The pandemic has wreaked havoc on retail and manufacturing supply chains, but innovative new sensors could save the day

Supply chain and logistics have seen massive disruptions as a result of COVID-19, creating new challenges for retail and manufacturing operations worldwide. In its new report “Sensing for Modern Logistics,” Lux Research identifies how sensors can be used to improve and modernize logistics across various industries to shore up global supply chain infrastructures.

According to Lux, there are four critical points in the logistics process – point of origin, warehousing, transit, and destination – each with a unique set of challenges that impact the efficiency of supply chains, sometimes even leading to complete breakdowns.

“Things that go wrong in the logistics process include pilfering, asset misplacement, and physical damage due to improper storage conditions and unexpected events,” explained Lisheng Gao, Ph.D., Analyst at Lux Research and lead author of the report. These logistical challenges will be exacerbated as vaccines become available for COVID-19. “It’s now more important than ever to ensure the right goods are transported in the right quantities, under the right conditions, and delivered to the right place at the right time. Only then will it be possible for society to remain functional and ensure that abundant resources are available to fight the pandemic,” Gao added.

Fortunately, sensors can alert companies to these problems and help them address these issues, sometimes even before they become a problem. “IoT sensing solutions are the most promising, as they can enhance data visibility and transparency across the entire process and facilitate planning, optimizing, and uncovering other invisible insights,” said Gao. They can be used to monitor environmental conditions, prevent misplacement, identify damages, avoid accidents, ensure compliance, track location, reveal real-time conditions, and more. Even without network connections, sensors can still reveal the logistical history of the process, helping to identify events that might have compromised goods.

Lux believes that today, sensing solutions for logistics are fragmented, with no standardized solutions available to span the entire logistics journey. Nonetheless, sensors play a critical role in enabling information transparency to facilitate planning, optimization, and risk management in the supply chain. Lux Research recommends that companies that are looking for sensing solutions embrace the available technologies, despite their current limitations.

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