Four Ways Supply Chain Leaders can Mitigate Risk in 2021

Four Ways Supply Chain Leaders Can Mitigate Risk In 2021

Supply chains are the beating heart of Australia and the world’s economy.

When that heartbeat faltered at the start of the Covid pandemic two things happened: consumers became acutely aware of the importance of supply chains, and a new agenda appeared around supply chain innovation to create more agile and resilient supply chain systems.

The pandemic sharpened the understanding that supply chain industry leaders and global corporations already had, to varying degrees: supply chain disruption that has been growing in frequency and magnitude for 10+ years is not going away.

Resilinc ISM Report
Source: Resilinc ISM report

And according to Bain & Company’s Expert Partner Gerry Mattios, speaking at SigfoxConnect last month:

Gerry Mattios

Industry leaders are prioritising risk mitigation as much as cost reduction. Increasing resilience is almost three times as important a priority for supply chain leaders in the next three years, compared to the last three years.

Gerry Mattios
Bain & Company’s Expert Partner

Don’t Predict: Plan

You can’t predict an oil crisis, you can’t predict a war, you can’t predict another pandemic, and you can’t really predict a security hack. All you know is that any one of these, or any number of other challenges, is at some point likely to happen.

Supply chain managers can, though, focus on what they can control, rather than on what they can’t predict

As we approach the end of 2020, let’s look broadly at the outlook for 2021 and consider what supply chain organisations can do differently to manage crises and build resilience for the future.

1. Build in Redundancy to Your ERP System

Cyber attacks on supply chains are on the rise. According to Symantec’s latest Internet Security Threat Report, attacks on supply chain have increased by 78%, and ERP systems are a prime target.

Supply Chain Attacks

Source: Symantec

Mitigating ERP cyber attacks has become a major board issue as executives now understand where that sits on the risk register. Hint: it’s ‘catastrophic impact’ and ‘likely’ to occur.

What happens when you can’t access the ERP system that is the lifeblood of your business? Your business stops.

To help mitigate this risk, supply chain leaders need to be working closely with IT security and risk management leaders to develop joint cybersecurity risk management approaches to their business.

They should consider alternate solutions that do not rely totally on ERP systems for critical data transfer.

What if you had a separate system to tell you where your assets are? A system independent from your ERP. Then you’ve controlled, mitigated and compartmentalised risk.

As I wrote about in my last article, boards are talking more about mitigating the impacts of cyber attacks on supply chains particularly sensitive to DDoS attacks (in which the network is overwhelmed with so many messages that it shuts down) on ERP systems by relying on third party asset location solutions running on 0G networks.

The reason for that is the global 0G Network is highly secure by design and less susceptible to network attacks – making it ideal for IIoT applications.

If your ERP system gets hacked in 2021, you’d see value in knowing where all your shipments are, and all your containers are across your global supply chain, via the 0G Network.

It’s one way to build in much needed redundancy.

2. Improve Connected Visibility Now – No Need to Wait for 5G

Knowing where your assets are is a very quick way of mitigating risk.

What could supply chain leaders have done differently this year, had they known more about their supply chain assets location and condition?

Investing in secure, effective tracking technologies is imperative because it means identifying risks and stopping them in their tracks.

It means faster reaction times when things go wrong. It means you can rapidly identify disruptive demand and supply situations and secure alternate suppliers. Visibility builds resilience.

In many ways, this is the promise of IIoT. And it’s being realised by more and more global supply chain businesses around the world, especially through 0G technology.

Unfortunately, marketing around 5G has become so inflated that it is seen as a ‘silver bullet’. 5G has become a ‘catch all’ term that promises to deliver a long awaited utopian future of economic prosperity. But it’s not a silver bullet. Different technologies are fit for different purposes.

The technologies that have activated most large-scale IoT sensor networks for asset tracking in the supply chain, to date; are inexpensive non-cellular low-power wide-area (LPWA) technologies like LoRaWAN and Sigfox, not 4G LTE, and not 5G at all, yet. Sure, these technologies are coming, and they will compliment existing connectivity approaches and expand the market, but smart businesses won’t wait for that day.

