Technology is intertwined in nearly every element of our lives. Which makes understanding that technology more important than ever.  

In our on-going Tech Talk series, we’ll be leaning on the expertise of our CTO, Jonathan Salama, to decode the most prevalent tech terms of the day. 

What is the “Internet of Things”

 Jonathan Salama is the co-founder and CTO of Transfix.

Jonathan Salama is the co-founder and CTO of Transfix.

This represents the concept of interconnecting objects that are internet-enabled. In application, this transforms everyday objects, allowing them to send and receive data remotely. From cars and household appliances to pacemakers and inhalers. As computer chips become smaller and more powerful, nearly every object now has the potential to be an IoT device. 

IoT On The Road

As more and more devices join the IoT ecosystem, it’s a natural progression for the transportation industry to explore its potential. We sat down with one of our software engineers, Jack Meagher, to understand how IoT-enabled devices can reinvent supply chains across the country. Here is our conversation.

While IoT isn’t a new concept, it’s now gaining more traction within the supply chain industry because of its predictive capabilities. Forecasting when a good will expire or predicting equipment failures on the road are just couple examples. What are some pros and cons you see with supply chains beginning to implement this into their business operations?

IoT is an inherently complex beast. Introducing IoT-enabled devices into the industry will take time. There will inevitably be a lot of growing pains, and the wins won’t be realized immediately. However, the nature of supply chain management is to manage a distributed system with high failure rates. Ultimately, the increased visibility and accountability should help drive efficiency across the entire market.

 Jack Meagher is a Software Engineer for Transfix

Jack Meagher is a Software Engineer for Transfix

Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than half of businesses will implement IoT in some way. How do you foresee IoT becoming a natural integration for businesses? Do you predict shortcomings? How accurate do you think the information being provided to suppliers is?

IoT in supply chain management is all about risk management/mitigation and global efficiency gains. Every sufficiently big player will want it, and eventually it may become a de facto standard — why would any shippers use a carrier who can’t provide them with highly granular information over one who can? However, there’s a lot of changing hands from shipment to final delivery, and almost none of the incentives along the way are completely aligned. Insuring data integrity throughout the supply chain is a major hurdle.

Would you consider Transfix as part of the IoT movement, even though it’s referred to as a “device”. Why or why not?

At this juncture, no. Our devices — phones — are still in the hands of real people, and so it’s really just the internet. Our in-progress integration with ELDs; however, is absolutely IoT!

Studies show that IoT can decrease driving time by up to 25%. There’s tremendous value in giving drivers their time back, but where do you foresee IoT system integrations benefitting the most? The logistics side or the supply chain?

Depending on the definition of IoT here, that kind of (enormous) efficiency gain is probably coming from the smarter matching of carriers with loads; those kinds of high-level improvements are likely to be the first to materialize. However, given enough time, I think that there are lots of other efficiencies to be won; for example, if a retailer can better predict customer demand, they can send less excess product to stores.

This isn’t even taking into account the warehouse side of things. There are enormous potential efficiency improvements that can be brought to the loading dock by IoT.

If you’d like to learn more about IoT or have questions for Jack or Jonathan, submit them here!

Interested in a tech topic? If you have questions for our members of Data, Engineering, or Tech teams, we’d be happy to answer them in upcoming posts! Tweet at us with the hashtag #TalkToTech.

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