Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT is not a very new concept in the SCM circles as the aerospace & defence (A&D) industry had adopted the technology for comprehensive end-to-end supply chain process, where aircrafts have thousands of sensors and data is leveraged in the extended supply chain. The adoption in other industries has been quite low till now. Manufacturing industries have found potentially impactful supply chain use cases in preventative maintenance, sourcing, manufacturing, logistics, demand management and services. The specific areas include improved asset utilisation, higher uptime through remote monitoring and maintenance, improved customer service by better understanding of customer behaviour and needs, and proactively responding to and shaping customer demand.
The IoT is set to revolutionise the supply chain with both operational efficiencies and revenue opportunities. In today’s market, supply chain is a way to gain competitive edge in a global scale.
Some of the key benefits of IoT include:
- Asset Tracking – from floor to store
- Vendor Management – as, up to 65% of the value of a company’s products or services is derived from its suppliers
- Forecasting and Inventory – in real time and linked to manufacturing schedules seamlessly
- Connected Fleets – for highly efficient transportation in a global supply chain scenario
- Scheduled Maintenance – to gain massive advantage in capacity utilisation
Current supply chain use cases for intelligent things — such as autonomous mobile robots and autonomous vehicles — are mainly targeted at defined scenarios and controlled environments, such as in warehouses. Intelligent things will make their initial business impact across a wide spectrum of asset-centric, product-centric and service-centric industries. As a result, the ability for organisations to assist, replace or redeploy their human workers in more value-adding activities will potentially create high, even transformational, business benefits.
Intelligent things is a term for everyday objects that incorporate autonomous technology. In other words, intelligent things can respond to real world conditions automatically. The following are some possible examples.
Infrastructure: Self-replicating solar panels that automatically repair and regenerate as required to cover a surface such as the exterior of a building.
Transportation: Bicycle lanes that automatically size for traffic patterns. For example, if there are 100 bicyclists traveling north and 10 bicyclists traveling south the lanes will flex to be wider going north to allow for passing.
Home Automation: A secured door that automatically opens when you arrive home based on factors such as your face, manner of walking and an electronic card in your pocket.
Architecture: A building that prepares itself for an earthquake seconds before it arrives. For example, smart windows that go into a safety mode to prevent shattering.
Farms: A farming robot that responds to the health of each individual plant. For example, if a particular radish plant looks like it is wilting, the robot may decide to give the plant more water.
Sustainability: A swarm of robotic submarines that clean up ocean plastic without interfering with navigation or ocean ecosystems.
Travel: Luggage that follows you around without bumping into people.
Security: A vehicle, aircraft, machine or tool that refuses commands likely to result in injury to life.
“Supply chain leaders must assess their company’s risk culture to determine their readiness to explore and adopt emerging offerings,” advises Christian Titze, research director at Gartner. “If in doubt, consider piloting small projects to determine whether the potential benefit of the technology trend is worth the risk and required investment in new skills, capabilities and services.”