Michael Kreft, Executive Sales Director, Advantech
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has intensified pressure on retailers to optimise the management of their supply chains, especially those operating across international borders.
Challenges were already in place from issues such as trade wars, Brexit, natural disasters and problematic international relations, but the pandemic has put a renewed focus on issues such as freight costs and inventory control.
This was especially the case during the early part of the pandemic, when many passenger flights were grounded, reducing available freight capacity on international flights by a third or more. Yet due to the unavailability of “traditional” retail during local and national lockdowns, online purchases were growing exponentially.
Central to all of these issues is supply chain visibility based on the rapid availability of high-quality and meaningful data which can inform operational decision-making and so support operational optimisation.
For a company such as Advantech, the role is to help the retailer convey key data from Edge computing systems into the cloud in real time. This is achieved through a network of sensors, collection devices, cloud service devices and data management systems which between them provide truly actionable insight. This takes the form of simplified data, clearly presented, harnessing the power of machine learning and predictive algorithms to ensure the best decision is made.
While this is applicable across all retail sectors, it is ideally illustrated by the example of an operator needing to get fresh produce to multiple retail outlets within a certain region in a pre-agreed timescale. Especially in hot or humid outside conditions, maintaining a constant storage temperature is key, highlighting the role of sensors in warehouses, fridges and on vehicles. Gathering, presenting and then acting on data received from these sensors is critical to ensuring safe delivery.
To deliver these solutions, Advantech has developed a two-pronged approach: strategic alliances with technology leaders to ensure the inclusion of their software on our platforms to future-proof our offering and make it replicable; and co-creation with systems integrators to deliver standardised, application-specific solutions.
These approaches are key in delivering solutions which are predictive, customer-centric and sustainable, paving the way towards truly digital value chain management.
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