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Getting the Most Out of Your AI and IIoT Cloud Investments with “Real-Time Vision” in Your Supply Chain

3/25/2020

In supply chain management, clarity is everything. Business owners need to see all aspects of their organization. Emerging cloud-based technologies allow decision makers to have a real-time view of what’s happening at any place and any time in their supply chain.

According to Cloudleaf President and CEO Mahesh Veerina, the key to doing this is to integrate artificial intelligence and the Industrial Internet of Things into supply chains, turning them into data-powered strategic assets that give leaders an unparalleled view into their logistics.

Veerina recently sat down with BizTechReports‘s Editorial Director Lane Cooper to discuss how Cloudleaf is bringing that idea into existence across the globe.

“What we’re working on,” he said, “is the mission towards transforming supply chains using some of these digital technologies to make them strategic assets: data-powered strategic assets, for large corporations, medium corporations and engines of innovation for driving growth in their businesses.”

Supply Chains Past and Present

The difference between supply chains ten years ago versus today is the ability to look closely at the details and not isolate data into places where it can’t be used efficiently. Veerina told BizTechReports that traditional supply chains have mostly been built around transactional systems, such as ERP, WMS and TMS. Today’s businesses need to have more detailed and real-time information about their supply chain to maintain a competitive edge.

“In the old world you would put a digital log up,” he said, “and the material arrives after a lot of movement at the customer only to discover an infraction has happened. And now we have to process this material, apologize to the customers, start the production again.”

Veerina said he understands how those processes came to be and their relevance, but that it’s time to leave outdated systems in the past in order to stay on top of issues that constantly arise in an ever-changing world.

“Today’s world is littered with all these data silos and very hard to relate communication and collaboration across internal and external state quarters. In the digital world they’re looking for more real-time visibility into: ‘what’s happening, where is my stuff, what condition is it in, and when is it arriving?'”

The whole point of upgrading to a cloud-based system, said Veerina, is to guarantee auditor compliance or regulatory compliance, achieve sustainability, “really driving their profits, and eliminating waste and loss to the supply chain.”

Unifying Data-Collecting Resources

By combining systems like GPS and wireless networking with IIoT across supply chains, businesses can gather data needed to find out how to make both large and small improvements to their system.

Veerina used the example of one of Cloudleaf’s clients to show how integrating AI and IIoT into the supply chain results in a more efficient organization.

“We’re working with a pharma company that ships vaccines and insulin,” he said. “These are very temperature-sensitive materials. Every time a temperature infraction happens, it costs them millions and millions of dollars. Executives need to continuously know the conditions of their shipments throughout their journey in the supply chain.”

The ability to know everything that’s going on will soon be the defining factor for success in supply chain management, says Veerina, which is why Cloudleaf’s clients are ahead of the game.

“What’s happening is there’s already huge digital transformation initiatives going on at all these corporations,” he said. “And typically where they’re deploying these, they look at if they have a burning platform issue, whether it’s on their distribution side or in the sourcing side or within the factories. Where is the problem? Where can they get the most ROI and benefit for these issues?”

Implementing AI and IIoT into supply chains is an investment in the new standard. Those who don’t embrace cloud-based supply chain management within a few years will find it even more difficult to catch up to those who do.

“It is imperative that companies implement these digital technologies,” Veerina said. “I personally feel that we are at an inflection point of 18 to 24 months. Those who don’t embrace these technologies and capabilities during this inflection window will lose ground to their competition.”