The Internet of Things (IoT) in the context of the supply chain

The Internet of Things (IoT) in the context of the supply chain consists of a series of sensors capturing location, temperature, humidity, light (cargo door opening) and other data. Here too there are some recommended ways to leverage these it. They can help an organization:

  • Uncover roadblocks in its supply chain by gaining visibility into operations, processes and schedules.
  • Improve customer expectations with real-time shipment updates.
  • Analyze data continuously and linking it to its key performance indicator metrics can lead to meaningful feedback to transportation intermediaries and carriers.
  • Integrate information to optimize routes and consolidate cargo.
  • Ensure product quality using temperature and humidity monitoring of perishables to reduce spoilage.
  • Monitor and track goods accurately in real time to assist, among other things, inventory control issues such as shelf life.
  • Minimize cargo theft or, at least, enable rapid recovery of stolen goods via tracking of conveyances or goods themselves.
  • Reach its sustainability goals by, among other things, scheduling container or trailer arrival times so reduce idling in terminals or yards.

There are a whole host of telematics, GPS and ELD (Electronic Logging Devices) that when linked can improve logistics processes and protect supply chain integrity. Companies like Overhaul, Parsyl, Riskpulse and others that are carving out niches in this space.

Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements

The National (U.S.) Transportation safety Board released its 2019-2020 “Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. The Top 10 items are as follows:

  • Eliminate distractions
  • End alcohol and drug impairment
  • Ensure the safe shipment of hazardous materials
  • Fully implement positive train control
  • Implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce speed-related crashes
  • Improve the safety of Part 135 Aircraft Flight Operations
  • Increase implementation of Collision Avoidance Systems in vehicles
  • Reduce fatigue related accidents
  • Require medical fitness- Scree for and treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Strengthen occupant protection

There are also a number of specific safety recommendations that NTSB would like put into place over the next 2 years.

Many of the areas of improvements are not directly solely to the commercial/cargo transportation. The Most Wanted List and the associated recommendations can be downloaded at:


In a move that may well portend the future of the food safety, Walmart a company you may have heard of has begun using Blockchain to track and guarantee the origins and safety of food products across its global supply chain.

The first batch of 23 products lines went live on the company’s China Traceability Platform. By the end of next year meat, vegetables and seafood included in the system will account for a substantial percentage of total sales. Walmart also intends to add 10 more product categories in 2019.

By scanning the product, customers will be able to acquire detailed information including the source, geographic location, logistics process, product inspection report and other data points.

Provenance and supply chain integrity are becoming increasingly important issues globally as is overall food safety and quality management. Obviously not many organizations have Walmart’s breadth and scope, but it appears likely that its suppliers will have to buy into this initiative.

FSMA Rollout

In the United States, the fairly recent Food Safety Modernization Act rollout has allowed the Food & Drug Administration to expand its regulatory focus from responding to food contamination to preventing it. In the just released “FDA Strategy for the Safety of Imported Food’ the new goals for imported food safety are:

  • Preventing food safety problem in the foreign supply chain prior to U.S. entry
  • Detecting and refusing entry of unsafe food at the borders
  • Responding quickly when the agency learns of unsafe food imports
  • Measuring their progress to ensure that its food safety program remains

You can read the entire document at:

Mis-declare containers

The National Cargo Bureau (NCB), in conjunction with CINS (Cargo Incident Notification System) member ocean carriers inspected 500 container shipments as part of an initiative around fires on containerships felt to be caused by shippers not identifying cargo as hazardous materials or Dangerous Goods. Of these, 55% failed with one or more deficiencies; 49% of the import containers with Dangerous Goods failed and 38% with export DG also having issues.

The main problem concerned the proper securement of goods inside the container followed by improper placarding and mis-declared cargo. Many of the inbound containers originated in the Far East while others came from South America.

The results speak for themselves; it is worth noting that NCB inspects over 30,000 containers per year and in 2018 they only failed 7.4 percent.

Mis-declared cargo persists remaining a troubling aspect of maritime shipping. There is some work being done to devise a screening tool (looking at documentation errors or anomalies) as well as some ocean carriers establishing penalties for non-compliance so only time will tell if either or both are effective. This problem seems to rise to the top after a serious vessel casualty but tends to fade away in between untoward events.

The information for much of the content was taken from a number of public sources that, to the best of the undersigned’s knowledge, is accurate. The views expressed in this document should be regarded as the personal opinion of the undersigned and not necessarily of the Chubb.

If anyone wants additional information on any of the topics covered contact the authors.