Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Logistics firms risk missing IoT benefits, warns Inmarsat

Steve Rogerson
December 5, 2017
Many logistics businesses risk missing out on the benefits the IoT can bring, according to a survey by Inmarsat, as they lack the high-speed connectivity to monitor their assets through remote areas, where traditional terrestrial communications networks may not offer the required connectivity.
Logistics businesses must work with strategic partners to ensure they have reliable, continuous connectivity that enables them to track their assets on a global scale, said the satellite company.
Unreliable communications networks may render logistics businesses unable to capture full value from the IoT, concludes the survey of 100 global transport and logistics companies interviewed by Inmarsat.
“In an increasingly inter-connected world, more cargo is moving through more geographies and more modes of transport to reach its destinations,” said Mike Holdsworth, director of transport at Inmarsat Enterprise. “This increasing complexity brings with it new risks and uncertainties, and creates a pressing need for logistics businesses to increase their visibility over the supply chain and make efficiencies, which is where IoT can help.”
The research suggests that while 96 per cent of transportation and logistics organisations believe the success of their IoT deployments is based on reliable ubiquitous connectivity, many businesses are still struggling to access the connectivity they need. Four out of ten identified connectivity issues as one of the biggest challenges facing their IoT deployments, with only IoT skills (54 per cent) and the integration of IoT technology (43 per cent) seen as more problematic. Worryingly, 28 per cent said that connectivity issues threatened to derail their IoT deployments before they had even begun.
“If you can monitor cargo from its point of production to its point of delivery, you can cut down on wastage, understand and adapt levels of supply, and ensure security,” said Holdsworth. “With a combination of IoT sensor technologies, such as radio frequency identification tags, Bluetooth Low Energy and low-power wide area networks, the movement of goods and things can become more efficient. However, the remote location of transport networks and routes clearly poses a challenge for logistics businesses.”
Effective multi-modal, global logistics is reliant on the vast amounts of data gathered through IoT sensor technology, in order to analyse the behaviour of freight vehicles and cargo. However, without ubiquitous global connectivity these sensors are not always able to function, blunting the ability of businesses to orchestrate their supply chains efficiently.
“We can see from our research that gaps in connectivity are proving problematic to successful IoT deployment,” said Holdsworth. “Terrestrial communication networks may only provide sufficiently reliable connectivity for IoT to function in parts of any given route, meaning vital assets such as trucks, trains and ships may enter communications blackspots when they are at most risk, in remote and potentially hazardous environments. For logistics businesses to access the full value of IoT, they must have reliable, continuous connectivity that enables them to constantly track their assets on a global scale.”
He said that working with its partners, Inmarsat L-band services provided global satellite connectivity with up to 99.9% uptime for efficient, global coverage for fleet and cargo management across road, rail and sea.
“We combine our expertise in critical communications with cellular and terrestrial connectivity, LoRaWan technology and data analytics platforms to enable the connected world,” he said. “With our global connectivity, we are enabling IoT projects to thrive, even in the most remote and hostile environments, providing transportation companies with the reliable end-to-end connectivity they require to move into the fourth industrial revolution.”