Running Supply Chain on the Edge, with Edge Computing!

Edge Computing

The supply chain management industry has undergone many changes in recent years. The introduction of IoT devices to the supply chain, the rise of edge computing, and its ability to increase connectivity and efficiencies, have changed how businesses operate across industries.

This article will look at how edge computing is revolutionizing supply chain management and data collection methods.

What Is Edge Computing?

Edge computing is a new technology that allows data to be processed at the edge of a network rather than in its center. It is a distributed computing architecture where each device can process tasks independently and send only relevant information to other devices for further processing. 

This distributed model means that edge computing can reduce network latency by allowing actionable data from sources like sensors and other IoT devices to be analyzed much closer than would otherwise be possible with cloud-based systems.

In supply chain management applications, edge computing enables greater efficiency by eliminating extra steps needed when data travels back and forth between different centralized servers before it can be acted upon. 

With places like warehouses located close to shipping facilities and distribution centers (DCs), this technology allows them to act upon information as soon as they receive it. This will minimize delays caused by transferring data between locations via secure channels or over wireless networks, which may not operate at optimal speeds due to congestion issues.

Introducing IoT Devices for Supply Chain Enhancement

IoT devices for supply chain enhancement are a new way to collect data from different parts of the supply chain. The number of IoT devices in use surpassed the number of non-IoT devices in 2020. IoT devices can also collect data from different locations in the supply chain.

This will allow companies to have more visibility into their inventory, improve their cash flow and provide them with an overall better understanding of where they stand in relation to their customers’ needs.

Distributed Data Is Efficient

Data is distributed across the edge of the network. This means that data is processed locally, and only the results are sent to the cloud. Gartner predicts that by 2025, around 75% of the overall data generated by enterprises will be not only generated but also processed at the edge. This means that the data will go outside the centralized data centers or cloud systems.

Since your data is encrypted at the edge, it’s not accessible by anyone else. It also means it’s stored on edge devices and available when needed.

As your data is local instead of being in a centralized environment (the cloud), you don’t have to worry about latency issues or service disruptions due to natural disasters or other events that could affect connectivity or internet access. Moreover, you’ll be able to continue operating even if there are connectivity issues between organizations within your supply chain network.

Real-Time Visibility and Responsiveness to Unstuck Supply Chains

You may be wondering how edge computing can help you respond to problems in your supply chain. Well, edge computing gives you real-time visibility into activities in your supply chain. This means you’ll be able to identify and act on issues much faster. You’ll also have more accurate information about the state of your supply chain so that bad decisions aren’t made based on insufficient data or assumptions.

The ability to help make real-time decisions is crucial in supply chain management. In fact, Gartner predicts that 25% of supply chain decisions will be made across intelligent edge ecosystems by 2025.

In fact, according to the 2019 Forrester Analytics Global Business Technographics Mobility Survey, 57 percent of executives who make mobility decisions indicate that an edge computing solution will be on their roadmap in the next year.

Suppose you need data to decide whether or not to order more inventory. You can now get this information from IoT sensors, which are much more accurate than manual data collection methods. In fact, the more precise your data is, the better decisions you can make.

Process Automation, Aided by Edge Computing

Edge computing can potentially simplify some of the more complex processes in supply chain management. For example, it can make it easier for businesses to process orders and automate processes that require real-time data analysis.

It can also help with predictive analytics, which allows you to gather insights about future events based on historical data. Finally, edge computing can be used for machine learning applications such as training robots or self-driving vehicles by processing large amounts of data at an accelerated rate.

Edge computing can also help businesses improve their customer experience by making it easier to process orders and respond to inquiries in real time. For example, if a customer places an order, the information will be sent directly to the nearest edge server, which can be processed and sent back within seconds. This allows businesses to offer faster service while reducing costs associated with managing data centers.

Decreasing Latency With Edge Computing in the Supply Chain

Edge computing decreases latency by shifting the computation closer to the data source. This improves responsiveness, efficiency, and visibility in supply chain management. According to IBM, edge computing can reduce latency by 10-20 ms.

With traditional cloud computing, when you want to access a piece of data from storage, you have to send it back and forth between the cloud server and your device over the internet (which can be slow). With edge computing, this isn’t necessary. 

Instead of sending all your data into an external system for processing, only those slices of information that need to be analyzed are sent back and forth over a local connection (i.e., from your device or sensor directly into storage). By doing so, you only need one connection between each component instead of several connections between everything in your entire supply chain, which makes things faster.

This is especially important when dealing with time-sensitive situations like airline baggage tracking and during natural disasters where all communications networks may go down at once.

Final Words

Edge computing is changing the way businesses manage supply chains. It allows them to see data in real time, respond quickly to problems, and improve efficiency in a way that would not be possible without it. The future looks bright for edge computing applications in supply chain management.

Edge computing article and permission to publish here provided by Stephen Evans. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on September 19, 2022.