End-end Supply Chain Visibility

Ship Being Loaded with Containers

End-end supply chain visibility - the holy grail of logistics for any manufacturer or retailer. This is an extremely difficult problem to solve, but the potential benefits are immense.

The reason it's hard to achieve true end-end visibility is generally the number of partners involved in moving this around the globe through highly complicated transportation networks and the fact that there are so many touchpoints where identification, and thus achieving visibility, is difficult and costly.

The benefits have been discussed extensively, so let us simply summarise this TechTarget article:

  • Measurable KPIs
  • Competitive advantage
  • Forecasting
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Compliance

There are many proposed silver bullets, RFID being one of them, but it fails because it depends on massive investments in hardware and a near-simultaneous adoption of the technology across a huge range of partners. Another is barcode scanning portals, but again, they are very expensive, and to deploy them at every touchpoint is not realistic.

So what can be done?

When one examines the actual touchpoints, many of them are already covered, primarily with barcode scanning, however, there are a large number of cases in which barcode scanning adds so much extra cost in equipment or labour that it becomes prohibitively expensive, as very often the bill then ends up with the shipper.

What if there was a cost-effective, zero-labour, mass deployable solution for this?

We believe Computer Vision is the answer. By utilising the cameras we already have, in our pocket with mobile phones and PDA, existing security cameras, and deploying relatively cheap standard security cameras on forklifts and at gates, we can observe the goods at the right touchpoints.

This visual data stream can be processed in such a way that every item is tracked by its barcode ID(s), from source to destination. We built Sentispec Access with this particular aim in mind, converting visual data, in real time, to tracking- and business data. The outputs from Sentispec Access can then be used to enrich existing supply chain data, as well as improving the economy of specific use cases and data in key systems (WMS, TMS, ERP, ...).

We believe data vision is quite simply visionary for business.

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