While 5G is intended to bring faster speeds, Sigfox 0G technology is designed to serve distinct use cases where communication range must reach further, penetrate dense physical structures, and allow battery-operated infrequent communication devices to last in the field for extended periods of time.

While 5G may be optimal for video calls or smart goods in the home, the 0G Network is ideal for supply chain asset tracking, water, gas metering, agriculture, smart building, and smart park applications among others – IoT is already revolutionizing so many of these industries.

3. Reduce Human Error – Invest in Automation

Tracking and tracing assets is the first step in improving supply chain visibility and lifting resilience.

But as we explored earlier, an ERP system going down can compromise that data access.

If you can get your assets to tell you where they are, there’s less reliance on systems, and on humans running around gathering data.

In the case of ASCAP, finding lost assets scattered across Australia took “a massive amount of work”. They were manually tracking them down, even physically putting employees on planes to fly interstate and retrieve returnable packaging units that had been lost in transit. This was before they deployed a successful IoT asset tracking project.

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Within four months of ASCAP’s returnable packaging partner Loscam deploying a end-to-end IoT-enabled solution operating long range, long battery-life 0G-enabled devices, it discovered 5% of units were incorrectly delivered to a competitor’s warehouse and 8% of units moved outside the customer’s logistics provider network.

The technology brought a much needed increase in visibility and control of assets, operational efficiency and asset utilisation. In one customer scenario, it reduced the number of units needed by 25%, enabling tens of thousands of dollars of savings to be passed onto customers each year.

Track, Trace and Tell technology also improves efficiency through automating manual tasks. If nobody has to scan packages anymore, because the package informs you of its location, human error is eliminated. There is less loss, less untraceable theft.

It’s all about enabling you to do less and get information with more accuracy, and faster.

4. Screen Suppliers & Document High-value Data Access Flow

Supply chains are highly vulnerable due to the fact that they are, by nature, interconnected. Third-party suppliers can create something of a weakest link if not inspected properly for their commitment to security -an Opus and Ponemon Institute study showed that at least 59% of organisations have suffered from cyberattacks through third-party companies.

Competitive supply chains need a flexible system of suppliers and partners that offer the ability to swap input materials and components and rapidly introduce new products.

Dun & Bradstreet researchers found that 51,000 companies worldwide, 163 of which are in the Fortune 1000, had one or more direct or “Tier 1” suppliers in Wuhan, China, the city where the coronavirus hit first, while at least 5 million — 938 in the Fortune 1000 — had one or more “tier 2″ suppliers there.

There is no easy solution to ensuring end-to-end security, but organisations can start by defining their security requirements and thoroughly vetting each supplier before bringing them onboard as a regular partner.

A recent Gartner report on supply chain cyber security also encouraged supply chain leaders to research and document the flow of high-value supply chain data and information across systems outside core IT systems.

Ensuring regular communication and a strong cyber-risk management program can help companies gain a deeper understanding of suppliers and enable stronger collaboration.

Use the Lessons of 2020 to Plan for the Future

Creating a multifaceted supply chain security strategy will cost money, but investing in strong risk management could save your company and your business. Those who use a crisis to make investments and accelerate change come out better off. Resilient supply chains not only recover from disruption, with the right level of investment, they can become a source of competitive advantage.

As the year comes to an end, it’s worth reflecting on what you could have done differently with greater visibility and data in 2020, and use those lessons to plan for next year.

2021 looks to hold just as much uncertainty and upheaval, but armed with the knowledge and insight from 2020, plus innovative technologies and strong board appetite for change, supply chain leaders can succeed in building greater resilience.

Unlocking Operational Efficiencies

IoT-Devices
img-Loïc Barancourt

As the supply chain industry post COVID-19, the common themes are centred around resilience, flexibility and control. With IoT well-placed to transform the supply chain. there are significant operational benefits to be realised with this accessible and mature technology.

