Impact of the IoT on LTL Freight Shipments

Posted On 1st May 2015

Believe it or not, in 1984, the number of devices connected to the Internet was just 1,000. According to research firm Gartner, in 2016, 6.4 billion connected devices will be in use worldwide, up 30 percent from 2015. By 2020, the number of connected devices will be a staggering 20.8 billion!

As is the case with nearly all aspects of modern society, new technologies have dramatically impacted the Transportation and Logistics industry. Technology has changed and transformed freight specialists in just about every function, from CSCO to Production Manager to Fork Lift Operator. As supply chains become more complex, whether it is for WMS or following warehouse activities that turn into transportation movements, freight shippers are pushing for more new technology solutions. It also touched LTL freight services.

What does IoT mean for transportation and logistics?

GPS technology already tracks vehicles and cargo, in real time, through smartphones. Logistics and transportation companies are fast-tracking their IoT efforts to improve productivity and customer service levels by exploiting the increasing amounts of data that cargo-tracking solutions generate. Embedded tags record data and report information about the location and condition of cargo. Thanks to in-transit visibility, tracking of trailers and intermodal containers is widespread, and technology advancements enable smaller logistics units (e.g. individual pallets or cargo boxes) to be tracked at reasonable costs.

The maritime shipping industry has started to substantially embrace real-time container tracking, especially for refrigerated intermodal containers. Following several years of pilot projects, Maersk Line recently announced that 290,000 of the container shipping giant’s refrigerated intermodal containers are now connected.

With chain-of-custody regulations increasing globally, effective cargo tracking will help companies remain compliant. Particularly for sensitive cargo such as perishables, being able to collect and use data about conditions during transit will pay off when regulators solicit detailed reporting.

Business Insider reported that by 2017 82 percent of businesses are planning to implement IoT solutions (Business Insider, Internet of Everything). As a result, supply chains that invest in technologies to make sense of their raw data will have a competitive edge over other companies. This powerful data enables companies to obtain end-to-end supply chain visibility as well as insights to foresee problems, forecast outcomes, prescribe solutions and prevent costly disruptions.

Smarter LTL shipments with IoT technology

Whether shipping by truck, train, or ocean carrier, chemicals heavyweight Dow Chemical utilizes IoT technology to monitor the transportation and distribution of its hazmat and materials at high risk. Dow's risk management program incorporates numerous identification solutions (RFID, GPS, bar codes) in addition to sensor technology to monitor cargo security and environmental conditions while in transit.

Global food producer, Nestlé has launched wireless vehicle management systems (VMS) on more than 2,000 industrial trucks and in over 60 manufacturing and distribution facilities. The VMS automatically uploads vehicle information, reports vehicle glitches and schedules maintenance based on actual usage. This safeguards that only trained personnel have access to the vehicles and that safety protocols are applied. The VMS includes an impact sensor as well as automatic shut-off functions when trucks are left idling that help reduce fuel consumption and emissions.