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Innovative IoT sensor technology is adding new value to Track and Trace solutions. Proactively monitoring shipments, sensors deliver on-the-spot notifications of adverse events in the supply chain. But existing solutions have to be flexible to fully embrace the new technology.

With continued advancements in IoT technology, we are seeing increasing opportunities to enhance the information available to supply chain traceability solutions. Many of these new technologies provide additional data on the status or location of an item during its journey, enabling automated issue notification during shipping, transit, or receiving. We can now proactively monitor items as they move through the supply chain, detecting issues and pinpointing precisely where they are occurring.

Following on from our last blog, when we talked about “born-digital” packaging, we have been tracking another interesting new technology from SpotSee, an IoT solution provider based in Dallas, Texas. SpotSee has developed a passive-RFID-enabled shock indicator that can be attached to any product or shipment. Like other shock indicators, ShockWatch® RFID turns red when an impact beyond a specific g-force threshold has occurred. Where it gets interesting is that because of the RFID technology, you do not require line of site and you can automatically identify which products need to be checked for damage, as opposed to relying purely on visual inspection. And the real bonus – tracked items inside boxes, crates, or packages are still fully readable.

The RFID tag can be integrated with your traceability solution to not only flag an impact-damage event, but also pinpoint its location so that you can fix the underlying problem. Less damage means fewer repairs, less replacement shipments, fewer delays – and a more efficient supply chain.

This new technology is yet another example of how utilizing IoT-based sensors, for multiple purposes, can improve the ROI of supply chain traceability solutions. It clearly demonstrates why it is imperative to implement a supply chain traceability solution with the flexibility to incorporate new technology and context data. The pace of change in the IoT space will continue to accelerate, as will the amount of data available to enhance traceability. However, only companies with configurable traceability solutions will be in a position to capitalize on these new levels of information and have the capacity to relay data to their existing ERP solutions and other supporting systems.

Imagine a receiving process where you can read the RFID tag embedded in the indicator and automatically process a goods receipt based on context data stored in your traceability system. At the same time, the system checks for potential quality issues caused by the mishandling of a product during transit, automatically rerouting the shipment to a quality hold area without the need for manual intervention. This is not a pipe dream. These are the types of real process improvements you can expect from an integrated solution with new IoT technology.