Loic Barancourt
CEO & Co-Founder of Thinxtra

At the centre of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology is its ability to offer more control and visibility. With COVID-19 sending shockwaves through the global supply chain network, real-time data insights about location and condition of shipments or assets are needed now more than ever to make better informed decisions.

Resilience and efficiency will be the crucial values in the next normal post COVID-19, and cost control is more critical than ever. Disruptions caused as a result of a lack of visibility across the supply chain ultimately lead to unplanned costs and serious operational issues.

By increasing visibility and control, you can minimise these costly disruptions well before they occur. If you can know where your assets are throughout the working day as they move through the supply chain, as well as what condition they are in, then you can pre-emptissues that may arise as a result of lack of transparency.

When we founded Thinxtra, The IoT Telco, our mission was to accelerate the adoption of IoT, to unlock large efficiency gains while building more sustainable business practices. Our vision preceded COVID- 19, but the fundamental benefits of IoT have never been more relevant.

What is IoT?

While there is a lot of mystery around new technology such as IoT, in its simplest form IoT is a collection of interconnected physical devices that can monitor, report on and exchange data. Simply put – with IoT you can ask your assets ‘where are you’ and ‘how are you feeling’ and then use that information to make them work smarter for you.

IoT devices are typically connected to computer systems via IoT networks. In the case of Thinxtra, we have built the 0G IoT Network infrastructure in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Macau. This network is part of the global 0G Network, powered by Sigfox technology, a low power, wide area network (LPWAN) that reduces the cost and effort of deploying IoT solutions at scale, locally and globally.

This enables a plug and play scenario, whereby once you are ready to track your assets the public network is already established and ready for you to connect.

Furthermore, the decision to build and operate the 0G Network was a strategic choice for Thinxtra, driven by the fact that we knew that across the supply chain there are hundreds and sometimes hundreds of thousands of assets need to be tracked daily, and could not be connected over the 4G/5G networks due to cost and battery-life issues.

But when we say need to be tracked, we mean that you need to know where they are maybe once, or twice a day. Rather than a constant stream of information that is not adding value.

For example, take roll cages. You may lose hundreds of these across your network every year. But if you could have access to real-time data once a day about where all of your roll cages are located across your network, you virtually eliminate the chance of losing them.

The 0G Network offers a never-before realised cost effective way to track low and medium value assets across the supply chain.

As opposed to 4G or 5G networks, that usually provide a constant, high volume stream of information and therefore require a large amount of power and bandwidth, the 0G Network provides a cost-effective way to track assets once or twice a day and can boast battery life of many years, often up to seven years.

The 0G Network still allows for tracking location, movement, temperature, humidity, shock and many more parameters, but the amount of times a day this data is communicated makes the case a compelling, affordable and operationally viable one. This makes the technology ideal for roll-cages, trailers, drums, beer kegs, containers and even pallets who need to be tracked over years.

The New Way

While tracking is not new, with technology like RFID and barcodes now commonplace in the supply chain, the business objectives of being able to have more useful data on a regular basis, as assets move between locations, can be realised with IoT. It is now also possible to monitor the condition of goods as they move, for example temperature, humidity, shock or water leakages. By combining location with condition data, a whole new range of valuable data insights can be created for all supply chain partners.

RFID and barcoding are reliant on manual processing and scanning. You only know where your asset is based on the last time it was scanned. Furthermore, manual processes around data capture and reporting often follow with these kinds of technology. But with IoT, the data is automatically uploaded digitally to the cloud and can be integrated with any systems.

This more traditional practice is also limited by location. You can track the location of something at one location, but you can’t track that movement. So, if you lose something along the way, or it gets left at the wrong depot, you have no idea where that happened across the supply chain. With IoT, you have a regular flow of data so you can limit losses and damages.

Is IoT Too Expensive?

The simple answer is no, not anymore. With the 0G Network, you can track a high volume of assets, seamlessly and globally at a fraction of the cost of 3G, 4G or 5G technology.

The question you need to ask yourself is what do I really need to get out of my assets For low value assets, that is usually just where they are located and in what condition and in terms of frequency, maybe once or twice a day.

