Reducing Supply Chain Waste Through Advanced IIoT Tracking

May 14, 2020

While the Industrial IoT (IIoT) is so broad, so deep, so creative and so full of possibilities, we can get caught up in the all the technical moving parts – from the silicon and sensors, to the actuators and gateways, to edge compute, cloud compute, and all the networking in between.

The single most valuable aspect of IIoT can be captured in one word: data. Without the ability to capture, process, analyze, understand and to trigger actions from data, both by machines and humans, we are simply connecting things and not improving outcomes.

Many of the greatest category examples of the “ROI of IoT” are found in applications designed for “things in motion” – equipment, vehicles, parts, products, railcars, ships, and more. With increasingly global and complex manufacturing and distribution ecosystems, designed to produce better products at lower prices to drive competitive advantages and to support more profitable operations, there are efforts underway every single day to squeeze out as much friction and expense in the physical distribution of everything.

Real-Time, All the Time

This is an exciting time in the evolution of Industry 4.0, as the availability of sensor-based data on physical assets, as well as the capability to compute faster and contextualize machine data into usable data, is driving true end-to-end supply chain visibility. Finally, the costs are reasonable enough so the ROIs are faster, more sustainable and more impressive than ever before.

A huge part of this is the development of tracking systems with great granularity and advanced APIs which make sharing data as a “thing” moves from Point A to Point B.

Not only are we able to now track in real-time finished goods, but all the parts that go into manufacturing those goods – and before that, the management of early-stage proof-of-concept development. Product managers are able to track items at every single stage, from design to testbed, from parts and production, to mass production and go-to-market knowing where everything is needed to deliver the finished goods into the hands of businesses and consumers.

Runtime has become real-time optimized execution and excelling at this can drive billions of dollars in profit through more efficient supply chains.

The data arising from the connectivity of physical assets is the foundation of the IIoT,  but turning raw data into dramatic process improvements is challenging, especially as systems grapple with structured and unstructured data, an unprecedented volume of data, the creation and processing of data at the edge and in the cloud, and getting all that into a single, unified view while also securing it along the way.

IIoT technology to the rescue – finally developers of tracking and supply chain solutions can achieve the layer of visibility they have been able to imagine and begin to create, but unable to execute fully until now.  Today, complex global supply chains have the capability to connect with their products and processes to achieve new levels of supply chain visibility and drive new levels of profitability.

At ClearBlade, we are conquering the lag between data collection and action, working with our partners and customers and taking advantage of the increased sophistication of sensor technology, advanced mobile communications and array of networks designed for specific tracking solutions, and intelligent, automated analytic applications.

We have been able to reduce the time between data capture and decision making so that our customers can respond to changes in real-time.

The IIoT and innovation, programming and development is completely changing tracking systems and supply chains, retooling and instrumenting them in order to inject agility and responsiveness the likes of which we have never witnessed before. Massive real-time data captured by sensors represents the raw material for digital transformation, but without big data analytics, this raw material cannot be turned into automated and actionable insight.

Increasingly every industry, driven in large part by digital transformation, relies on increasingly complex, extended, and overlapping supply chains. Dynamic change due to increasing product complexity, greater customer demands, and the sale of products with related services has become the norm rather than the exception.

Any company – in any industry – needs to build a level of agility, risk tolerance, and resilience into the way they participate and track their assets in real-time. Our many clients in the transportation, shipping, rail, aviation, retail, smart city and other markets have been enthusiastic early adopters of our IIoT-based analytic applications and they are more competitive as a result. They are driving transformational improvements across their direct operations, and their integration with existing supply chains.

Beyond the Query and Into the World of Automated Runtime Tracking

Real-time operations are now completely possible when IIoT-enabled analytic applications for tracking harness and process sensor data to provide frontline operators and line managers visibility into the current state of a freight shipment, or handoffs of a container from a ship to a rail car in a large port.

Discovering a pattern or other leading indicator of change (for example leveraging weather data to analyze slow-downs or other risks) means operators can pay attention to signals that can impact timelines and adjust to partners and their end-customers.

In the transportation and logistics industries which have grown tremendously at ClearBlade over the last year,  we’ve seen the pivot: sensor-based technology has long been a part of these industries, but they have been lacking the ability to effectively capture the data relative to the movement of goods and convert that data into insights capable of driving dramatic improvements across the supply chain. While rail locomotives have been outfitted with GPS devices and other sensors that capture information such as location, speed, and idle time for years, they only have gone so far. With IoT sensors and analytics, this information can be leveraged to identify optimum departure times and far more accurately predict arrival times, while also reporting on the condition of the cargo in real-time, especially for time sensitive goods like produce, fish and meat..

The need for speed.

The challenges we are addressing, and the opportunities we are opening for our clients is faster and more transparent than ever, while driving more productivity and profitability.

Doing so at the high levels we are now seeing simply is not possible without leveraging new/emerging technologies. Benefits are being felt throughout the entire organization, from product and offer development to manufacturing, shipping, distribution, sales, marketing, finance and legal/compliance.

Beyond sensing, active tracking.

The true value in sensor based IIoT tracking solutions is the capability to capture real-time data, enabling analytics, insight, and action based on the best information available at the present time. This leads to unprecedented agility and value creation. We are seeing it happen every single day, and that inspires us to keep on trucking, and keep on tracking as the evidence continues to reveal investments generating exciting and sustainable improvements – and returns.

Originally posted by Eric Simone on LinkedIn Pulse

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