3 Reasons Why Language Services are Needed in Hospitals

Several laws are routinely enforced in an effort to ensure that limited English proficiency (LEP) and Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (HoH) patients are provided meaningful access to pertinent information surrounding their healthcare and well-being. These regulations were put into effect to incentivize hospitals to provide the same level of health care services and coverage to all patient populations, regardless of their language or culture of origin. One way to ensure that hospitals adhere by these regulations—and deliver proper care to LEP/HoH patients—is by offering language services.

When LEP patients are provided with medical language services, hospitals experience an increase in LEP patient engagement, an enhancement in LEP patient-provider communication and an improvement in LEP patient outcome. Patients who are provided with clear and concise information pertaining to their healthcare and well-being tend to be more actively engaged in their care plans, resulting in shorter lengths of stay and lower readmissions. Here’s how:

See AlsoHow IoT is Revolutionizing Workplace Safety?

Breaking Language Barriers Boosts Patient Comfort

Patient comfort is directly correlated with higher patient satisfaction, engagement and outcome, so it’s no wonder why it’s a top concern for hospitals.  Additionally, patients who are comfortable with their environment tend to have a better patient-provider relationship—and much of this comfort stems from having a firm understanding of healthcare information, plans and procedures. Therefore, any LEP and/or Deaf/HoH patient should be provided with the assistance of a medically qualified interpreter to ensure that such understanding is taking place. To ensure that patients receive communication assistance when needed, providers can collect the patient’s preferred language at intake and post the availability of language services in a clearly visible area.

Providing Clarity Can Prevent Unnecessary Procedures & Tests

Language barriers can have dangerous implications for patients; without the assistance of an interpreter, physicians may misunderstand, miscalculate or misdiagnose the LEP patient’s condition. By using a qualified interpreter, hospitals can significantly reduce the risk of miscommunication and unnecessary procedures and/or tests.

LEP and Deaf/HoH patients who are not provided with language services at the time of admission and/or discharge have been shown to experience both a longer length of stay and a greater risk of readmission within 30 days. A study by the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health & Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that the use of a qualified medical interpreter reduced LEP patient stay by almost a day. Shorter lengths of stay have been shown to improve LEP patient outcome and significantly lower the cost of patient care for health systems.

Proper Communication Improves Overall Patient Outcomes

Providers must disclose information pertaining to any patient treatment, test or procedure, including any risk or benefit as well as the likelihood that any risk or benefit will occur. Additionally, the patient must have the ability to make a decision, understand the information provided and grant consent without persuasion by part of the provider. This decision-making capacity of the patient can be greatly impacted by language barriers, hearing loss and/or impairment.

A recent study by the National Institutes of Health revealed that less than 45% of LEP patients were provided with interpretation, sight translation and/or document translation of consent forms in their preferred language. This indicates an underutilization of language services in healthcare. In order to ensure that informed consent is truly taking place, healthcare facilities are obligated to assess patient language needs prior to offering a service and render language services as needed. Many facilities provide documents that are routinely provided in English in the top needed languages via the use of a hospital translator. LEP patients can then review healthcare information in their own language. Others have medically qualified interpreters verbally summarize documents in the patient’s preferred language to ensure that meaningful understanding takes place. Without the assistance of language services, hospitals compromise the patient’s access to healthcare information, thus placing the outcome of the patient at great risk.

These great disparities in care can be avoided with the use of a qualified interpreter. Interpreters who are medically qualified can quickly determine when a cultural difference is negatively impacting patient-provider communication and act accordingly, resulting in seamless communication, improved patient care and outcome.

Behind the Technology Itself

With the demand for qualified interpreters on the rise in a wide variety of languages, technology is increasingly utilized to help fill the gap. There are three modes of interpretation delivery in healthcare: onsite interpreting, video remote interpreting (VRI) and over-the-phone interpreting (OPI), all of which have been greatly influenced by the advancement of technology. VRI combines the benefits of face-to-face interpretation with the on-demand nature of OPI. With just the press of a button, patients can see and hear a qualified medical interpreter in their language. Over-the-phone interpreters can be reached by any telephone, dual handset, speakerphone or cell phone. The remote nature of VRI and OPI eliminate time spent traveling or scheduling and provide access to a wider range of interpreters qualified in languages of lesser diffusion that may not be available on-site. As for on-site interpretation, mobile and desktop apps now have the capability to route on-site interpreting requests to qualified interpreters in the surrounding area, simplifying the scheduling process and improving interpreter efficiency.

