History is littered with innovations born from tragedies and the recent pandemic is no exception. From the construction industry to the local government sector, organisations have harnessed digital technologies including the Internet of Things (IoT) to adapt the way they operate. This has also been true in the transport and logistics industries.

Few people in transport and logistics won’t have recognised the benefits of intelligent automation. Here too, IoT is set to underpin significant advances. The transport and logistics industries are littered with opportunities to use IoT to improve productivity and solve problems. Here are ten examples.

Top 10 IoT benefits to the transport and logistics industries

1. Theft & hazard reduction through video surveillance

Surveillance cameras provide access to real-time security footage and enable organisations to grant staff access to locations, remotely. The same technology can be used to monitor restricted and potentially hazardous areas for unauthorised personnel and safety concerns respectively.

2. Eliminating eyeballing errors

AI-enabled video analytics can be used to identify damage to containers, pallets and packages that human eyes can easily miss.

3. Automating customer service using AI

AI chatbots can assist with customer quotes and general customer service by eliminating repeat requests and mundane tasks from human workflows. With such functions automated, customers with important queries should in theory have fewer barriers between them and their answers.

4. End-to-end delivery tracking visibility and optimisation

Sensors can monitor products from the warehouse to a customer’s front door, including by tracking delivery vehicles and package status (using RFID) in real time. The resulting data can be used to optimise delivery schedules, the time required to complete a process, and determine whether additional drivers are needed at certain times (due to traffic or package-volume issues).

5. Preventing equipment malfunction

IoT devices’ ability to constantly monitor assets makes it possible to send early warnings when a machine stops working optimally. This provides an opportunity to perform minor maintenance instead of waiting for catastrophic failure and the subsequent, costly downtime.

6. Inventory and supply chain monitoring

Warehouse sensors can automatically detect when inventory is running low and automatically order stock accordingly. The data can also provide insights about how long it takes different products to sell and which products would benefit from being moved to easier-to-access locations.  

7. Warehouse monitoring

Warehouse sensors can also monitor temperature, humidity and other environmental conditions that might affect prolonged storage and safety. They can also measure employee efficiency in real-time.

8. Improved cybersecurity

Inherent, real-time threat monitoring can help prevent damaging intrusions by bad actors, in addition to protecting, personal and sensitive data.

9. Managing vehicular traffic flow

Using smart cameras in smart cities enables efficiencies in population movement. The sensors can be deployed in areas of frequent vehicular accidents; monitor broken-down vehicles; optimise parking-spot turnover; identify illegally parked vehicles and automatically notify rangers; ascertain vehicular occupancy and the type of vehicles that frequent an area.

10. Population flow management

The data from smart cameras can also help identify the volumes and types of people in busy areas and help make provisions for them. This may include provisioning more eating areas and bins at lunch time, or adding-and-adjusting road-crossing features.

Transport and logistics IoT in practise

While fixed warehousing for transport and logistics offers no shortage of surprises, it tends to be more predictable in nature than broader transport environments in cities. The capabilities of Outcomex and its 365mesh platform are a good example of use cases in practise.

The 365mesh platform is an Australian-owned and Australian-hosted, end-to-end, IoT ecosystem that can be tailored to meet the bespoke needs of multiple industries. The platform’s operational capabilities include the procurement, developing and manufacturing, installation, management and monitoring of smart devices such as sensors and cameras; the installation and operation of networks, connectivity and storage; the creation, implementation, security and operation of software, analytics, data processing, AI-driven analysis and machine learning technologies.

Outcomex recently won a Cisco Partner Innovation Challenge award for its implementation of TransportDeck, which is founded on 365mesh (the 365mesh platform functions separately to Outcomex systems and white-labelled customer deployments. This ensures there are strict processes securely in place to protect IoT environments).

TransportDeck provided the ability to monitor, count and gather information regarding public transport areas. These included pick-up-drop-off (PUDO) bays, taxi ranks and bus stops, as well as general pedestrian flow and the behaviour of different types of vehicles. It embraced Cisco APIs and industrial hardware (including Meraki cameras) and utilised advanced object recognition capabilities with its AI and machine-learning algorithms. In doing so, TransportDeck now offers real-time and historical visibility and analytics that allow its customers to make informed business decisions while improving efficiency and cutting costs. This also enables customers to make informed decisions about area accessibility, people and vehicular traffic flow and safety.

Luca Palermo, IoT Technical Lead for Outcomex, explains, “365mesh is a protocol independent platform, meaning any data source – cameras, sensors, vehicles – can be ingested into our AI / ML analytics engine and produce meaningful insights. It constantly ‘learns’ by the data collected and it becomes more accurate over time.”

Outcomex is a sponsor of IoT Impact, Australia’s premiere Internet of Things conference. Outcomex Managing Director Michael van Zoggel and Outcomex Account Executive Shervin Fathinia will speak at IoT Impact about the unexpected lessons learned during the company’s six-year journey developing an end-to-end IoT solution for multiple use cases. IoT Impact will take place in Melbourne on 9 June (see the agenda, here) but tickets are limited and prices rise soon so, get in quick and buy tickets now!