Take a trip into the Cloud!
Imagine a bird’s eye view of temperature monitoring from farm to fork; monitoring the production area of the food, cold store distribution and point of sale. It can all easily be achieved through the power of radio.
All that data is sent to the central software platform which accepts data from any number of sources. So in the factory, for example, there is a fixed monitoring system monitoring freezers, fridges, cookers maybe, production areas and so on. The upload happens via radio to a receiver on the local internet and then into the SQL database.
Data from the delivery trucks comes back over mobile phone network into the same database. If you have remote sites with no network access we can use radio sensors back to a data collector that transfers the data over the mobile phone network in the same database.
The important point is that when the client or the auditor looks at the data what they see is seamless – every part of the operation is covered. And as those of us in logistics all know, transportation was always the big gap in terms of seemless data.
The multi-channel upload capability makes it very suited to places like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India, with poor network or intranet systems. UK, Europe and the US, for example, are used to multi-sizes all being connected together and back to HQ. Paradoxically, the really sophisticated network stuff is really easy, and firms achieve that buzz word for a lot of global-centralisation.
Centralisation problems can then arise when a client runs their own “homemade server-based system” where every computer used has to install the software individually. Therefore, Sydney, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo all with individual systems, using different operating systems can create different maintenance complications.
You could pop along to central IT and get them to design an adaption to the main system, however, experience of many firms with a global network is that certainly managers and often the IT bosses themselves quake at the thought of touching a legacy system.
We might work for a business with operations in France, Hungary and Russia and it takes a year to sort out a trivial problem just because of the legacy system. In Malaysia, cold chain distributors are often third party independent companies – all small firms dotted about and the big global brand has to regularly send staff out to each of those firms individually, simply to audit the conditions, making sure the fridges are within temp band and so on.
A cloud-based solution reduces project duration and complexity. Provision of cloud software is very fast. You don’t need to install software or servers, so projects can get off the ground in a day instead of two months.
Secondly, agility requires that companies enable and encourage innovation. Software as a Solution (SaaS) makes that possible in a way that traditional, perpetual software licensing cannot. Some SaaS vendors provide pay-as-you-go licensing which provides a commercial back drop that fosters experimentation. Whereas old school thinking was return on investment. People can now afford to experiment with technology-enabled initiatives in a test and learn manner.
At the IMC Group, we can set up a very easy system that goes out and just works on the mobile phone network. No infrastructure, the big global doesn’t have to involve their IT people or touch the legacy system, and customers prefer it because their centralised integrated monitoring system is running rapidly and relatively inexpensively. There’s greater data security and easy software upgrades across all bases. Also they can impose it on their third party subcontractors with a fast inexpensive no risk cloud-based solution.
Of course, it’s not just about food chain. We’ve set up similar centralised cloud-based monitoring in a collection of museums around Qatar. They liked the fact there was no heavy network infrastructure overhead. Data access is easy and maintenance is easy so from an IT point of view they’re not now maintaining half a dozen or more disparate servers.