With the LEP patient population rising, technology is quickly proving to be dispensable in the realm of language services. When interpreting resources are limited, technology can be leveraged to widen the scope of services provided to non-English speaking patients, ensuring that all patients are provided with meaningful access to healthcare information.

Author Bio: David leads the overall strategic direction of Stratus Video’s Language Services division and brings over 26 years of experience working for healthcare information technology and service companies. Prior to joining Stratus Video, he was president and founder of MDeverywhere, revenue cycle management software tailored to the healthcare industry.

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[Interview] Nokia Managers on Choosing Your IoT Network

Jason Elliott, 5G market development manager

Samuele Machi, marketing manager, 4th industrial revolution

 

ReadWrite: When we talk about networking around IoT there’s a lot of smaller networking models e.g mesh networks and protocols. Everything from that to large networks talking about 5g deployments. So, there’s a lot of issues for large enterprises to plan around IoT. For you two, what are the biggest issues to consider for an executive that’s choosing the network for their own IoT deployment?

Jason: It depends on the business need.  You need to ask yourself questions such as:

  • Do you have an immediate business need such as a one plus year time frame?
  • Are you looking at a strategy type decision over the next five years?
  • Do you want to build expertise?
  • What’s your investment model?
  • When thinking about digital automation and connectivity and automating your enterprise your enterprise, do you want to control the entire set of infrastructure?
  • Are you actually building your staffing resources and infrastructure to control and manage the network yourself?
  • In terms of spectrum, are you going to build it yourself or are you going to partner with a wireless provider to do that?

These are critical, strategic business decisions that you need to address and then you decide upon the underlying technology that will help you realize the individual use cases.

There are existing technologies that can be used today that could meet certain business requirements at a limited scale, which can then be expanded and extended to include more mission critical functions when you deploy 5G.

You definitely want to apply the right piece of technology for that particular business case. And then there’s different types of investment cycles.  For example, obviously there’s a lot of mature technologies out there today that may be mid to lower cost that you could invest in.  This decision may yield shorter term operational savings that you are looking for.  However, for longer term needs such as providing new use cases that increase revenue it may be necessary to invest in a bigger and better technology such as 5G.

Samuele: There are major things that executives should take into consideration before planning connectivity for an IoT project and in fact, it isn’t easy. The first consideration is the type of use case you want to enable because they are all different and require different levels of reliability and different types of latency.  For example, say you want to connect your parcel which is traveling the world and you want to know where it is, this is different from connecting an autonomous vehicle in a factory or maybe in a harbour.  They are both IoT use cases but completely different.

The next consideration is what connectivity networks are available in your area? The key questions to ask yourself are: Do you have a public IoT cellular network available (eg. NB-IoT or LTE-M), or will/can you purchase/lease spectrum so that you can build a licensed LTE private network, or do you have to use some unlicensed /shared spectrum LTE based technology (e.g. Multefire and CBRS)?

The final consideration is about the existing ecosystem. If you want to use a very new technology which has not been associated with that many devices yet, you have to have a plan. Maybe you need to galvanize your local ecosystem into action to speed up things. You have to be aware of how long it might take for you to get the pieces that you need to build your use case.

I would say these are the three key steps to think about (use case, connectivity and ecosystem), but of course, there are many sub items And details associated with them.

 

ReadWrite: I think we’ve dovetailed into number 2. Can you elaborate on the types of use cases that you see and how those networking use cases might start out?

Jason: We’ve been talking a lot about the industry 4.0 because that’s where we see the potential for a lot of transformation. If you look at it, there’s different types of industries such as: manufacturing, construction, power generation, and distribution. . Let’s look at a new possible business model for the ‘process’ industry like chemical manufacturing. Instead of taking raw materials and just creating a final product that is sold, they could provide tighter integration into their customers operations. Allowing them to make tailored products or offer analysis services.  The ability for a business to interact with partners and customers at different parts of the value chain is important. Building flexibility into the infrastructure allows you to be able to do that. It is critical.