What may at first seem like a small amount of data, in reality offers huge operational benefits. If you know where your full fleet of assets is, every single day, you can achieve next level of control and flexibility to manage your supply chain operations.

Furthermore, by utilising Thinxtra’s 0G Network the set up cost is much lower than at first appears when all you need is the devices, connect them to the public network and integrate the data in your systems and processes to monitor them.

We’ve seen businesses realise an ROI in a matter of months, with loss ratios down, utilisation increases, waste reduction and a boost in staff productivity.

What’s Next?

Joining the IoT journey is easier than you think. All you need is a business issue you need to solve through accurate data, and we know there are many of these.

If you don’t know where your assets are, your business is constantly at risk. With IoT you have peace of mind that you have complete transparency and control over your entire network.

The 0G Network provides the perfect opportunity to scale the technology across an entire fleet network, providing benefits across a nationwide or international supply chain.

Once installed, you can realise the benefits of IoT for many years, oftentimes up to seven years with minimal disruption or maintenance. This has been strategically developed to coincide with the lifespan of many assets in the supply chain such as IBCs, pallets or roll cages.

As we move further towards a sustainable future, IoT technology is set to play an increasing role. By being able to track where your assets are and limit loss, you can operate a much more lean and green business model by reducing waste and cutting emissions.

We live and breathe IoT and we are excited about sharing the operational, sustainable and cost benefits of the network and technology that we have developed with you.

Adams Pest Control, Cre8tec and Thinxtra Create the Future of Pest Control Saving Time and Money with IoT-enabled 24×7 Digital Rodent Management Solution Running on Thinxtra’s 0G Network

img-blog_banner-Adams Pest Control

About Adams Pest Control, A Division of Orkin Australia

Since 1944 Adams Pest Control has been a leading Australian pest service provider. With a company culture that values innovation, Adams was one of Australia’s first pest management firms to track and control rodent activity using world-leading technology.

The Opportunity

Use science and data to disrupt traditional commercial rodent management methods with a technology-based solution that remotely detects and monitors rodent activity 24×7 enabling fast, targeted treatment.

The IoT Solution

RATSENSE, an Internet of Things (IoT) enabled digital rodent surveillance system, remotely monitors rodent activity and supports targeted treatment to help customers:

  • improve speed and efficiency of rodent management.
  • protect business reputation and property.
  • save time and money.
  • meet ISO compliance standards.

Adams Pest Control, a division of Orkin Australia, have been industry-leaders in commercial pest control for over 75 years. The team understands all too well the immeasurable damage the humble rodent can cause to a business’s property, reputation and human health.

Rats and mice carry more than 50 diseases communicable to humans. Rodents must gnaw hard materials daily to control tooth growth, which creates structural damage and fire risk. And no business wants a customer complaint about a rodent running across the floor of their restaurant, university lecture hall, supermarket or hospital.

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Over fourteen years we collected field data on our traditional rodent control methods of manually laying traps and baits, sealing entry points and removing food and water sources. Those techniques are time-consuming, costly and inefficient. In one example, our technician took ten hours every month to manually check 300 bait stations to find only two had activity. We knew there must be a better way to get better customer outcomes. Our leadership team embraces innovation and backed plans to transform our approach to an age-old problem.

Peter Taylor,
General Manager of Adams Pest Control, a Division of Orkin Australia

Early Challenges

The Adams Pest Control team explored sensor-based technology to detect and control rodent activity. Rodents create nests, holes and runways which are used repeatedly to move between nesting areas and food and water sources. Such activities are often concealed in challenging environments including basements, cellars or structural foundations encased in thick concrete.

Taylor says, “Our first project with sensor-based technology used Wi-Fi to connect sensors. In practice, Wi-Fi had poor range where we needed it to work and it became expensive because of the number of hardware, modems and repeater stations necessary to cover a commercial building. Next we tried SIM cards, but we found the battery life too short to be sustainable and the business case simply didn’t stack up.

Why Thinxtra?

In 2017, Taylor and his team consulted with Cre8tec, an Internet of Things (IoT) solution provider. Cre8tec offers a market-leading IoT-enabled solution for digital rodent surveillance: RATSENSE.

