipping.

The logistics industry also uses IoT devices to help route parcels or freight to the right transportation and monitor them along their journey to the end user. Freight forwarders can keep tabs on their customers’ goods to know where they are at any given time, and even where the reefer containers or ocean vessels are, to anticipate delays. IoT trends can help with predictive analytics in the shipping industry, which helps lower operational costs. They can assist with regulatory compliance as well. IoT adoption can help a shipping company and others in the shipping industry obtain a holistic view of their entire supply chain.

The transportation industry uses IoT in public transit to receive and assess real-time information on traffic and passenger information. That includes where buses and trains are, to alert other riders about their pending rides on smartphone apps or station displays, and it alerts planners so they can troubleshoot any delays or problems. Changes can be made quickly if needed, based on information coming in from the IoT sensors.

Sensors are used on traffic signals, sometimes based on current traffic conditions. This can allow fleet management programs to reroute a driver based on the information received, to save time and hassle, and take the most efficient route possible. That can save time as well as fuel.

IoT technology is also useful for predictive maintenance, to alert users or a supply chain manager when a piece of machinery is nearing maintenance needs. That way, the company can proactively address an issue before it becomes a problem. That reduces downtime for the equipment and makes production more efficient.

How IoT is used in industry?

An IoT platform can help a company with these types of operations in multiple industries:

Decreasing capital costs and operating costs: By using asset tracking and loading analytics, the container shipping industry can better plan for optimized loads. The maritime industry would need less paperwork, as the items on board are using digital technologies for tracking and monitoring. The companies would operate more efficiently and could optimize the use of their containers and vessels, knowing their current and future locations, so they can more easily track them. The process’s efficiency helps lower operating costs.

Data collection: In any kind of vehicle or in container shipping, IoT sensors can track temperature changes, ambient light (indicating whether the container or truck door is open), movement, and location. This data helps for security reasons, if the sensors show something unusual is happening to the cargo or freight, like it is in the wrong location or the temperature is at an unsafe level. This information can be used for many types of analysis.

Forecasting: After collecting the data, programs using machine learning can improve a shipping company’s ability to forecast future operations. That can include inventory demand, time needed to run through supply, time needed to order and receive goods, and details about logistics and delivery of finished goods.

Customer service: Knowing where cargo is in ocean shipping or where supplies are with global IoT tracking can alert customers about the status. That takes the pressure off the company and provides solid information that can be used in planning, as information based on tracking provides more reassurance than estimations. IoT devices can sometimes also alert customers about final delivery, or about product quality – if a sensor shows the product went out of temperature range, for example.

What is IoT and how does it benefit the maritime industry?

Maritime companies can find IoT useful in much the same ways as other industries. Instead of tracking containers by hand or with a hand-held bar code reader, IoT sensors can automate much of the process. Here are some ways that logistics technology can help the maritime industry.

Tracking cargo: Shippers and maritime companies can track where cargo is based on IoT sensors on the smart container, or on the items inside. This can save time for all parties, and the shipper or freight forwarder can follow the items as they cross the ocean and get into port.

Confirming service levels: Shippers and freight forwarders can settle automatically by using information from IoT sensors. If the freight reached the loading dock with no alerts for temperature excursions, for example, the settlement can be handled instantly. If damage occurred somewhere along the way, the IoT device can confirm at what point it occurred and in whose custody.

Smart containers: Smart containers can be used to keep tabs on the goods inside, by monitoring and sharing alerts about ambient light and temperature changes. The smart containers can track doors opening and closing as well as other unexpected actions. They also share location, allowing users to know where it is at any given time.

Autonomous ships: Carriers using autonomous vessels can rely on sensors to help guide the ships without worrying about manual error. Sensors would alert staff about potential issues, but the ship can be on auto-pilot, just as planes rely on automated programming.

Smart ports: Some ports are becoming automated and using IoT digital solutions to help with berth planning and weather issues. The ports will be able to optimize their ports to allow for more efficient docking. IoT devices can be used to monitor the cranes, berths, storage facilities, parking, and all associated facilities. The tags can help workers more efficiently move containers to the proper storage or trucking locations as well.

Why Internet is important in the Shipping industry

In addition to using IoT devices, the shipping industry relies on the internet to help run digital solutions and analytics. Here are some ways that the shipping industry uses digital technologies, including IoT devices.

Warehouses: Automation in warehouses is growing, from the use of robotic picking and packing, to automated sortation. Technology solutions help determine the best places to store goods in the warehouse and also to then retrieve them when it’s time to ship them out. Using space efficiently and moving items through the warehouse quickly can happen with the assistance of the internet and IoT devices. The connected devices can alert supply chain management about temperature deviations, pending expirations, and low quantities. It can automatically trigger reorders of goods. Tags on pallets and on individual items can tell warehouse staff what was delivered without having to open boxes. That can save time and make management more efficient. Tags can also help with quality assurance when parcels are checked to ensure they contain the appropriate things before they leave for shipping.

Shipping: The devices track assets and can communicate with various machinery that helps with parcel weighing and choosing shipping methods as well. The sensors and software can trigger alerts to let carriers know about pick-ups, and can share information about the number and types of packages the carrier can expect when they arrive.

Forecasting: Given all the data flowing through a warehouse, the management can learn about forecasting from the analytics. That includes information on what items may need additional stocking, what may need to go to warehouses closer to customers, and staffing level planning too.

Fleet management: Understanding not only what parcels need to be moved, but where they need to go, helps with fleet management. IoT sensors can interact with transportation management software to help with route optimization. Vehicles can share information with fleet managers about fluid levels, tire pressure and other maintenance issues, to predict problems before they occur. GPS sensors can allow managers to know where vehicles and freight is without having to make a phone call. The manager can also monitor driving behavior. See our blog for more on the benefits of route optimization.

Parcel invoice audit recovery: The shipping and freight industry can use the internet and technology to save money with shipping using a parcel audit recovery system. These systems rely on a predictive analytics platform that searches for carrier invoice inconsistencies and automatically applies for appropriate credits. While this type of process can be performed manually, it is less accurate than doing it with an automated system.

Parcel or freight audit recovery like Shipware’s, uses artificial intelligence that has been honed over the years. It is able to find errors after conducting a multi-point audit of each invoice. Our system saves customers 1-9% of their total invoice amounts. The software runs behind the scenes at night, and does not involve any customer time or effort. The credits show up in the customer’s carrier account.

Just as sensor use makes shipping more efficient, use of automation software to find and recover carrier credits is a smart move. The service costs nothing up front, with fees only paid based on credit received.

Let Shipware show you how we can save you money without any other effort on your part. We’re happy to schedule a demo of the parcel audit recovery system, and show how the service can automatically put money back into your account. Call us at 858-870-2020.