M2M Technology for Logistics Applications

Written by Edmund Pey, DLSM

by Edmund Pey, DLSM

In the early 2010s, machine-to-machine innovation, or M2M technology, has matured with the advancement of communications, such as RFID, Wi-Fi, and cellular network. Sensors could be deployed to allow communications between different mechanization parts to support operations decisions.

The advancement and integration of communications and machines facilitate M2M system to gain better control over hardware operations and allow for intelligent operations decision-making. The automation of massive data collection and exchange, also greatly improves situation awareness and facilitates the development of operational strategies. The diagram below illustrates the potential applications that could benefit from the use of M2M technology.

M2M Application for Logistics

The logistics industry has greatly benefited from the M2M technology, as tracking and monitoring of mobile assets and fleet management has become a possibility with the availability of a wide range of connectivity options from satellite and cellular networks, including Satellite Messaging.

Global logistics
Image taken from: https://sipmm.edu.sg/technologies-global-logistics-services/
Transform digital logistics
Image taken from: https://www.iotm2mcouncil.org/iot-library/news/smart-logistics-news/hitachi-and-microsoft-to-transform-digital-logistics

Key Advantages for M2M Application

  • Increase manufacturing productivity:

With better visualisation and analysis of demand or consumption patterns, manufacturing supply could be adjusted and goods distribution flow could be optimised to better meet demand.

  • Optimise logistics with data analytics:

With the availability of digital technologies such as sensors on transport fleet, network routing engines and delivery optimisation service on digital maps e.g. Google map, smart routing and fleet distribution could take into consideration the fleet capacity, storage and delivery locations, traffic and road conditions, to greatly reduce manpower and transport costs and improve efficiency.

M2M Application for Utilities

Keeping utilities (power, water and gas) costs down are a priority to both the home user as well as the business consumer. With the exponential rise in utility demands globally, utility distribution is not just an expense, but a sustainability issue. An intelligent utilities distribution network provides solutions to enable the automated interaction amongst devices to respond to critical events or motorise utilities flow in the system to meet a sudden spike in demand, improve efficiency and reliability in utility distribution, optimize manpower and energy resources, and asset maintainability.Smart Metering Readers (AMR) is an innovative digital utility meter that records real-time utility consumption for power, water or gas, to facilitate analysis of consumption patterns. This would also help provide a more reliable and sustainable supply monitoring.Solar and Wind renewable energy engineers use sensors and M2M technology to assess and monitor energy production levels, analyse them against energy consumption patterns, to reduce the dependency of other sources to augment energy demands.Oil, Gas and Petroleum engineers could centrally monitor and access their remote sites, through the implementation of remote sensors, controllers, and instrumentation at pipelines and wellheads.

Smart home ecosystem
Image taken from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140922120509-194646369-m2m-utilities-an-energy-efficient-smart-home-ecosystem/
M2M architecture
Image taken from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Home-M2M-sensor-network-architecture_fig7_258384114
Future internet
Image taken from: https://www.mdpi.com/futureinternet/futureinternet-06-00261/article_deploy/html/images/futureinternet-06-00261-g002.png

M2M Application for Automotive

Embedded GPS receiver provides the location of the fleet vehicles, and road construction trucks and trailers vehicles and transmit this information through the cellular network via eSIM to a central monitoring system. Some trucks are also embedded with Wi-Fi sensors to transmit data at truck stops or other available Wi-Fi hot spots. Besides locating the vehicles, sensors are also used to track the speed, usage, and other critical factors, such as refrigerated truck temperatures, humidifier level and driver hours alerts.

Coupled with the maturity of M2M technology augmented with LiDAR technology, 5G technology, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology, vehicles could make automated and intelligent navigational decisions, which facilitates the development of autonomous or driverless vehicles. With its maturity, this would be a transformational change to the logistics and service industry.

Network simulator
Image taken from: https://www.mwee.com/news/connected-car-demo-diagnostics-m2m-communication-lte-network-simulator

M2M Application for Security

Cameras no longer need to be permanently fixed to a wall due to the availability of traverse visual data from gadgets like mobile phones and tablets. Given the opportunity to move the camera to any angle or position you require whilst maintaining the ability to access live-visual data. With this solution can be taken likes of traffic agencies by mounting CCTV cameras to a vehicle. Real-time visual and capture data can be received of any location or angle you could ever need. This technology improves fleet security and protection, as it records (and still have proof of who’s liable) without recording every second while the driver is in the vehicle. This reduces the cost of unnecessary data storage by having to store hours of footage, instead, it will only keep clips you need.