To install RATSENSE, trained Adams technicians place infrared sensor-based tracking devices, running on long-life batteries, around a property to monitor rodents in real-time. Activity data is captured and sent to a centralised base station through the most challenging environments, including basements and cellars, via the Thinxtra 0G Network, powered by Sigfox. The Thinxtra 0G Network is the public, low-cost, low-power, wide area network dedicated to connecting Internet of Things (IoT) devices over long distances.

Taylor says, “We partnered with Cre8tec because RATSENSE is world-leading digital rodent surveillance technology that runs on the Thinxtra 0G Network. The 0G Network is fast, reliable, low cost, long-range, flexible and can provide coverage in all the locations where we need it. Connection to the network was as easy as turning on a switch. It hasn’t let us down once since we went live with our first customer.” on-site.

img-Deanne_Baptista

The RATSENSE digital surveillance system records rodent activity in real-time, taking the guesswork out of rodent management. Multiple Grade A buildings, large infrastructure sites and universities in Singapore and Australia have installed RATSENSE. We’ve proven the ability to reliably identify rodent activity for rapid treatment improves time and cost savings for customers and increases the efficiency of rodent management by pest control companies.

Deanne Baptista,
Director of Cre8tec

Data Drives Positive, Measurable Impact

Adams Pest Control deployed its first RATSENSE system in July 2018 for a customer at a large entertainment facility. The facility used over 900 bait stations every month to manage rodents, which Adams replaced with 500 sensors. The savings in technician time to detect problems, reduced cost of chemicals and baits and improved speed to fix problems motivated the customer to deploy the RATSENSE system to its three other locations around the country.

Taylor says, “We believe Adams was the first Australian pest controller to hire a data analyst. Data captured by the RATSENSE system lets us create heat maps of rodent activity. For one customer, the heat map identified an activity spike which pinpointed the details we needed to fix the problem in a single day. In the past, we might have taken a month to find that problem. For another customer our kill rate went from 120 rodents a month to just over 3,000 rodents over 3 months Using data in our business is the best solution we’ve found to improve how we help customers in over a decade.”

The Good News from False Positives

Critics of digital rodent surveillance systems cite faulty sensors and false positive sensor readings as a drawback to technology-based pest control. Taylor takes a different view, “It’s simply not true that sensors aren’t reliable. Modern sensor technology is mature and trustworthy. Alleged false positives have led us to discover other business problems. At one customer, the sensors detected a damaging slug infestation. At another, the sensors revealed an inadvertent security risk by a chef who left a door open when he took breaks. We take advantage of so-called ‘false positives.”

Measurable Outcomes

With RATSENSE, pest control companies can offer customers 24×7 always-on digital rodent surveillance delivering positive, measurable outcomes. Customers save time and money by efficiently fixing problems while protecting reputation, property and human health. RATSENSE helps customers meet ISO compliance standards and reduce rodent chemicals used on-site by up to 80 per cent. Pest control companies can divert technician time traditionally needed on-site for manual rodent management towards supporting treatments for a broader range of customers. RATSENSE also enables pest control companies to offer COVID-safe treatment due to the reduced need for technicians on-site.

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Cre8tec are a strategic, innovative partner who are leading the market in disrupting pest control with the IoT. RATSENSE is a powerful example of the speed, flexibility, reliability and ease-of-use of the Thinxtra 0G Network.

Loic Barancourt,
Chief Executive Officer of Thinxtra

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About Adams Pest Control, a Division of Orkin Australia

Since 1944 Adams Pest Control has been Australia’s largest independent pest control provider. In July 2020, Orkin Australia, a subsidiary of Atlanta, Ga.-based Rollins Inc, acquired Adams Pest Control. With a company culture that values innovation, Adams was one of the first pest controllers in Australia to adopt electronic monitoring, using world-leading technology, to track, monitor and control rodent activity. Adams Pest Control treats rodents, insects, birds, possums, spiders, bees, silverfish and termites.

Visit the Adams Pest Control website for more information about its full range of services.