Today proprietary systems are in place because a business has one specific part in the value chain. However, what should be done is take a big step back and ask yourself, ‘OK how could I sell my product or my services that I create at any part of that value chain. What do I need to do with my infrastructure to be able to enable that and become a much more flexible and agile business?”  Once these are addressed, then the conversation changes to things like building a flexible network architecture, using fundamental technologies like NFV and SDN, being able to automate all those processes using advanced analytics (AI) and ensuring security. Looking at the problem from a business perspective is the first step and then identifying the right set of technology tools comes next.

Samuele: You also need to take into account whether you are going to ask your network operator for a dedicated piece of their public network, or will you build your own network. Think of when you do speed tests.  Your “score” does not really depend on you, does it? Basically, if your business model is that you want to use the mobile network so that you can easily deploy whatever use case or device whenever you feel like, you have two choices.  You can either make the wireless network a part of your IT infrastructure so you have full control over it (e.g., you go and place your access points and you provision the devices, and so on) or you can ask a communication service provider to do it all for you.

You need to start playing in IoT today and gain some experience with the technologies that are available now (eg LTE based technologies + edge computing) in order to be ready to capture the full potential of the 4th industrial revolution that will be powered by 5G.

 

ReadWrite: We talked about edge computing. We know that around IoT everything seems to be covering at the edge and it’s not just connectivity or compute capacity but also energy as well. When you think about an IoT network, you think of them meeting all these utilities. I use the example of an autonomous vehicle because it happens to be there largest, sexiest appliance in an IoT network that everyone likes to talk about, but it’s also one of the biggest consumers of all of those three things, those utilities if you deploy a network. 

How do you see energy and compute capacity factoring into a connectivity network of choice for an executive? 

Samuele: Regarding mobile edge computing, we see more and more IoT data being processed at the edge and this is estimated to reach around 40% of all data within the next couple of years.

 

ReadWrite: Do you know what the percentage is now?

Samuel: I do not have the latest figures but it is negligible.  Also, a number of cloud providers are now rolling out solutions working at the edge clouds.  It’s a big growth area and the EDGE concept may mean something different depending upon who is talking about it. Nevertheless, we all agree it means we want to essentially minimize the distance from where the data is generated to where it is collected and processed. There are a few reasons why we do that:

  1. It’s related to the speed of light. Even if the speed of light is very fast, there are some applications where milliseconds delay, say a control system, might not be feasible. If you imagine something like a system control in a factory, you need a millisecond or less to make sure everything runs smoothly.
  2. When you think of the amount of data that is created, for example, an airplane creates a lot of data during each of its trips. It’s not very meaningful as most of that data is raw data.  The significant data may only be an outlier taking place, such as a warning, and that is the part you have to pay attention to. Edge computing provides the capability for the data to be analysed locally and only a small amount is actually transferred.  In the end, there is cost reduction in the transmission bill.
  3. Another aspect is related to the privacy of the data. Edge computing makes sure that data that is created locally stays local. There are many cases where regulators make data stay in the country where it was generated.  Also, certain companies may feel more comfortable when they know the data stays in the company and never goes out.

For us, the edge is a data center because you need a lot of processing power available.  Not every IoT application needs this. Edge computing makes sense when one or more of the above 3 requirements exists. You hear a lot about Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) that are designed to minimize energy consumption of smart objects so that you won’t need to change billions of batteries every year.

Not all IoT use cases aim at minimizing energy consumption. This might be a priority for a gas meter but not crucial at all for a remotely controlled vehicle.

Jason: Back to the flexibility point of view, because with Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) not only are you processing the data closer to the access network, it’s accessible and controlled by the enterprise, so deploying an application on a MEC server becomes simpler and faster.  Flexibility and local control is very powerful in the case of IoT when dealing with the type and quantity of data that gets collected and the applications that get hosted rather than having to go back to a centralized cloud that might be 3rd or hybrid owned.

Samuele:  By the way, edge computing is the key component of what we call Future X network.  Once we get to 5G, cCore edge cloud it’s a natural evolution of Nokia Edge Computing.

