1. Supply Chain Management: It’s IoT Time

    Supply Chain Management: It’s IoT Time

    This story looks at several ways in which companies are applying Internet of Things (IoT) technology to supply chain management.

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    1. Over time, the fast movers rise to the top of the system, and the slow moving products sink to the bottom.
    2. Before AutoStore, if I wanted to reorganize the warehouse physically, I had to spend months, and lots of manpower, to bring products up front into the optimum position.
    3. That provides immense benefit by letting us know which items are selling and which are not.
    4. The robots know when they need a charge, and then they move off to be charged on their own.
    5. We also have the ability to monitor the status of the robots remotely.
    6. It's the interaction between the sensors, the server, and other servers that bring the whole Internet of Things to bear.
    7. It gets exciting when that data is accumulated and can either trigger actions, predict actions, or prevent consequences.
    8. The system provides amalgamated statistics over one month, one year, or multiple years, which tells you quickly, for example, that your peak was 50 trucks, your average was 30, and your minimum was 15.
    9. With B2W, for instance, we designed an optimization that would help them redesign their urban distribution network.
    10. For instance, they underestimate the detours that vehicles have to make in a city's most congested and dense areas.
    11. When they plan their logistics operations, most people work with average value assumptions.
    12. Almost everyone today has a smart phone.
    13. The distribution center is expecting the drivers, and because they have checked in on the app, DC workers see their ETA.
    14. When the material handling truck picks up a group of appliances, a reader mounted on the truck reads the tag on each unit.
    15. If an operator picks up an appliance and moves it more than 5 centimeters from the location where it's supposed to be, they'll immediately get an alert on the tablet device mounted to the material handling equipment.
    16. I know exactly where every product is within the confines of my building, so I shouldn't have to do cycle counts or a physical inventory regularly.
    17. We're able to track that inventory at a granular level—how often it's coming and going, even how many times it's moving in and out of the maintenance shop, to get an idea of how often we maintain that piece of equipment.
    18. The students are developing a sensor-based solution that would display red, yellow or green and a timer clock.
    19. But we're working with them to track actual consumption and move to a consumption-based replenishment model.
    20. If you abstract that into the business-to-business world, any consumable items that can be tracked and measured in a device could be replenished.
    21. Five or 10 years ago, for large consumer products companies, the Holy Grail was increased point-of-sale data, gaining visibility into what retailers were selling to consumers, and using that to enhance replenishment.
    22. You can drill down into Mr. Smith's coffee machine at 240 Acacia Avenue and see exactly what he has been doing.
    23. We provided real-time replenishment by identifying when inventory falls below a certain threshold.
    24. If people have to search too long, they might not return.
    25. You're getting low; we need to replenish.