Trucks and vans have had a simple GPS chip for years. This makes it easy to see where the vehicle, along with the precious cargo is located. But the GPS tracker only became valuable because of another IoT development: the use of RFID tags, which stands for Radio Frequency Identification. The RFID makes it possible to scan individual packages, so you know exactly that the package of neighbour Janssen is in car A, of which the delivery person is expected to be at his doorstep this afternoon at 15:20. It is the combination of technology that created the real revolution that we all know so well by now through the experience of online shopping.
Unique possibilities with the Internet of Things
There are few sectors in which IoT can play as big a role as in the transport sector and logistics. You can collect data about loading and unloading, the location of goods, delays, stocks, delivery times, the status of vehicles or even whether the door is closed on the vehicle.
Getting all this data makes use of IoT. Sensors that send their data over the internet – soon to be 5G – to the cloud, where you can merge this data into new insights and of course get a complete overview of the entire chain. This could be a potential source of unprecedented possibilities. However, as with all revolutionary possibilities there is a degree of risk.
Let’s look at one scenario of possibility; if you can use sensors to measure what’s in a truck or to open the door of a truck, can thieves do the same by hacking a truck from the outside? And what about the risk of ransomware attacks? Common ransomware attacks are used to lock up a system, demanding a ‘ransom’ for you to gain access again. Hackers will normally demand cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin or even untraceable cryptocurrencies like Monero.
Safety is certainly an issue within the transport sector because you drive long distances with all that IoT data onboard. This makes security much more challenging compared to an IoT device that sits in a factory or warehouse.
Sending the data in real-time can also be a challenge. In the Netherlands there is good coverage almost everywhere, but in large parts of Europe you have to look for telephone poles with a telescope and compass. And, if there is one important requirement for IoT, it’s an internet connection.
Managing your Internet of Things
Last but not least, comes the management of those IoT devices, and that can become a practical challenge. If you have a few, it’s a breeze to update, patch and control them individually. But what if it’s a thousand, or ten thousand machines? As technology evolves and the cost of IoT and the cloud decreases, the potential to scale increases enormously. And as we scale, and the more IoT devices we begin to make use of, the greater the challenge of keeping an overview of all these systems. So, the Internet of Things is a world offering many opportunities, yet we also have to path our way carefully to avoid the situation of having ‘’too much information’’ that becomes noise.
At LINKIT we have come up with an innovative solution for this: the Hive platform. It can easily link large quantities of IoT devices. The data is stored securely in the customer’s own cloud environment and from an optional portal you can easily give commands to all your IoT devices. Per piece, all at the same time, or per group (e.g. all vans in Friesland). By setting up an IoT working environment and offering it ready-made, we remove a lot of technical barriers and pave the way for even more and better Internet of Things solutions within the logistics and transport sector. More information about Hive you can find at our Hive product page.
Do you want to know more about how IoT can make your office ‘smart’? Please contact Dick van Straten, our IoT Lead at LINKIT, for more information and a demo.