The number of devices throughout a warehouse that can now connect to centralized ERP or warehouse management systems is growing all the time, from stationary sensors to wearable tech. That gives logistics firms plenty of ways they can leverage a wealth of information to improve various aspects of their operations, from efficiency in the supply chain to simply keeping workers safe, all with real-time and holistic data collection and dissemination.

Some of the biggest companies in the logistics industry have become pioneers in finding new ways to leverage IoT devices into new ways of improving their operations, according to Biz Community. For instance, the global shipping firm DHL recently launched an effort in some of its foreign facilities to give employees real-time visual data about the entire warehouse floor, thanks to scanners placed throughout these buildings, as well as on equipment, to help them find the best routes to packages they need to pick and ship.

Going beyond current operations
Of course, many warehouses use some sort of IoT technology already, and there are some who have done so for years, according to Logistics Viewpoints. However, the benefit the IoT provides is that because it has so many uses – and allows companies to collect an ever-growing amount of new types of data – it makes everything a company does more interconnected. That kind of capability can, in turn, give companies an overarching look at the entire supply chain, including the areas where new materials or products are brought in and shipped out again.

The more that can be done to ensure yard management IoT is implemented, the better off companies will be when it comes to getting a more complete picture of how their entire supply chain works, the report said. There may be plenty of ways to do this, including the use of more connected remote sensors, and perhaps even drones in some cases, but it may also include encouraging or incentivizing carrier companies to come into the firm's IoT ecosystem.

Investment continues to grow
Because of how many options the IoT provides to logistics companies and those in other fields, it should come as no surprise that more businesses are devoting at least some of their investment budgets toward buying these types of devices. This year alone, it's expected that companies will invest more than $800 billion in IoT devices and infrastructure, up 16.7 percent from last year. And by 2021, that global spending number will rise to $1.4 trillion, according to the International Data Corporation.

"The discussion about IoT has shifted away from the number of devices connected," said Carrie MacGillivray, vice president of IoT and mobility at IDC. "The true value of IoT is being realized when the software and services come together to enable the capture, interpretation, and action on data produced by IoT endpoints."

With this in mind, any logistics firms that may currently be on the fence about IoT investment would be wise to start examining their options more thoroughly so they don't get left behind in an increasingly connected industry.