The Internet of Things (IoT) is a phrase that explains the concept of physical devices being linked to the web, and each other. It is a computing technology that enables physical devices to exchange data. The physical devices can be objects, animals and digital machines given special identifiers, and the capacity to exchange information over the internet without human intervention. The use of it in modern logistics is gathering pace, as developers work around the clock to address fundamental challenges. On the other hand, the cloud (or more formally, cloud computing) is the ability to access personal or business data using the internet, rather than the computer’s physical hard drive. A perfect example of a cloud computing service is Google Drive. Cloud computing allows people to backup, synchronize, and store emails and data. Advances in cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies have opened huge opportunities in the logistics industry, in ways never experienced before.
The idea of the cloud has been in existence for over 20 years now.
However, its application in port logistics has largely not taken root. We are living in times of volatile financial markets and disruption of supply networks, and having the ability to figure these events can offer businesses a competitive advantage over rivals. The cloud enables information to flow within the company in real-time, thus enhancing efficient communication among different departments. All port operators like fleet managers, drivers, and freight carriers can exchange information fast, reducing congestion and streamlining port operations. Cloud computing can also help with disaster recovery in port logistics. Ports store a lot of cargo-related data, and any human error or natural disaster can disrupt businesses. The cloud provides a secure and solid platform to store data, and keep it safe from disasters or human error. Furthermore, cloud computing technologies have the capacity to enhance container discharge and loading at the port.
It is important for ports and cargo companies to monitor operations, and the Internet of Things has made it efficient and easier.
The IoT is a broad framework of interconnected devices, exchanging data with one another over the internet. The IoT also helps to reduce costs, and open opportunities to generate more revenue. Ports can use the IoT, or other data-based technology, in areas such as shipment tracking and warehouse storage monitoring. It can also be used to monitor the utilization of cranes, carries, storage facilities, parking lots, trucks, and other types of infrastructure. This helps in pinpointing underused resources, and making plans for enhanced optimization. Alarm sensors that rely on IoT technology can be used to detect theft, and improve the security of cargo in the port. The sensors can also be utilized to track environmental conditions like humidity and temperature, thus helping the port operators provide suitable storage conditions for different cargo. The port can use its systems to communicate with ships at sea, directing them to their docking position. Also, the systems can be utilized to direct trucks to available parking, thus managing congestion and enhancing efficiency in the port.
The use of IoT applications, like Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), in several ports in the United States ensures transparency in logistics and helps in efforts to counter terrorism. The technology also provides safe transit of goods to their destination. Freight managers are in a position to determine the exact location of items in port using RFID tags, allowing fast access. The IoT allows the interconnection of components located in different areas, thereby enabling the efficient handling of containers, trucks and ships located in various ports. The connection of all devices at the port allows mining and integration of data and clear visibility of all areas of the port. Mined data from port allows the ports to enhance customer relations. The IoT allows the ports to collect and process data for decision-making and performance optimization. IoT-based technologies, like GPS, track the movement of containers in and outside the port to ensure they are safe. Others, like CCTV, allow a precise and real-time monitoring of port operations, providing visibility and transparency.
Use of the IoT and cloud computing has opened huge business opportunities in the port logistics industry.
Ports can move and store more cargo without expanding their physical space, because operations have been made faster and more efficient. The IoT and the cloud have also improved security in ports through the use of alarms. These technologies are expected to gain prominence over time.