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The supply chain contains many elements that can affect the delivery, movement and final assembly of product. Now, with the birth of the Internet of Things, manufacturers can engage in critical decision-making and tracking all the way to destination, says Mesrobian.
What’s new is the absence of humans from the loop. The Internet of Things allows machines to monitor regular occurrences in the supply chain, and provide exception reporting. Only when something goes out of tolerance are people needed to react. And in some cases, says Mesrobian, they don’t need to be involved even at that stage.
Pinpoint monitoring is essential. On a wind tower, a single 10-cent part that’s out of alignment can cost a company millions of dollars, says Mesrobian. An automated device can make a decision to shut itself off before the damage is done, all with the help of real-time data.
Predictive analytics is another key element in modern-day supply-chain management. Manufacturing plants today send thousands of pieces of information to their servers for analysis. “We can predict very precisely when a machine is going to fail prior to it happening,” says Mesrobian. “In some cases months in advance.”
One catch with technology in the age of the Internet of Things is security. Rarely does a manufacturer or supply chain open itself to untrusted devices, says Mesrobian. But “the Internet of Things is based on untrusted networks.”
Companies must work hard to ensure that their systems are secure. They should not assume that even a trusted computer will not affect the network. They should stop using a virtual private network, and stop connecting devices by breaking holes in the firewall, Mesrobian said.
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