DHL Supply Chain announced it is moving forward with a “narrowband internet of things” (NB-IoT) program at a DHL automotive site in Liuzhou, China, in partnership with Chinese technology conglomerate Huawei Technologies. The move is intended to streamline management at the site’s manufacturing yard by connecting 100 DHL drivers and 30 docks at the site with the IoT.
The IoT refers to everyday physical objects embedded with computing devices, enabling them to connect with a network and send and receive data. The data available through the IoT can improve efficiency and help prevent logistical snags. For example, in an automotive manufacturing yard, delivery trucks connected to the IoT will receive automatic alerts to deliver tires to the correct dock at the end of the assembly line where they are needed, rather than one at the beginning of the line.
The automotive site project will use NB-IoT chipsets that connect to the internet through common cellular telecommunications bands, like long-term evolution, or LTE. The narrowband technology allows low power usage for connected devices, improving power consumption and battery life of connected devices. This narrowband keeps investment costs low, as vehicle detectors are embedded with the chipsets without additional infrastructure requirements, while data are transmitted via existing public base stations that have been upgraded for NB-IoT support.
The program is expected to be in a “proof-of-concept” phase through September, DHL said, during which time it will likely be upgraded with other features like automatic number-plate recognition and geofencing.
Back in February, Deutsche Post DHL Group and Huawei signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on a range of supply chain services for customers using the IoT. Under the MOU, Huawei’s connectivity experts and network infrastructure are accessible to Deutsche Post DHL Group’s automation projects in warehousing, freight and last-mile delivery services.
By 2025, the IoT could generate “up to €1.77 trillion in additional value for the international logistics industry,” said DHL Supply Chain’s chief information officer and chief operating officer Markus Voss. “Together with Huawei, we want to pursue this path in developing cellular-based IoT technology able to connect to multiple devices across long distances.”
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