Guest Column | December 1, 2020

5 Questions to Address Increased Supply Chain Demands

By Marc Pegulu, Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group


The pandemic has had many side effects on the global supply chain, causing severe disruptions many companies hadn’t ever experienced before. With increased delivery volumes and the need to ensure safety for supply chain workers, the upcoming holiday shopping season will bring with it new hurdles.

According to Junpier Research, there will be a 27 percent increase in asset tracking usage over the next five years. This number hit 90 million in 2020 and will increase to 114 million by 2025. Growth has been driven by the need to increase resilience in supply chains as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for real-time data on location and delays to logistics operations.

By continuously incorporating smart technology solutions into supply chain operations, organizations can effectively track large volumes of valuable assets that are in transit throughout the busiest time of year for online shopping.

What are the biggest supply chain management learnings brought to light by the pandemic that companies should address?

From the increase in online shopping to empty grocery shelves, the pandemic amplified the need to build a more resilient and agile supply chain. To address this issue, organizations learned the power of an Internet of Things (IoT) asset tracking system that leverages low power and long-range technology to provide users with a highly versatile solution. Incorporating these features with a low cost and lightweight solution with a standard infrastructure results in a reliable tracking solution that allows logistics operators to reduce downtime during transportation.

Will lingering supply chain issues from the pandemic impact this year’s holiday shopping season?

During the pandemic, consumer shopping patterns changed drastically and there has been an uptake in online shopping and home delivery services. Consumers have grown to expect front-door delivery in a matter of hours. As the holiday season is historically the busiest time of year for shopping, the increase in online shopping requires asset tracking technology to support the supply chain and consumer demands.

By deploying long-range, low power sensors, organizations can easily track large volumes of valuable assets from the warehouse to delivery. Sensors can be placed in shipping containers, within cargo planes, vehicles, and other transport locations to constantly monitor the status of every asset throughout transit. With this level of accuracy, organizations can increase reliability and visibility, and consumers can expect to see their orders arrive more efficiently.

How can technology help retailers/supply chain managers prepare for the jump in buying?

With long-range, low power asset management technology, companies have a better opportunity to harness increased connectivity to improve their logistics management. Asset tracking and geolocation solutions serve as a valuable tool to make life easier for logistic managers. They offer companies the ability to have more efficient transportation management and operations, optimized allocation and use of resources, real-time location-tracking, and overall increased efficiency and productivity.

Looking ahead to the New Year, what should companies be prioritizing now when it comes to supply chain operations?

The pandemic has taught many companies that while asset tracking is a huge priority for organizations, companies need to be able to keep their most important asset – the people – safe. With heightened concerns around employee’s safety and health, smart sensor solutions can help organizations monitor contact with infected individuals, air quality, and proximity to one another:

  • Contact Tracing: Wearable solutions can help minimize contagion risk during outbreaks. With Bluetooth beacons and long-range, low-power networks, smart sensor solutions can monitor location data to see who in a facility/warehouse may have come in contact with someone that has been infected.
  • Air Quality Monitoring: Through wireless, real-time monitoring of carbon dioxide (CO2), temperature, and humidity for indoor environments, smart sensor solutions can help building owners safely re-occupy space in a post-COVID world.
  • Proximity Tracing: As more warehouses bring in staff, sensors can help secure the workplace by warning employees to maintain social distance and provide insights into workplace risks. This type of solution recognizes close contacts that may occur as employees are working in close spaces.

What trends should we be on the lookout for in the New Year?

The future of the supply chain requires organizations to be more flexible and agile. This will help them respond to changes within short notice. For the supply chain, agility can be secured with an IoT solution that offers increased visibility into supply chain operations. With the right tools and solutions, supply chain managers can monitor what’s happening at each point of operations. This is important for the efficiency of the entire supply chain process from procurement, manufacturing, transport, and delivery.

About The Author

Marc Pegulu is Vice President and General Manager for Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group.