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Internet of Things Doing Some Heavy Lifting (IoT)
The supply chain is the primary driver of the explosive expansion of M2M applications
By: Greg Smith
Aug. 23, 2014 11:00 PM
In the last decade, the "Internet of Things" has expanded from a small set of assets with first-generation radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to a proliferation of devices using a variety of wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies. By some estimates, there are as many as 10 billion M2M devices deployed worldwide today, expected to grow to a ubiquitous 30 billion by the end of this decade.
The power of M2M lies in its ability to capture, transmit and analyze asset data automatically - without human intervention - and inform business decisions that increase operational efficiencies, improve service capabilities and save money.
The supply chain is the primary driver of the explosive expansion of M2M applications, accounting for as much as 40% of revenue growth in the M2M market. It's no wonder: manufacturers, distributors and retailers - especially those with large-scale enterprises - have long regarded supply chain optimization as a critical competitive differentiator.
One example of an M2M technology undergoing a surge of adoption across global supply chains is a wireless Vehicle Management System (VMS) for industrial trucks, such as forklifts.
Demand Drivers for VMS
In addition to operator labor, the major costs associated with industrial trucks include acquisition (purchase or lease); damage (to facilities and products, as well as the vehicles themselves); maintenance; energy to power the vehicles; and a variety of direct and indirect costs related to injuries caused by vehicle accidents.
Industrial trucks are also the object of extensive governmental safety regulations, detailed in Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) standard number 1910.178.
What Does a VMS Do?
More specifically, a VMS can improve productivity by ensuring that equipment is available to work in the proper place at the right time, tracking fleet utilization (e.g., peak vehicle usage over time), measuring operator productivity (e.g., time logged into vehicles vs. time paid, and time actively working vs. time logged in), and benchmarking best-practice KPIs for equipment usage.
A VMS also helps enforce workplace safety policies by restricting vehicle access only to trained, authorized personnel, and by requiring operators to complete an electronic safety inspection checklist prior to using equipment. In addition, a VMS typically incorporates an impact sensing system that enables management to automate responses to vehicle accidents.
VMS systems typically deliver a return on investment by: (1) reducing damage to vehicles, facilities, and goods; (2) reducing or avoiding vehicle acquisition costs by justifying decreases in fleet size; (3) optimizing fleet maintenance controls to reduce maintenance costs; (4) eliminating costs traditionally associated with monitoring and enforcing safety policies; and (5) increasing productivity and justifying a reduction or reallocation of labor.
25 Years Ago, WMS...Today, VMS
VMS for industrial trucks is in an evolutionary stage similar to where WMS was a decade ago. Many progressive and respected supply chains have deployed VMS - users include some of the world's largest auto makers, consumer packaged goods companies, food producers, government organizations, industrial manufacturers, and retailers. Looking at the pace of WMS adoption is a precedent, VMS technology can be expected to proliferate rapidly, and any organization with sizable material handling operations will be at a competitive disadvantage if it does not use VMS.
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