Globally, the warehousing and logistics industry has been undergoing rapid change, owing to a rise in digitalization initiatives and the adoption of IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) technologies. The expected value of the global smart logistics market is anticipated to grow to $27 billion by 2023, up from $16 billion in 20161. This is reflective of how sophisticated technology, smarter shipping, and integration with IIoT solutions are playing a crucial role in driving the sector forward.
Here in the Gulf, the appetite for investment in digital transformation is building rapidly as regional governments push forward with ‘smart’ strategies and initiatives. It is a pioneering region in terms of adopting new technologies, largely because it is typically not held back by legacy systems that are common in other markets. We are seeing that IIoT-enabled technology is increasingly being used to deliver improved efficiency and productivity in business operations.
Appetite for IIoT-enabled technology
A recent survey by Honeywell analyzed the views of approximately 250 C-level executives at medium-to-large companies in the UAE and Saudi Arabia across the buildings and cities, transport and logistics and industrial sectors. The results confirmed that there is a strong and growing appetite among businesses to embrace digitalization. In the transportation and logistics sector specifically, 50% of respondents said IIoT solutions are critically important to their operations today, while a further 19% said these technologies would become critical to operations over the next five years. In addition, 47% of respondents said their organizations are already investing in IIoT today, while 70% reported they had plans to increase investments over the next five years.
IIoT is a natural fit for the transport and logistics sector, where intense competition, tight margins, and market requirements to deliver very high levels of speed and accuracy can put businesses under pressure. Businesses are generating more data from increasingly connected operations, and are asking for technologies to help aggregate this data and convert it into insights that can help drive improved efficiency and profitability.
Among the immediate IIoT benefits highlighted by transportation and logistics companies we surveyed were time savings (53%), increased revenue and money savings (39% respectively) and improved decision-making (36%).
Warehouse of the future
Today, many large distribution centers in the region are already reaping the benefits of IIoT. We are seeing many distribution centers deploy software and advanced technologies in order to meet growing consumer demands, and expect this growth to continue at a fast pace. The warehouse of the future will leverage interactive and mobile technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and big data, changing the way warehouses receive, store, and ship goods, ultimately transforming the supply chain. Advanced technology elements such as voice software and augmented reality will also improve worker productivity and reduce training times. Robotics too will continue to change warehousing solutions, where robots will be able to pick and deliver orders, and collaborative robotics (or “cobots”) will work alongside humans to create great efficiencies.
Our focus now is on developing technology that improves the level of automation within the industry, while enhancing worker safety, productivity and efficiency. An IIoT-enabled distribution center can continuously monitor activities in real time and notify operators when errors arise, so appropriate actions can be taken to prevent or minimize downtime. Our aim is to help organizations successfully identify inefficiencies in real-time, and enable them to constantly improve the effectiveness of their operations.
Ahead of the curve
The region is currently leading the way with many supply chain and logistics organizations placed ahead of the curve when it comes to IIoT. They understand the key benefits of IIoT implementation, and view it as critical to growth. Through the active adoption of the latest technology, these companies are not only well-placed to successfully realize the operational gains that IIoT has to offer, but can considerably improve the quality of service and offerings for their customers.
Honeywell is demonstrating its industry-leading solutions for connected warehouses and distribution centers at GITEX 2019, Hall 5, Stand B1 (Enterprise Solutions), Oct. 06-10, 2019, at the Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC).