Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion around the supply chain. And as crisis concerns grow with no immediate solution in sight, companies around the world are looking for a serious enabler to optimize the supply chain.
Supply vs. Demand Chain
Through the management of logistics, operations, marketing and sales, and services, an organization creates a supply chain to deliver goods or services to a consumer. By anticipating the needs of the consumer, an organization can balance its expenditure of resources to meet market demand.
In the demand chain, the consumer initiates the flow of goods. By managing and better understanding relationships between consumers and suppliers, organizations can use information obtained through their demand chain to create greater operational efficiencies and minimize costs.
“The supply chain originates at the sources of supply and flows toward the customer, whereas the demand chain flows backward from the customer and ends up with the enterprise,” said Hokey Min, author of The Essentials of Supply Chain Management: New Business Concepts and Applications.
In a situation where supply chains around the world are in crisis, how can technology be used to optimize demand chain efficiencies?
How Bluetooth Technology Can Help
Advancements in Bluetooth® technology have paved the way for the development of battery-free tags which are becoming a crucial, low-cost solution for demand-chain optimization.
One company offering a battery-free solution to help enhance an organization’s demand chain is Wiliot. Wiliot is bringing its energy-harvesting, stamp-sized Bluetooth tags to a wide range of industries. This tag does not need a battery and has multiple sensors for everything from movement to fill levels to temperature to humidity to tamper detection. The tags can track a wide range of assets, from pallets in a warehouse to individual items in a store. Without batteries, they are a low-cost solution that is easy to deploy in mass. “For a truly efficient supply chain…we need to capture demand signals from customers as they are using products at work or at home,” said Steve Statler, Wiliot SVP of marketing. “The ubiquitous presence of Bluetooth technology is unique in facilitating that.”
Wiliot Bluetooth tags are already being used in grocery stores, clothing outlets, and to track medical supplies. “When the pandemic started, we integrated Bluetooth® IoT Pixels into vaccine vials to measure temperature over time and whether the vaccine was correctly diluted before administration to improve safety,” said Statler.
Bluetooth Tags in Grocery Stores
In grocery chains, Wiliot Bluetooth tags are attached to crates, allowing them to help reduce food waste, extend shelf life, and improve quality by measuring the FIFO (first in, first out) flow of the produce that travels from farm to store. By measuring the temperature of fruit and vegetables over time and spotting instances where crates start to get out of sequence, they can avoid leaving food to age at the back of storage spaces or at the wrong temperature.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, food systems consume about 30 percent of available global energy, 38 percent of which goes into producing food that is either lost or wasted. “Traceability and continuous tracking of where assets are is the key to addressing this and managing food safety and recall issues,” said Statler. “Not only can this make administering recalls safer and more efficient, but reducing food waste and the methane that results from rotting food can play a major part in the fight against climate change.”