What happens to your business when everyone, everything and everywhere in the world is connected? To a large extent, you know the answer to this question. You know that online platforms have enabled global organizations to reach new levels of engagement with their customers, while enhancing operational efficiency. You also know that wireless technology and mobile solutions have improved communication, boosted global e-commerce, and given rise to the Internet of Things (IoT) – a world where connected goods, devices and machines can deliver instantaneous data analytics, product tracking, and manufacturing support.
But do you know how fast we are approaching a fully connected future, and how next-generation wireless solutions will get us there? A new trend report from DHL, “Next-Generation Wireless in Logistics,” evaluates next generation technology based on a survey of hundreds of supply chain leaders who shared their plans and expectations.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, our reliance on wireless technology has reached an all-time high. More people are working and socializing remotely…online. There is more traffic on wireless networks, more WiFi, and more Bluetooth connectivity. Planning and investment in future wireless technology began years ago, most notably with the much-publicized development and ongoing implementation of 5G mobile data networks. For end-users, businesses and telecommunications companies, 5G means faster transmission speeds, greater capacity, and enhanced services for an entirely new generation of smart connected devices.
Other existing wireless solutions are also being utilized for industrial use, including well-known technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth, and lesser-known technologies like Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN) and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellites.
What will these evolving wireless systems mean for businesses that rely on efficient supply chains and for the logistics sector? Let’s take a closer look at the DHL trend report:
Creating Total Visibility
A DHL survey of 800 supply chain leaders found that 60% believed that their current visibility into their supply chain is inadequate. Without the ability to track every product or part from its manufacture to its final destination, businesses forfeit a key degree of control along with the confidence of their B2B or B2C customers. The logistics leaders surveyed suggested that achieving true end-to-end visibility requires a centralized platform to drive IoT initiatives, as well as cohesive data collection methods from their supply chains.
Eventually, more wireless network availability and inexpensive high-performance sensors will enable every shipment, logistics asset, infrastructure and facility to be connected. Through universal connectivity, automation will expand and become more efficient, while simultaneously fostering swifter processes that include transparent incident resolution.
Once wireless technology has matured, more supply chain leaders are poised to improve their strategies. According to the survey, 75% intend to implement at least one next-generation wireless technology soon, so they can achieve better supply-chain visibility.
Achieving Wide-Scale Autonomy
Manufacturers and logistics providers increasingly look to autonomous vehicles to improve efficiency and speed. Logistics vehicles on public roads and robots in manufacturing facilities and warehouses will all rely on wireless communication to navigate. As a result, next-generation wireless connectivity is critical to expanding their use, and for a future where autonomous supply chains proliferate.
The ultra-low latency of next-generation wireless, combined with continued progress in machine learning and artificial intelligence, will result in better data-driven prediction systems for forecasting, delivery timing, and routing of goods and materials. Ultimately, they will create more efficient and adaptable supply chains.
Today, there are over 20 billion IoT devices—experts are predicting that more than 30 billion devices will be connected by year end. We can already envision a world where literally everything is connected. But getting there will require ongoing improvements in technology, transmission speed, energy efficiency, capacity, and cost.
How will improvements to wireless systems impact your business? Let us know on Twitter @DHLUS.