 

ReadWrite: Networks require constant upgrading to keep up and that requires investment from whoever your partners are going to be or new participants to come in and disrupt the services or technology but those all have time frames as well. Will today’s IT technology look dramatically different in 5-10 years?

Jason: From my perspective, we’ve had cellular IoT out for a while.  What you’re seeing now is some wireless providers turning off their 2G networks and it is taking a long time to get there. Previously, networks were designed for different specific purposes. So, if you think about 2G, it was designed for voice, 3G for web and data, and 4G for video. When you make an investment in IOT, you’re making an investment for a number of years. Particularly when you’re deploying large number of devices and they’re embedded in the ground. In those individual use cases, you will use the existing technologies that you have today and they will serve their particular use case within their lifecycle.

In terms of 5G, we see the fundamental design criteria differently from before. We are going from just a few bits per second to gigabits per second. We see 5G as more of a unifying technology in the longer term. So you might deploy IoT using today’s technology and once that’s served its lifecycle you can swap those devices out using 5G.  By the time we get to a certain point, we might see maturity in a 5G environment where you would have that capability and you start to transition those devices piece by piece and that’s just purely from the radio access side.

Instead of having a separate networking technology environment, the goal would be to have this underlying access technology that could cope with all of them. Once we get to a critical mass to scale from a cost and overage perspective that’s when it becomes very powerful.  However, critical mass acceleration and adoption won’t happen overnight.  It takes a while.

 

ReadWrite: What should you expect from your provider and what are the main concerns they should address as a partner?

Samuele: A few things to think about are:

  • Spectrum coverage
  • The types of interference you might encounter in your IoT deployment
  • What capacity is the operator providing
  • What level of security is guaranteed

These are the key parts I would want to ensure with an agreement with a connectivity provider.

Check coverage: check if the service is everywhere for everything you want to connect to. For example, can you get every corner of your factory connected? Is there some kind of connectivity hole? You might need to go and check with the right tools on the field. Interference or poor connectivity will jeopardize your IoT applications. Also, you want to check if the bandwidth you need is available at any time you need them.  If you don’t have a (semi or fully) private network, it means that anyone could be using the some of the uplink capacity you need.

Then, finally, security is extremely important, connectivity as well as every endpoint needs to be secured. You want to avoid data manipulation or loss.

Jason: I’d add the management of the device as well. Can you do diagnostics on it, firmware upgrade, getting information out of it. How that device is managed and how you extra that data from it is also very key.

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Manufacturers Identify New Ways to Succeed in Narrowband IoT

narrowband iot and manufacturers

Rise in demand for low power consuming applications has compelled the leading market players operating in the narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) market to come up with different strategies to mark their presence. Recently, Vodafone announced launch of its narrowband internet of thing network in Sydney and Melbourne.

New Investment Pockets

Vodafone’s network is currently live in Frankston, Victoria. Here, it has been running its NB-IoT trails with Huawei for the past few years. The company aims to expand its network and add more stations to global IoT platform. With launch of NB-IoT products in Australia, the company aims to offer a wide range of products, services, and applications. The expansion of network will lead to more carriers, vendors, utilities, and commercial organizations roll out. In addition, this would harness the benefits of a new way to connect devises.

The use of Vodafone’s NB-IoT labs, such as Düsseldorf in Germany and Newbury in the United Kingdom act as a bridge with companies who are able to experience hands-on time with prototype devices. The broad array of use of the Narrowband IoT also drive its market. The governments show interest in it, owing to its usage in development of smart cities. This is another factor that motivates the leading players to either collaborate or merge with their contemporaries. Here is an instance of Huawei, which has signed an agreement with two other global companies to promote growth of the market in the Middle East.

See AlsoA fine Euro hello to Vodafone’s NarrowBand IoT next year

Middle East Capitalizes its Resources

The collaboration among Nextek Solutions, Quectel, and Huawei will lead to building of Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) solutions to target the needs of regional organizations. The companies were able to grab the opportunity in the region owing to rise in developmental projects for smart cities. The governments have made smart city expansion a key goal in their national agendas. This is leading to the deployment of innovative projects that stand in a context of smart city development worldwide. Moreover, Huawei has developed its Hosting Center, which would serve as a secure platform for operators in the region. Its OpenLab in Dubai provides a platform to the regional partners to test and customize a variety of technologies. This helps them to target the vertical sectors which are most relevant to the Middle East, such as public safety, transportation, smart cities, oil & gas, and education.

