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Application fields and relevance of mobile communications in the logistics industry

In the past decades, mobile communications have become increasingly important not only in the private sector, but also in industry. Mobile applications allow for the data collection, digitization and automation of processes. One of the sectors that draws a particularly strong benefit from these changes is the logistics industry. Whether on the road or in internal logistics processes, such as warehousing or goods tracking, mobile technology has already become indispensable for many applications. It opens up new opportunities and creates new business models, which ensure higher efficiency, speed and climate neutrality. In the following article, we clarify in which logistics areas mobile communications are used and why 5G is one of the key technologies for digitization in logistics.

Digitization is changing more and more areas of our lives. One of the sectors particularly influenced by the changes is the logistics sector. Wireless data transmission technologies and mobile communications have been used in countless logistics applications for some time now. Whether on the road or in internal logistics processes, such as warehousing or goods tracking, mobile technology has already become indispensable for many applications. The new 5G technology, with its high bandwidths and reduced latency times, continues to strengthen the trend toward digitization in the logistics sector. It opens up new opportunities and creates new business models, which ensure higher efficiency, speed and climate neutrality. In the following article, we clarify in which logistics areas mobile communications are used and why 5G is one of the key technologies for digitization in logistics.

5G as driver and key technology for digitization in the logistics sector

The new mobile communications standard is virtually predestined for logistics. The storage, distribution, transportation and handling of goods requires a flexible, location-independent exchange of information. The goods should arrived at the target destination without delays or damage. Supply chains networked via mobile communications allow for the recording and tracking of the current location or condition of the goods, at any given time. The 2G (EDGE), 3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE) mobile technologies, previously used for networking, became increasingly powerful, but the network capacities, bandwidths and response times that could be realized represented limiting factors for the digitization process.

The combination of speed, network capacity and data rates allows 5G to set new standards. For the first time, the exchange of huge amounts of data in real time becomes possible. The outstanding features of the new mobile communications generation include latency times in a range of only one millisecond, bandwidths in the gigabit range, low error rates, high network availability and the support for networking a huge number of end devices. In this way, mobile battery-powered sensors with a low computing power can be networked at any location, such as basements or warehouses, exactly as smart stationary end devices with high bandwidth requirements. 5G offers various profiles for diverse applications. The Ultra Reliable and Low Latency Communications profile (uRLLC) is intended for time-critical applications with high demands of low latency times and a reliable communication such as autonomous driving. Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC) is suitable for the energy-efficient networking of a high number of devices per unit area, such as in a warehouse, while the palettes or goods are equipped with sensors.

Applications on the road and other traffic routes

For applications on the road or other traffic routes, such as rail or shipping, there are countless application possibilities. Customers, logistics providers and vehicles such as trucks can be networked with each other. This helps to record the current traffic volume, find the best routes, optimize the utilization of trucks and save time or fuel. There is a constant exchange of current locations, availabilities, traffic situations, delivery times and deadlines.

Another typical field of application for mobile communications is the food logistics sector. When it comes to the transportation of food, often it is necessary to ensure that cold chains will not be interrupted. With mobile networked sensors, current freight temperatures can be collected and recorded at any time and place.

With 5G, the dream of autonomous driving could also become a reality in the near future. Today, more and more assistance systems support drivers already. The role of the driver is changing from the active control of the vehicles to their supervision. Ultimately, this leads to the fully autonomous, driverless transport vehicle that is networked with other vehicles and the traffic infrastructure. Thanks to autonomous driving, the restrictions related to driving and resting times for drivers would be eliminated and the transportation-related productivity would increase.

Further applications of mobile technology in the transportation sector include, among others:

  • container tracking on the various transport routes and at the handling gateways
  • the digital transmission of information for a faster customs clearance
  • the demand-based maintenance for the vehicle fleet on the basis of current sensor data on the vehicle status

Mobile technologies for internal logistics applications

By now, the mobile technology has become indispensable, not only for logistics processes on the road, but also for internal logistics applications such as warehouse management, goods tracking and supply chain management. 5G provides mobile networking and the Internet of Things (IoT) with an additional boost. In principle, almost everything can be equipped with sensors and networked with each other in the future. For example, sensors collect the exact position of palettes and deliver important additional data at the same time. In a smart factory, the entire supply chain can be tracked and controlled in real time. Autonomous robots deliver the required parts from the warehouse directly to the production facilities. At the same time, thanks to the transmission of the picked or used goods, the stock is up-to-date at all times.


Low-cost trackers, networked via mobile technologies such as NarrowBand IoT, play an important role in these logistics processes. They register and report accelerations, vibrations, temperatures, humidity values, or the situation of the goods and help to increase the quality in the logistics and production processes. Sensors recognize fallen and damaged goods, or goods that are no longer usable due to excessive storage temperatures for example, and report them to a central control software. This removes defective stock from circulation and provides replacements automatically. NarrowBand IoT requires only little energy, works virtually everywhere thanks to the good building penetrations (even in basements or in buildings that are unfavorable for conventional mobile communications), offering high reliability and security.

Are you planning to install new devices for mobile communications (2G/3G/4G/5G/LoRaWAN, wM-BUS/LTE-M/NB-IoT) or want to upgrade your existing infrastructure to the new standards? Our mobile network testers can be of help! Feel free to visit our online shop, write us an e-mail in case of further questions, or call us at +49 40 35 73 20 65!