Internet of Things (IoT) is billed to be the next big ticket technological churning influencing consumer specific processes as well as industrial operations. The general buzz is it will also radically change supply chain modules. Harry Lagad, VP (Global Sales), Smartron and a renowned supply chain expert explains how it will be a game changer in an exclusive conversation with Ritwik Sinha…
IoT, of course, has begun to emerge as the next critical wave. How much can it impact supply chain operations going ahead?
IOT ( Internet of Things ) is of-course, yet another buzz word for automation and machine to machine communication. In the good old days and even today, IOT has been present in many forms within Manufacturing and Supply Chains. The fact that suddenly people have started viewing Productivity through the use of newer technologies and softwares, hasn’t probably been understood in depth. Let me elaborate a bit. Most warehouses work today on Barcodes and RF hand held devices. The more larger and more sophisticated ones use RFID, Pick to Light, Automated Conveyors, weigh checks, label and other printing, packaging and including automated floor movements by Remote controlled pallet movers. Running in the background of these various semi automated processes are a host of IT systems that look at data, only churn what is needed for the operations and discard the rest of the data. IOT, in many ways, utilises every single bit of data and puts it through an Analyser centrifuge resulting in some clear patterns which allow much more higher level of decision making and automation. Currently, as we all know, everything, including the various mobility and computing platforms work on many and totally disconnected Operating Systems ( OS ). The future of IOT will be that there will be a single Operating System, which will allow your Apple devices to speak to Android or to Microsoft and your blue tooth lightbulbs to communicate via an OS to the Switch Controller or for that matter, your air-coniditioner etc. The more the level of sophistication the better the level of productivity. IOT is going to bring about very high level of decision making, automation and productivity improvements and its going to affect everyone from consumers to manufacturing and warehousing operations to even public transport, etc.
Do we have concrete proofs to suggest that global entities in the supply chain side have begun aligning with IoT applications to enhance their efficiency?
Of-course. Lets look at companies such as Johnson Controls, Scheinders, RDM UK etc. These companies and a host of other companies around the world are already working on industrial automation. Their global strategies are well aligned to take their current range of automation enabled devices and platforms to move towards seamless integration of data and dialogues within the industry, thus making supply chains and operations perform at a peak level. Work is currently on with many other OEM’s as well, where they are seeking to change to the future. One example is Woolworths in Australia, which has already made their Meat and Poultry business as well as some of their stores quite automated and having algorithm driven softwares helping make quicker and much more sensible faster and predictive decisions.
What about India where people are still talking of basic automation?
India has proven that it has the ability to leap frog technology. Take the example of Telecom. Classic example. From a situation of having limited mobility and one of the highest cost of owning a mobile phone, India has become the single largest market for mobility and the cost of devices and communication is the cheapest in the world. Simply because, India leap frogged the Telecom wave. Ofcourse, the main question comes on the Capex side and Indian companies always are averse to heavy capex based solutions, simply because the cost of labour has been quite cheaper. However, in today’s world, where Productivity is the single most factor of business profitability, many indian companies are now turning towards newer and better technologies, much more sophisticated automation in the industrial side and willing to commit to newer ways of doing business, as the younger generation is now keenly looking at global opportunities, rather than local ones.
Smartron, as I understand, will be offering solutions on enterprise side as well. Will you have any specific offering for the supplychain industry?
Smartron has two separate wings of IOT solutions development. The Industrial IOT side has already started and a team is in place, working on both hardware and software to start putting IOT into the Industrial and Supply Chain sector. Smartron sees a huge opportunity in the transport sector and is keenly developing solutions around the same.