How To Leverage IoT To Improve Your Supply Chain Processes

This year Santa Clara Convection Center, you may have heard, hosted the largest mega conference, #iotw16, Internet of Things World 16.

The industry heads roster in itself comprised of more than 300 speakers representing organizations from an array of industries; industrials, manufacturing, automakers, who were in as much force as the software, public health and healthcare sectors.

One such session also covered the most topical issues impacting in the area of Supply Chain – and IoT – being the most disruptive and important force to the once nimble Supply Chain Strategy.


Opportunities For Smarter Supply Chains

Over the last 3 years, SCM World, which is a cross-industry learning community, backed by the world’s most influential supply chain practitioners has surveyed 1000s of supply chain executives on new technologies with potential to impact supply chain strategies.

It is to no surprise that one of the top three podium finishers – and rising in eminence each year – internet of things (IoT) has been considered the most prominent and disruptive by nearly two-thirds of the respondents, along with cloud and big data.

While the need of visibility has always been a key concern in supply chain, new technologies based on the Internet of Things, both upstream in manufacturing as well as downstream at the point of sale and beyond have the potential to radically embed itself in business, and society – faster than ever.

In fact, it has integrated the concept of smart manufacturing into the core of operations across the industries. It implies an environment where every piece of relevant information related to plant floor will be visible in real-time. This unit-level visibility will offer better insights for making well-informed decisions.

Supply chains at warehouse, logistic and retail level – will also be almost sentinel – able to feel, perceive and react to situation at an extraordinarily granular level.

Embedded Sensor Technologies

  • Sensing Nodes. The types of nodes that sense depend on the applications they are used for. For instance, sensing nodes could involve a camera system for image monitoring water or gas glow meters, radar vision when active safety is required; or RFID readers sensing the presence of an object or a person. This could also include a simple thermometer.
  • Embedded Processing Nodes. This is at the heart of IoT. Local processing capabilities are most often provided by MCUs/MPUs or integrated devices, which can provide real-time embedded processing that is a key o most IoT applications.

Wired/Wireless Communication Capabilities

The role of wired/communication nodes is to disseminate information gathered by the sensing nodes and processes by the embedded nodes to the destination identified by the local embedded processing nodes. Once the data is remotely processed, the node brings back new commands to the local embedded nodes to execute a task.

The New Frontier Of IoT Communication

When we look at manufacturers using sensors to monitor manufacturing equipment, we see nothing new. But, when we use the same sensors to talk to other equipment and automatically feed data into plan and energy management applications, is one where IoT displays new promise.

New opportunities arise with the use of advanced sensors, controls and software applications about what is happening on the plant floor.

By connecting people across all business functions and geographies there is potential adjustment to customer order delivery dates or by information-sharing IoT can also drive incremental benefits spanning asset utilization, warehouse space optimization or production planning.

For example, the manufacturers of heavy farming equipment can now develop their new line of products according to the requirements of farmers. The sensors on the equipment enable them to understand how the features of these products are catering to the needs of farmers. Here, IoT facilitates the production managers in monitoring the usage of product by the customers while the R&D managers get insights about their future course of production through this information.

All of these opportunities can lead to new changes in the supply chain process.


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