I interviewed Siva Sivakumar who discussed Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing and Its' Impact on the Supply Chain.
It’s great to speak with you today, Siva. This is going to be a very intriguing, insightful topic on how M2M and Internet of things can be a boom for supply chain. My first question is: Can you define what M2M and IOT are? How are they relevant to the supply chain industry?
Sure. M2M, or machine to machine, and IOT, Internet of things, mean one in the same. Earlier, M2M was the most relevant word, and now I think Internet of things is the right word also. What IOT and M2M mean is a set of technologies that allow things around us to connect, communicate in an intelligent fashion so as to improve their working. In a nutshell, it’s just a set of technologies that allows the things around us to communicate and provide data to the company or person using the thing to better manage, and that’s what IOT technology does today.
As it relates to logistics, it helps logistics companies to better manage their assets, better utilize them, or, in other words, asset transformation. Logistics is a pretty vast industry; it’s pretty broad and involves people, third-party logistics providers, trucking companies, large fleets, pallets, cold-chain storage, cold-chain logistics; it’s a vast area comprising many elements. IOT finds application in all these areas in one form or the other.
For example, a fleet company that owns several hundred or several thousand trucks would like to know where their trucks are at any given point in time. That’s just a primitive or most basic use, but today it’s used for a lot more than that. Not only to know where the truck is, but what the expected time of arrival is. Is it using the right route or the most optimal route? Are the goods carried by the truck at the right temperature? Are the goods carried by the truck being interfered with, or was there any pilferage? Things like that.
We have taken IOT to the next level, where location is just the starting point. But what we do with that location, the status of the asset—it’s not the truck that is the only thing important, but what is inside the truck is probably a lot more valuable than the truck itself. Let’s say a truck is loaded with a life-saving vaccine or medicine or some kind of pharmaceutical stuff, then it’s a lot more important to maintain the temperature of the vaccine at the right level rather than knowing where it is.
Similarly, an ice cream truck should be maintained at the same temperature throughout the journey; otherwise, the ice cream is going to melt. The same thing with meat, produce, fruits, vegetables, whatever. That’s the role of M2M and IOT in a nutshell of how it helps the logistics industry. I can talk more about it, but I’ll wait for you to ask other questions and go from there.
How should supply chain professionals respond to this? Do you have any recommendations?
Yes, I do. Initially, the logistics supply chain industry tends to think of technology as an interference or Big Brother attitude sort of thing, “Hey, you’re watching me.” Drivers look at it as, “Hey, are you spying on me? Are you checking on me,” things like that. I think we’ve gotten past that now.
The industry should view this technology as a way for them to improve their bottom line, as a way for them to improve their efficiency of operations, and not as an interference point of view. If they improve how much they can deliver based on better utilizing their trucks, they’re going to get more business. If they’re able to provide a temperature report to their customers, showing, “We not only transported your temperature-sensitive goods from point A to point B, but we also maintained it at the right temperature. By the way, here is the log showing the temperature of the * (5:01—unclear) truck all the way from Chicago to San Diego,” that makes the customer feel a lot more confident about the quality of the goods.
There are some goods that are not only perishable but lead to health issues if they’re not stored at the right temperature, and that’s a serious thing. For a beverage company, ice cream company, or meat company to put their name on the product and sell it to customers stating that it meets the highest-quality standards, they need to ensure the quality was not just maintained from their factory, but before the material got into their factory. It is very, very important for them to understand that IOT or M2M technologies can help them achieve that level of quality that they are used to starting from their factory, but until now, there was no way they could ensure the quality before the stuff reached their factory or warehouse.
That’s how they should look at it. They should look at it as a way of transforming their business to the next level and also as a way of improving their top and bottom lines. If the quality is good, they’re going to get better business, more business; if their quality and operations are more efficient, then they will save cost on their operations, so that’s a saving to their bottom line. IOT helps both top and bottom line improvement for the logistics and supply chain business.
Can you provide a brief background of yourself?
Myself, I’ve been in the wireless industry for the past two and a half decades. I spent about 15, 16 years in the United States working for a company called Qualcomm, where we pioneered the wireless TDMA technology. After that, I’ve been in this M2M-IOT space for the past 12 years. The company that I run—Nimble Wireless—we focus on M2M-IOT solutions specifically for logistics and cold-chain industries, health and pharma, and also for energy monitoring. That’s a totally different industry from logistics, but that is another segment we focus on.
I’ve been fascinated by M2M and IOT since the early 2000s, when the industry was really nascent that not a lot of people knew what M2M was. I always thought the next way was not just connecting people; it is going to be connecting things around us. Everything around is becoming more or less electronic these days. The washing machine or the refrigerator or the air conditioner has a lot more electronics than it had ten years ago. The cars that you drive today have a lot more electronic components than ten years ago.
The more electronic components, the more the chances that you could talk to them. Once you talk to them, there is a way to make them work better. That’s kind of my passion for the past ten years, and that’s why we’ve been involved in creating products that use wireless technology and the IOT technologies to provide real-time savings for all the customers that we help and also increase their top line by providing better customer service and quality.
Thanks for sharing today.
About Siva Sivakumar
CEO & CTO - Nimble Wireless Inc.