When it comes to building out digital supply chains, two major constituencies are trying to leverage their historic strengths. The first is traditional ERP application providers that view digital supply chains as a natural extension of their existing franchise. The second are providers of operational systems that are leveraging the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) to disrupt the way supply chains are built and managed.
One of the vendors that has emerged as a force in the latter category is Honeywell, which has developed a cloud-based track and trace application that can be used to authenticate and track individual components used in a manufacturing process.
Usha Iyer, vice president of marketing for Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions, says the applications are being tailored for individual vertical markets and run on a Honeywell Movilizer cloud platform. The latest vertical market Honeywell is now addressing is automotive, which as an industry is trying to leverage IoT and analytics to combat a long-standing problem with counterfeit parts.
Iyer says that the rise of the IoT creates an opportunity for Honeywell to expand its expertise building operational systems into the realm of digital supply chains, especially given the security concerns most manufacturers have. Honeywell can leverage existing operational system relationships to build out an IoT framework that aggregates all the data needed to run a Big Data analytics application in the cloud, says Iyer. Rivals, she contends, simply don’t have the operational expertise.
“Big Data applications need to be IoT enabled,” says Iyer.
Iyer concedes that building a digital supply chain requires organizations to overcome a myriad of technical and cultural challenges, which is why she says most of these projects are either lead by a chief operating officer (COO) or compliance officer. In fact, as regulations around the globe are becoming more stringent in terms of requiring organizations to be able to identify where any part or ingredient may have originated from, compliance officers are becoming more involved in the supply chain, notes Iyer.
Longer term, Iyer says Honeywell also sees a role for blockchain technologies to prevent fraud in digital supply chains once those technologies mature. But in the meantime, most of the focus today is on establishing the links between IoT sensors and gateways and the predictive cloud analytics applications they ultimately inform.