Evolving Digitalization in Supply Chains

Evolving Digitalization in Supply Chains Via E2E Cellular IoT (C-IOT)

16 Feb 2019

Digitalization of supply chain via ICT technology, management, security and more are of expanding interest to all businesses. In a greater sense, the connection of E2E or everything to everything brings ROI innovation to enterprise-to-enterprise connections. From a small retailer who wants less in-store inventory to delivering custom products on-demand to complex automotive, airplane and military projects with millions of parts having a global view of the supply chain provides greater business success. 

That is, anything that moves needs to be connected, managed, protected, cataloged and more. While the upside can make the process more complex, on the darkside product recalls whether it be a car part or favorite vegetable item can bring catastrophic devastation. Millions of pounds of products destroyed, coupled with human illness and death, along with the onslaught of class action suits is worthy of being addressed by every business in the supply chain. Just adding technology is not the solution, integration of technology in every aspect of the product lifecycle is the solution. Solutions for stopping even one product failure, saving one illness or worse and importantly improve the lives of customers and reduce the negative impact on the business involved are available now. One leading example is Ericsson’s evolution concept that describes how cellular IoT can move from the more basic use cases of Massive IoT (such as asset tracking and smart metering) to increasingly sophisticated use cases enabled by Broadband IoT (for example infotainment in cars, AR/VR, drones and advanced wearables), and then by Critical IoTT (for example, autonomous vehicles), and Industrial Automation IoT (for example, collaborative robotics in manufacturing). This means that integration of IoT-internet of things with cellular technology can bring real ROI for every link in the supply chain.

Cellular IoT Connect E2E


In my own analysis of “things” I look at it this way, there are four key ways we communicate with each other and four ways we communicate with machines and things around us. That is with machines and things, there is: 

  • Person-to-person (via technology), 
  • Person-to-machine (advise system status –empty?) ,
  • Machine-to-Person (alarm - alert-send map – I am full, come fix me), and
  • Machine-to-Machine (Initiate upgrade – here’s the fix and can you fix the problem with the interface machine)
     

Cellular IoT evolution and segments

 

Each of these concepts represents unique ways technology and, in this case, adding in cellular technology can benefit the entire process. In regard to person-to-person, we cannot live without our cell phones. Adding C-IOT can help track fleets, public safety, healthcare and other mobile workers to optimize their performance and personal protection. For person-to-machine, we interact on a growing basis to retrieve our outstanding bank or vendor balances, weather or a myriad of other interactions. There is also a growing use case for machines to let you know that someone rang your door bell. However, only by looking behind the scenes we see rapidly growing use of industrial applications for machines talking to other machines. In regard to machine-to-machine (M2M), automating machine repair represents a vast opportunity to predict maintenance need, perform Over-the Air software updates, patches and self or remote repairment can significantly increase uptime, minimize downtime and reduce unnecessary truck rolls. At this point, we could explore how drones fit into the distribution mix or provide critical oversight for security check or fire control. We could explore another area of concern such as fleet management. We could also see how C-IOT is integrated with back office management.  

For example, with the rise of more and more home/business delivery of everything we need to think through how all these delivery vehicles are interacting with the other traffic on the highway. Building highways is increasingly expensive, however integrating cellular IoT or C-IOT into the highways as they are built or rebuilt, cities, states and those responsible for them can explore ways to better manage and optimize E2E-enterprise-to-enterprise transport. In other words, fleets would be optimized both by delivery route and delivery schedule much like the way airplanes are managed today by air traffic controllers managing the skies. This reduces congestion, re-routes if delays due to accidents, weather or construction and strives to minimize time and fuel. By integrating C-IOT all aspects of management strategy can really begin to see a seamless supply chain.

Whether person or thing, if it moves, explore how cellular IoT can change the way it works, benefits society and bring out better protection of the environment. This is a lofty goal but one that is worthy of our immediate attention because it brings about a better world to live in now and long into the future. 

I would like to thank Ericsson for letting me share some thoughts with you.

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