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Internet Of Things Examples – Hidden Technology Automating Logistics

Internet of Things (IoT) devices are all around us and they are significantly impacting both our personal and professional lives. This article discusses the concept and origins of IoT. Additionally, this article provides 6 Internet of Things examples with a specific focus on the supply chain industry.

What is IoT And Where Are We Going With It?

Kevin Ashton, British Technology Pioneer - Internet of Things Examples
Kevin Ashton, British Technology Pioneer

You can write books on what it the Internet of Things (IoT), but let’s start with these definitions

“The Internet of Things is actually a pretty simple concept, it means taking all the physical places and things in the world and connecting them to the internet.”


“The Internet of Things, or IoT for short, is the concept of connecting physical objects to the Internet so that they can be either controlled or monitored remotely, with the goal of gaining insights that help improve personal or business outcomes.”


I think both these definitions are stated well. My first observation is that IoT is a concept or vision of things to come.  Specifically, it is a vision that some time in the future we will embed all “things” with sensors, software, and other technologies to connect to the internet and exchange data.

My second observation is that the IoT concept is quickly becoming a reality. Specifically, less than 50 years ago there were just thousands of computers (“things”) connected to the internet. Now there are billions of physical “things” connected to the internet from refrigerators to hearing aids. Moreover from the looks of it, we will soon be embedding almost all “things” with Iot devices. Indeed wherever we have a need to control or monitor a physical object, there will be an embedded Iot device.

A Short History of IoT And Why It Is Exploding Today.

Below is a list of key events surrounding the development of the Internet of Things ( IoT) concept and its expansive use today.

  • 1982 – First Application of IoT. Computer science grad students at Carnegie Melon University connected a Coca Cola vending machine to the Internet (ARPANET). To explain, the students put together this IoT solution for the purpose of checking the availability of coke cans. They did this because they did not want to take a long walk to the coke machine for nothing.
  • 1999 – IoT Concept and Term Adopted By IT Community. Kevin Aston of Procter & Gamble, later of MIT’s Auto-ID Center, first coined the IoT term and concept. This become about because he viewed emerging radio-frequency identification (RFID) communications technology as essential to the widespread connection of IoT devices to the internet. For more details, see Wikipedia.
  • 2020 And Beyond – Explosive Growth Driven By New Technology, Lower Costs. Globally, we are using billions of IoT devices today. Shortly, we will be using over a trillion devices for thousands of uses. Specifically, the drivers of this explosive growth are: 1) low cost, low-power sensor technology, 2) cloud computing platforms, 3) Artificial Intelligence and data analytics that is harnessing IoT “big data”. For more details on the drivers of IoT technology, click here.

Internet of Things Examples in the Transportation and Logistics Industry.

Businesses are widely using Iot technology across many industries, Also, all of us are using IoT devices today as in the case of our cell phone and with home automation. For a comprehensive list of industries with specific IoT use cases, click here. Specifically for the logistics and transportation industry, see below for 6 examples of IoT use cases.

1. Fleet Management – Enabling Visibility For Real-Time Decision-Making.

IoT is automating the process of collecting and recording data about fleet operations. Specifically this includes not only the vehicle location, but also things like tire pressure and coolant levels. Additionally, IoT devices are monitoring the status of truck loads as well as monitoring driver behavior and performance. Also, this real-time, detailed information is doing a lot more than just giving us visibility of fleet operations. Specifically, IoT solutions are lowering maintenance costs, lowering fuel consumption, improving regulatory compliance, and speeding up accident response. For more details on how IoT and other information technologies are revolutionizing fleet operations, click here.

2. Shared Micromobility Solutions – Enabling Communities To Have Better Urban Mobility And Livability.

LoT is also empowering the management of shared micromobility solutions for cities and campuses. Here communities and campuses are attaching IoT devices to scooters or e-bikes. In particular, the IoT devices can monitor things like battery status and location. Also, IoT networks can inhibit theft or tampering of the micromobility vehicles. Additionally, smart cards connected to IoT networks enhance security and convenience. Overall, IoT is reducing shared micromobility costs, increasing revenue, lowering business risks, and improves community livability. For more details on how IoT and other information technologies are enabling communities to pursue shared micro mobility initiatives, click here.

3. Warehouse Management – Enabling Real-TIme Visibility of Inventory At Reduced Costs.

Logistics managers are now deploying IoT devices rapidly in their warehouses, distribution, and production centers. In many cases, IoT devices are enhancing the capabilities of intelligent warehouse robots (see SCT Insights’ article on warehouse robots for more details). Specifically, IoT solutions are enabling the optimization of warehouse space, helping to optimize stocking levels, and reducing errors with inventory. In many cases, IoT data can be leveraged not just by warehouse management systems, but also order fulfillment, transportation management systems, and customer services. With all this data, businesses have increased requirements to integrate all this data across the enterprise (click here for tips for integrating enterprise and vendor data).

4. Asset Tracking – Gain Real-Time Visibility Across The Enterprise of Asset Status and Location.

As IoT devices can share data over any internet or wireless network, any asset can be tracked real-time either locally or globally. Assets can include products, shipments, or vehicles. Besides tracking, IoT devices can monitor product environment conditions, identify thefts, identify shipment delays, and provide full traceability of products. For examples of how IoT is helping to monitor trailers and freight environmental status, click here

5. Worker Safety – Makes For A Safer Work Environment For Employees and Lowers Business Risks.

IoT devices are particularly good at monitoring hazzard environments. For example, radiation exposure as well as COVID-19 contact tracking. Additionally, businesses are using ToI devices to enhance situational awareness for commercial drivers and to prevent traffic accidents. Also, this minimizes business risk by reducing accidents and fraudulent claims. click here for details  for more innovations with worker safety in the trucking industry.

6. Predictive Maintenance – Monitors Warehouse and Transportation Equipment Prevent Costly Repairs and accidents.

Maintenance managers are increasingly using IoT devices to monitor the status of warehouse and transportation equipment. With this data, preventive maintenance can be scheduled automatically. These IoT solutions are making significant reductions in mechanical failures, reduced repair time, and reduced diagnostic time. For more details on use of technology for preventive maintenance in the transportation industry, click here.

For more use cases and examples of the Internet of Things, see Twilo’s What Is IoT? And EasternPeak’s  13 Cool Examples Of Internet Of Things Applications.

Internet of Things Examples Of Drawbacks Of This Technology

With any disruptive technology come challenges and responsibilities when you try to implement it. Here are some examples of drawbacks to implementing Internet of Things solutions

Security Challenges – Need To Protect The Data and People. 

IoT solutions pose new challenges to protect against hackers. Not only do you need to protect sensitive data, but also you may need to protect people from actual harm in some situations. Specific examples where personal protection needs to be addressed include medical devices, baby monitors, and automobiles.

Personal Privacy – Need To Protect Both Personal Information and Physical Privacy.

Personal privacy is more of a challenge with IoT solutions as these solutions are specifically designed to monitor things to include humans. So besides needing to project personal identifiable information (PII) and other sensitive data, you also need to protect someone’s physical privacy. Additionally in logistics many IoT solutions are deployed globally in many countries. So instead of having to just comply with one set of government regulations, you may need to comply with a wide variety of privacy regulations of several countries. 

For more information on data security, see our article, Data Sensitivity: What You Need to Know For Your Business

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