What Role Will The IoT Play In Transportation And Logistics Safety?

Transportation and Logistics

What do a warehouse employee, driver and retail store have in common? They’re all connected by the Internet of Things—a technology taking over and revolutionizing transportation and logistics.

What do a warehouse employee, a driver and a retail store all have in common?

They’re all connected by the Internet of Things—a technology taking over and revolutionizing transportation and logistics. Through embedded sensors and smarter technology, the industry is on the verge of reinventing itself.

IoT gives logistics a boost

There’s been a steadily growing change in the transportation and logistics industry over the past decade, according to Read Write. Budgets for the sector are shrinking, and logistics managers are being increasingly relied on to improve profits with fewer resources than they’ve had before at their disposal. In the same sphere, corporate reliance on big data has skyrocketed. It was only a matter of time before the two came together to form the perfect match.

“IoT intertwines perfectly with transportation and logistics.”

IoT applications offer interconnectivity between previously incommunicable objects, like trucks or pallets, through the use of sensors and other types of devices. These sensors track everything from movement to the speed in which an action is completed.

SupplyChain24/7 reported a lot of the benefits derived from routine implementation of IoT involve reduced overhead or increased productivity. But underneath it all are improved safety methods that can extend across the workforce.

Key takeaway: IoT is already prevalent in the industry, which lays the fundamental infrastructure needed to improve safety by leveraging big data.

Worker safety reimagined

Real-time transparency into fleet management and asset management offers more than a bird’s eye view into how errant behavior impacts operations. SupplyChain24/7 reported the use of Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RFID) allows logistics managers to track areas prone to accidents—such as the warehouse and yard. This is a sector of the industry where humans meet machinery, and coordination of the two is key to keeping people safe.

An article by the Deloitte University Press posited this data-rich industry will expand its use of IoT to realign its infrastructure. But this “Information Value Loop,” as the source dubbed it, can facilitate a discussion about how these devices promote adherence to safety standards:

  • Action creates data, which devices communicate to each other and send to a machine that aggregates the raw figures.
  • Safety and facility managers analyze the collected information.
  • This insight can then guide changes to future actions and methods.

Key takeaway: Big data is primarily used to track movement, which can help safety managers understand high-risk areas of operation and develop new safety methods to keep workers out of harm’s way.

IoT allows for interconnectivity between different parts of the shipping and logistics process.

Making a change today

Data isn’t useful to a safety manager unless he or she knows what to do with it. IoT is often mentioned with the phrase, “actionable insights,” but what does that really mean? In essence, by understanding common areas of injury within the transportation and logistics industry, safety managers can develop new ways to prevent accidents.

How? First, it’s important to know where some run-of-the-mill workplace incidents occur:

  • Talking Logistics reported the usual on-the-road accidents involve distracted driving from either the trucker’s end or another driver. Injuries originating from entering and exiting the cab are frequent off-the-road hazards.
  • Inside a warehouse or yard, powered industrial truck misuse or the machine guarding absence are both on OSHA’s top 10 most cited safety standards and are good metrics to track.

Next, you’ll want to gather a large sample size indicating average traffic patterns, the number of interactions per injury or other key statistics RFID lends itself well to. For example, you can track forklifts to understand the routes they’ll most likely take during hours when foot traffic in the yard or warehouse is high. Then, it’s simply a matter of zeroing in on whether to adjust these patterns for the forklifts or restructure the layout of the warehouse to ensure employees won’t accidentally get in the way.

Accounting for driver safety on the road is a little more difficult but still manageable. According to CIO.com, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority is installing over 3,000 devices along the route to help improve driver safety and emergency response times. In the same sense, transportation and logistics companies should look to leverage the interconnectivity of GPS, regional traffic patterns and other potential hazards in an effort to automatically update the driver’s GPS with the most efficient route.

Key takeawayData analysis allows safety managers to better focus their time and resources on preventing accidents.

IoT and the transportation and logistics industries are becoming more intertwined than ever—how does your company plan on using data to make a safer workplace? Leave a comment below to let us know.

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