Innovative Applications Drive the Demand

Recent innovations in the field of NB- IoT have enabled the customers to keep a track of their luggage, pets, and kids. This feature has been developed by Samsung by the name “Connect tag”. The tag connects with the narrowband internet of thing and is designed to clip onto pet collars, luggage, or children to help users to keep a track of them. The tag is one of many IoT devices that companies are experimenting with in the early days of NB-IoT’s availability.

From the above paragraphs, a conclusion can be drawn that with rise in awareness of wireless technology, the NB IoT market would witness a tremendous growth in the future.

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An Insider’s 11 Take-Aways from Companies Winning Industrial (IIoT) Cybersecurity

iiot according to ge ventures

As you read through blogs and articles about cybersecurity and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), it’s easy to get so focused on the complexities (and there are many), that you lose sight of the big picture. There is huge opportunity in this space—untapped by the existing IT cybersecurity players.

To state it in the simplest terms, when protecting free consumer accounts like, Gmail or Facebook accounts, the motivation for investing in security is driven by certain objectives—protecting customer trust, avoiding an unpleasant hit to the company’s reputation, etc. These are, of course, real and important concerns. But when an industrial company is trying to protect a $ 10 million turbine, the economics of investing in security become very different—and much more straightforward. There’s a reason why much of current security investments are directed towards the industrial space: it’s an enormously promising market—and one where new innovations can have an enormous impact.

GE Ventures, the venture capital subsidiary of General Electric, is one of the organizations that recognizes the large opportunities (and even greater responsibility) to lower costs and eliminate unplanned downtime for their customers. They have been working closely with industrial companies for decades. The company has also built longstanding trust relationships with customers and helps them take advantage of the industrial Internet and protect them from its inherent risks. They are rising to that challenge—their own Predix architecture, a platform that help to optimize industrial business processes, has an extensive security-in-depth strategy.

iiot and ge ventures

In addition to the security-in-depth strategy on their platform, GE Ventures is always on the lookout for startups that are advancing the industrial cybersecurity art. According to them, there are some very talented ones out there. Of course, IIoT is not an easy market to break into for startups. Industrial networks are different than enterprise IT that makes them a terrible place for moonlighting—having a great product roadmap in traditional IT is not a birthright to succeed in industrial cybersecurity. But there are some commonalities among the most successful and promising startups in this space. Here are a few from GE Ventures’ perspective:

1.) They know their stuff.

There are lots of things That GE look at when evaluating a startup: A team with the right specialties. Differentiated technology. But the most important factor separating companies treading water from those already swimming laps is that they are staffed top-to-bottom by people who “get” industrial applications.
The most successful startups have a kind of institutional knowledge of industrial control systems (ICS)—often gleaned from working in industrial in their previous careers. They’ve learned important lessons (sometimes the hard way): They know the market. They understand its constraints. They understand through experience the attack surface and exposure. And they always, always keep their eye on the ball: the business continuity of the customer.

2.) They take the IIoT Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.

No matter what they’re working on, successful IIoT startups never lose sight of their customers’ primary objective: this machine cannot fail. Whatever work they’re doing to secure a system, they know that it absolutely cannot slow down or knock out industrial assets. They create a security layer that’s at least as agile, if not more so, than the devices and systems it’s protecting.

3.) They don’t make things harder for the customer.

Successful IIoT startups know that their target customer has been doing things a certain way for years. They know not to make assumptions that these customers have the same in-house capabilities and institutional knowledge that a non-industrial enterprise would—or, when it comes to software, that they even speak the same language. And they don’t assume that the customer will be willing to fill in gaps that are lost in translation. The most promising IIoT startups are ready to deliver IT solutions to industrial, and they’re not afraid to make it clear that that’s where their expertise lies. But they come out of the gate speaking OT.

4.) They make security integrated.

Successful IIoT startups know that treating security as an additional feature or up-sell will never fly. Their customers expect security to be baked into the product and fully integrated into existing industrial process.

5.) They don’t try to eat the whole cake at once.

