Efficiency Gains Linked to Real-Time Impact Monitoring


When Intel launched the digital transformation of its operations, it included IoT sensors to help monitor its supply chain. By feeding data from those sensors into artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, Intel’s engineers identified 50 percent more issues (at half the cost), expanded its testing coverage 200-fold and cut debug duplication by 50 percent. By 2020, Intel expects a 20 percent increase in efficiency and quality in its product validation process.

Intel is among the leading companies using real-time information to achieve dramatic improvements throughout its operations. According to a recent PwC report, the most forward-thinking supply chain managers say risk management is very important because it helps them increase visibility and predictability throughout their supply chains. Yet, according to KPMG, 56 percent of supply chain executives lack access to real-time reporting and 13 percent lack end-to-end supply chain visibility.

Take the First Step
The first step to gaining the kind of visibility needed on today’s supply chain is simply to add real-time impact monitors to every shipment. These monitors, typically bolted onto shipping crates, provide relevant data and alert users to impacts as they occur. They also contribute to a more transparent process, enabling those involved to pinpoint undesirable shipping conditions and take immediate action.

Receive Actionable Information
If an impact event occurs, the shipper will immediately see a report detailing the magnitude of the impact and the direction from which it came. For example, SpotSee’s SpotBot Cellular features tri-axial measurements of impacts between 1 and 200 Gs of force and tracks temperatures between -40 degrees Fahrenheit and 185 degrees Fahrenheit. When an impact or temperature excursion occurs, alerts can be sent anywhere there’s cellular or, for some products, satellite coverage. With this information, the likelihood of damage can be determined and the shipper can decide whether immediate action is required (like halting or diverting transit), or whether assessment should wait until the shipment reaches the next freight terminal, port or city.

This means, for example, that a transformer could be diverted for inspection before it’s delivered – and possibly installed – at a remote site where repairs are harder to perform. Alternatively, it alerts manufacturers to potential, sometimes hidden, damage in components. Using this knowledge, shippers can prioritize inspections, focusing on components that experienced potentially damaging conditions, such as being dropped by cranes, jolted by forklifts, being disconnected from freight tie-downs or pummeled by other cargo during shipment.

With real-time impact information, shippers can:

  • Identify and mitigate risks
  • Shorten response times
  • Reroute subsequent shipments around problem areas
  • Reduce the risk of shipping delays
  • Improve inventory control
  • Enhance customers’ trust
  • Improve the perception of quality
  • Assign responsibility for damages

Beyond immediate intervention, real-time impact monitoring provides end-to-end visibility throughout the supply chain. It supports comprehensive, data-based insights into carriers, lanes, routes and packaging, to help managers identify the root of problems.

For example, one automotive manufacturer experienced a high rate of damage to instrument panels. Real-time impact monitoring helped them determine not only that they were falling off the racks during shipping between facilities, but why they were falling. As a result, shippers were able to reeducate drivers and improve their shipping processes to prevent the damage.

On the other hand, impact monitors can also show that no damage has been done and no problems have arisen. This benefits the company by enhancing customers’ perceptions of product quality and helping ensure products are undamaged upon delivery.

Toward a Digital Ecosystem
Real-time impact monitoring is a foundational element of a digital ecosystem (dubbed Industry 4.0) that is already benefiting multiple industries.  

For example, the aerospace, automotive, electronics and medical equipment industries rely on real-time updates to prevent damage from going unrealized for months or years. Construction and energy exploration equipment, as well as transformer and turbine manufacturers, use monitors to alert shippers to the possibility of damage in transit, before equipment reaches remote field locations where repairs are more challenging and costly. Even furniture, window and glass door manufacturers rely on real-time data to determine when and where damage occurs as their products move across the world.

Manufacturers that use real-time impact monitors as part of a comprehensive digital strategy say gains are notable. PwC data indicates companies can expect efficiency to increase by about four percent and revenues by nearly three percent as the direct result of comprehensive visibility into the supply chain. To achieve such gains, deploying real-time impact monitors on every shipment is the first step.

About the author: Angela Kerr has been part of the SpotSee team for over 12 years, having served as a marketing manager, product manager, director of product management and vice president. Currently serving as the vice president of product portfolio and program management, she is responsible for coordinating and managing resources for connected product launches, developing distributor programs and defining market opportunities for new product development.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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