The opportunity of IoT and disruptive technology

The opportunity of IoT and disruptive technology

Dheeraj Kohli (pictured), Vice President and Global Head of Travel and Transportation, Unisys Corporation, explains why the Internet of Things has the potential to revolutionize how cargo providers do business.

Few would argue that the vast boom in data has brought with it enormous opportunities to transform how business is done.

Despite the benefits, the air cargo industry has thus far struggled to take advantage of this influx of data, partly due to a long history of paper-based processes, and also due to the vast complexity of the global supply chain.

However, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the use of smart devices present a unique opportunity to help the cargo industry address its data shortcomings.

Consider that at its core, the IoT provides the ability to capture real-time data, connected directly to how the customer is using it, and leverage that data to drive decision-making processes.

There are three areas, in particular, that IoT holds great potential for revolutionizing how cargo providers do business, specifically: improved tracking and visibility of shipments, improved productivity, and most importantly, greater customer satisfaction.

Better tracking and visibility: Importantly, disruptive technologies like IoT can enable warehouse data and shipment information to be accessed on smartphones or tablets in real-time. Real-time updates mean that data is always current, eliminating confusion and redundancies.

More importantly, this means that IoT devices can enable real-time capturing and tracking to ensure the integrity of things like temperature and humidity – critical elements when transporting sensitive cargo such as pharmaceutical products or pets.

With disruptive technologies like IoT, cargo can be tracked and monitored at every step of its journey.

 Improved productivity: The traditional cargo supply chain has been hindered – in transit, on the dock, and at the warehouse – by the limitations of paper and traditional rigid processes.

Using a mobile device or tablet to register shipment information, however, not only provides better visibility, but also means that workers stay in the warehouse without interruption and can process more information, faster.

Additionally, the data generated from workers’ devices and shipment scans can help freight forwarders improve the efficiency of their operations.

Greater customer satisfaction: In the past, cargo players had no means of assessing the validity of customer claims, so the claim would have to be paid.

By leveraging disruptive technologies, workers can capture images to visually document the condition of shipments at the time of delivery.

Additionally, customers can be required to sign off, not only on receiving the cargo, but also on the state of the cargo. Claims can therefore be validated or disproved with documentary evidence.

Additionally, greater visibility afforded by IoT means misplaced shipments can be more easily located by accessing the last known location in the system, since everything can be tracked in real-time.

A great example of this is Unisys’ Digi-Pet™, which uses sensors to allow travellers to track and monitor their pets traveling in aircraft cargo holds – from their smartphone – bringing a valuable service directly to the customer.

The key to future success for freight forwarders lies in embracing next-generation disruptive technologies like mobility, beacons and IoT. It enables carriers to make data-driven decisions that can improve their operational efficiency and quality of service.

Dheeraj Kohli is Vice President and the Global Head of Travel and Transportation for Blue Bell-based Unisys Corporation. He can be reached at