Image taken from: http://www.kingpak.com.tw/data/meeting/file/1531467485400305565.pdf

M2M Application for Remote Monitoring

Remote asset monitoring and management are possible when data related to assets could be remotely streamed over the network and internet cloud. This will also facilitate providence of integrated monitoring and management services 24/7/365 from anywhere around the world thru VPN connection. The main advantage is that it reduces downtime and improve business process, thus providing greater efficiency and higher revenues return. Additionally, managing assets in real-time provide a competitive advantage for the company.

Image taken from https://www.instrumentation.co.za/59107n

M2M Application for Robotics

Robots are more effective than humans when carrying out tasks that are hazardous to human health, repetitive tasks, that require high precision or are too laborious. While robotics technology has been available in the market, the adoption rate was slow then, due to concern of high setup costs, maintenance and upgrading costs. There is also fear of accidental damage or lost, e.g. robots were locked away until they are specifically requested or worried about being stolen or broken.

Robots can be designed to handle different loads, including 100kg, 500kg, or 1500kg. The size of robots could be customised to meet different needs, and perform different functions. E.g. Amazon designs different robotics programmed to collect data handling inventory collection or picking items, that can work alongside each other, as they share the same platform.Humans who use robotics assistant support were found to have a lower risk of injuries. E.g. Ultrasonic sensors on vehicles facilities automotive placement of parking. LiDAR and Radar sensors help generates a three-dimensional image of an object using reflections from laser rays. It supports detection and avoidance obstacles during navigation.

Effective warehousing
Image taken from: https://sipmm.edu.sg/autonomous-mobile-robotics-effective-warehousing

M2M Application for 3D Printing

3D printer robotic welding arm attached to an assembly line can print customised 3D parts. This revolutionises the manufacturing industry, as parts could be printed on demand. The technology utilizes an electric arc for its heat source and steel wire as feedstock. Additive manufacturing system can produce large metal parts at a cheaper cost, and at a faster rate as compared to other manufacturing systems.

3d pirnters
Image taken from: https://blog.grabcad.com/blog/2019/02/26/sending-3d-printed-parts-and-3d-printers-into-orbit/


Advancement direction of the machine to machine (M2M) is the technology that needs communication between devices and platforms using wireless and wired communications channel. Companies accomplished by having steps to get leading of time allowing a remote network of machines relay information back to a central hub tracking monitoring and analysis in real-time. Minimise human mistake by using automation for eliminating manual labour. But automation is at a higher cost with the control that something can work towards archiving accuracy outcome. Enhances humans increasing the productivity by accomplishing routine tasks in lesser cycle time, without the interference of human labour compound.

Supply Chain Ads

Metal 3D printing Video


Abi Teh Ching Yee, ADLSM. (2019). “Autonomous Devices for Digital Warehousing”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/autonomous-devices-for-digital-warehousing, accessed 22/06/2019.

Alex Lim Tze How, DLSM. (2020). “Technologies for Global Logistics Services”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/technologies-global-logistics-services/, accessed 29/06/2020.

Ee Soon Sern, DLSM. (2018). “Autonomous Mobile Robotics for Effective Warehousing”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/autonomous-mobile-robotics-effective-warehousing, accessed 15/03/2020.

Malvina Ong Moy Geem, ADLSM. (2019). “Digital Technologies for Fleet Visibility and Responsiveness”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/digital-technologies-fleet-visibility-responsiveness/, accessed 29/06/2020.

Surendran, DLSM. (2018). “Adopting New Technologies for Effective Warehousing”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/adopting-new-technologies-effective-warehousing, accessed 11/9/2018.

About the Author: Edmund Pey has substantive years of experience in the field of engineering and logistics management, specifically in the areas of inbound and outbound warehousing as well as the specialised area of chemical waste disposal. He holds the Diploma in Information Technology and is a member of the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM). Edmund completed Diploma in Logistics and Supply Management (DLSM) on December 2020 at SIPMM Institute.