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Real-time IoT data monitoring ensures supply chain integrity

Philip van der Wilt Profile picture for user Philip van der Wilt Samsara March 19, 2024
Summary:
Samsara's Philip van der Wilt shares the insights behind the scenes from two organizations who play a major role through the supply chain journey - and how they keep it moving.

Logistics, supply chain and delivery service concept : Fork-lift truck moves a pallet with box carton. Van on a laptop computer, depicts wide spread of products around globe © William Potter - Shutterstock
(© William Potter - Shutterstock)

Supply chains are a complex business. So much so, rarely does a single business operate a supply chain from start to finish. But some firms come close. 

Take DHL Group. With 600,000 employees, it’s one of the largest logistics companies in the world serving more than 220 countries and territories. 

As part of its modernization plans, DHL Supply Chain — a division of the logistics giant which handles everything from warehousing and packaging to transportation — consolidated seven telematics systems into one integrated connected operations platform to help manage its fleet of vehicles. 

Aside from the simplicity of having one vendor, the shift to a cloud-based platform provides a single system of record across the whole business in areas such as safety, telematics, driver workflows, and GPS routing. 

Connected data platforms ensure supply chain integrity

Like many others in the industry, one of the reasons it invested in a connected data platform is to ensure the integrity of the supply chains. 

For DHL, access to reliable diagnostic data, real-time alerts, and automated maintenance workflows have helped to close communication gaps and accelerate maintenance response times. This means the company is more efficient at keeping its vehicles on the road thereby ensuring end-to-end operational performance. 

But it’s not just the vehicles that get round-the-clock monitoring. Cargo integrity is critical to DHL’s operations. Sensors combined with Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity mean DHL has complete visibility of their entire fleet — whether on the road or parked up while a driver takes a mandated break.

The business has deployed a range of devices — not just dashcams and telematics but also trailer tracking, temperature and cargo monitoring, which allow it to understand very quickly what’s going on across its operations within a single platform.

Having eyes on each trailer and allowing customers to see where their loads are in real-time — day or night — is a vital part of supply chain integrity. So too is ensuring that products are monitored to guarantee compliance. 

This is particularly true of perishable items such as dairy products, which need to be kept at certain temperatures to ensure food safety. 

Allan Reeder — a UK-based company with more than 50 lorries, vans and other vehicles on the road — is responsible for delivering more than 500 dairy products to many of London’s best-known restaurants, catering companies and bakers.

Temperature monitoring helps meet food safety standards

Shipping dairy products is no easy business. Products must be kept at specific temperatures throughout the transportation process. But Allan Reeder is able to maintain the highest food safety levels by employing environmental monitors to ensure products stay within the specific, approved temperature range at every stage of the journey. 

Using these sensors and monitors in all of its trailers and vehicles, the business is able to prove that its products are kept at the appropriate temperatures from supplier to warehouse before being loaded onto a vehicle to be delivered to a customer.

It’s attention to detail such as this that allows the business to meet the highest standards for accreditation and fulfils its role in maintaining the integrity of the supply chain. 

It’s a similar story in the US where Cash-Wa Distributing is the largest independent haulier in the Midwest and Great Plains region.

This family-run company distributes more than 20,000 items across 11 states to customers including healthcare facilities, schools, luxury restaurants and convenience stores. Chad Henning, Co-President of Cash-Wa Distributing, said: 

In this highly competitive industry, companies have to continuously improve to meet customer needs and stay ahead in the game. 

Having the ability to track and monitor temperatures, from the time of receiving on the warehouse dock to delivering to the customer’s door, is one example of what our company is doing to help meet our customers' needs. 

With food safety being more important than it ever has been, there is no doubt that temperature tracking is a value-added service that is highly sought after by our customer base.

Automatic monitoring adds to supply chain integrity

Wireless temperature sensors not only ensure that food meets food safety regulations, but they also eliminate the need for manual probes to guarantee proof of product quality. As a result, the company has decreased its credits paid out to customers in response to improper-temperature claims by 30%.

Jim Hoss, VP of Operations at Cash-Wa Distributing, said: 

I’m tracking the produce every time it moves, and I have alarms in place to indicate temperature changes. 

So I know that we’re delivering wholesome quality products in every load — I know, for example, that my lettuce never goes below temperature.

As supply chains become more complex — and have to adhere to greater regulations and checks — it’s this level of real-time monitoring that gives the company confidence in the integrity of its supply chain.

In fact, data is increasingly being used to modernize supply chains — not just to prevent businesses from being left behind in the slow lane but to improve efficiency and guarantee end-to-end operational performance.

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