Advances in tech during the Covid-19 Pandemic

IoT is a buzz word (acronym for Internet of Things)

For logistics, it has been around for a while…over 20 years. But under pandemic environments, robotics and IoT have been making huge strides. In lieu of personal contact, business ventures at every level have been looking for ways to have machines assist. Many restaurants that have a drive thru have been stacked around the block as dining rooms are hard to maintain as well as staff. Food apps have risen to the top as a way to order ahead and simply pickup off of a shelf or drive-thru (eliminating the first “payment” window). Your refrigerator can tell you when you are out of milk. A quick glance at my phone allows me to see if my garage door is closed.

Recent articles by The Loadstar RE: HMM (Hyundai Merchant Marine), details the commitment to making their reefer product more trackable with multiple IoT functionalities like real-time location as well as changes in temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide (CO2) and vibration.

Years ago, several of the top freight forwarders launched a similar service that utilized a cell phone type device that transmitted most of the same data items but did not transmit well unless near a cell tower (coastal). Don’t ask me what “G” we were at then. I would assume this new IoT offering by Hyundai has WIFI usage or similar technology to make it work worldwide. 5G tech is offering some great opportunity.

On a further positive note, there is an entity that is working to standardize such processes and tech called the DCSA.ORG.  Standards will be key to connect multiple parties via API  (application programming interface) that is part of any freight forwarder’s (or carrier’s) tracking and tracing system. No longer having to change proprietary extensions in data sets to make them work. Having data at your fingertips, 24/7. The ability to change the temperature on your reefer container from your desk is an interesting concept. I can change my thermostat remotely for my home…so why not?

I recently spoke to Minnesota based Infinity Robotics regarding ideas and technologies on the leading edge. Mr. David Neville, President of Infinity Robotics, discussed soft robotics where the “fingers” of a robot “hand” can pick up eggs or grapes without damage.

We’ve come a long way in repetitive processes and what can be done. Robotics married with automated conveyor systems and IoT will have a place in logistics more and more as small parcel and even ocean container loading/unloading becomes possible. A traditional need for “kitting” in which several retail items are packaged together is now being done with robotics and conveyors. Labor shortages will not happen as much if you consider these technologies.