IoT seems to be grabbing most data capture headlines today, and with good reason. A Transforma Insights report valued the IoT market at $465 billion in 2019 and states it will reach an impressive $1.5 trillion by 2030. This increase aligns with the number of deployed IoT devices in the wild—there were 7.6 billion active IoT devices in 2019 with more than 24 billion projected by 2030 according to the same Transforma report. No matter how you look at it, IoT is a huge opportunity. However, unlike some technologies that completely replace the previous way of doing things, IoT has limitations. Sensors are costly, aren't ideal for all situations and trusted legacy solutions built on barcoding can still provide much value.
Rather than discounting IoT or keeping it off your line card, we recommend creating solutions that bring together the best of barcodes and IoT. Having the two work together can yield impressive results. Here's how we see supply chains working in the future—from manufacturing to the point of sale.
Manufacturing, warehousing and distribution
Raw materials and parts are logged in receiving. Barcodes, RFID, or a combination of both can be used to track materials by the pallet, case or piece, depending on the manufacturer's tracking and tracing needs. If cold storage is being used, temperature sensors can be used to ensure materials are stored within the required parameters.
During manufacturing, parts are tracked using these same technologies, giving the manufacturer history of every part and material used and the finished product they were used for.
Barcodes and RFID can once again be used to pack and ship pallets, cases or items. Warehouses can leverage aerial drones to scan items and their location autonomously and safely, while automated guided vehicles and robots can restock and pick items 24/7/365.
Transportation and logistics
Products sent from manufacturing to the retailer or, more likely, warehousing can be tracked during their journey with a variety of sensors. GPS provides real-time location and sends automated alerts if unexpected events occur. If needed, IoT temperature and humidity sensors can provide real-time data and alerts during transportation between facilities. Weight sensors can ensure trucks are loaded to their optimum capacity. Vibration sensors can ensure products aren't damaged during transit.
The retailer scans received merchandise with a barcode or RFID scanner and again when individual products are sold. Those same scanners are used for regular inventory counts, which can trigger automated replenishment orders. Within the store, beacons are used to engage with customers and promote sales. Sensors also help drive dynamic digital signage in the store. Barcode scanners are used at checkout. Payments can be made with traditional credit cards, QR codes or NFC.
The bottom line
In the above scenario, we've illustrated how barcodes, RFID, GPS, temperature sensors, humidity sensors, vibration sensors, beacons and more can be used to streamline operations, reduce expenses and increase sales. However, the entire solution is less impactful if any of the pieces are missing. Clearly, traditional data capture technologies and IoT go hand in hand. For more information on how to bring all these solutions together, contact Jonno Wells
, Ingram Micro's IoT expert.