Enterprise IT security and IIoT cybersecurity are two totally different animals. You can’t just port something from one world into the other. Yet, there are lessons to be learned from the evolution of enterprise security. Among the biggest that successful IIoT startups adhere to: they don’t try to solve the security problem in one fell swoop.

In the enterprise world, we started with one big problem (protecting digital assets and data), and ultimately broke it down into a whole lot of smaller problems: perimeter security, identity/authentication, data loss prevention, compliance, etc. Smart IIoT startups apply the same thinking to IIoT cybersecurity. They’re not looking to “solve” industrial cybersecurity. They’re attacking smaller, discrete problems and developing useful solutions.

6.) They start with the assumption that they will be targeted.

Even the biggest and best digital companies in the world find malicious or unexplained code in their environments—sometimes threats that have been lying dormant for years. Smart IIoT startups expect that their solutions will be subject to the same types of malicious and/or intelligence gathering threats as well. That doesn’t mean they don’t spend a huge amount of time and effort trying to prevent breaches. But they spend just as much time and effort making sure that, if someone does get in, they can isolate that breach and prevent it from infiltrating the rest of the system. And they recognize that the ICS attack surface extends beyond industrial devices and networks themselves, to all parts of the organization and supply chain.

7.) They’re ready to scale.

Successful IIoT startups never forget that for industrial customers, zero downtime is acceptable. They know that it’s not enough to have great tech—they have to be ready to engage that technology on a scale of thousands of deployments, sometimes in multiple countries—sometimes overnight.

8.) They know that security starts well before connecting a single industrial device.

Successful IIoT startups recognize that some of the most dangerous vulnerabilities aren’t just flaws in their code, but weaknesses in their supply chain. They know that any OEM that incorporates subassemblies made by others can potentially introduce tampered firmware into their system by accident. And they’ve learned the lesson from vendors who had excellent technology but saw deals evaporate because the customer realized they were using an untrusted vendor for one component of the supply chain. Solid IIoT startups take steps to secure their products during every step from building to shipping, when it can be most vulnerable to mistakes or malicious actors.

One of the more interesting areas now being explored: public ledgers. A growing number of companies are looking at Blockchain public ledger technologies to help authenticate assets and provide an audit trail with end-to-end chain of custody. (Industry groups are getting involved too—the Trusted IoT Alliance recently announced a new initiative to promote standard ledgers to authenticate IoT devices.) It’s still very early days, but work like this could prove incredibly valuable for ICS, where many categories of non-IT assets (engines, parts, sub-parts) are connecting back to the IT backbone.

9.) They don’t get distracted by buzz words.

The startup space, or at least the media covering it, tends to be overly sensitive to the hype cycle. Whatever the latest hot concept may be (currently, AI and machine learning), companies rush to make sure they can claim to check those boxes. Successful IIoT startups don’t spend their time worrying about the latest flavor of the month. They’re laser-focused on delivering concrete answers to specific industrial problems.

10.) They understand the need to secure data at rest and in motion.

Industrial customers need solutions not just to secure data at the edge—where more data than ever before is being collected and processed—but also to secure data in motion as it travels to the cloud.

Data in motion poses a particularly cumbersome challenge for industrial systems. Some companies in this space are developing solutions to simplify passthrough of encrypted data, eliminating the need to decrypt data at any point in transit, and its associated risks.

11.) They understand the job is never done.

Good cybersecurity startups recognize that they’ll never be “finished” with their solution, and they don’t get too comfortable with their current design. They understand that real-world cybersecurity means ongoing, indefinite iteration.


This isn’t a comprehensive list. But if you’re charting the course of companies developing interesting new solutions in IIoT cybersecurity, it’s a good place to start.

Authors: Michael Dolbec & Abhishek Shukla, Managing Directors of GE Ventures

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Smart-Enabling Each link in a Next-Gen Supply Chain

supply chain from cloudleaf

Any given supply chain is evolving, fast. Globalization, the “servitization” economy and shifting customer expectations are requiring producers to be more nimble than ever before. Economic sustainability is now the name of the game, and to win it, requires a new approach focusing on stakeholder relationships, end-to-end linked supply-chains, and redefining the context in which performance is measured. And none of this is possible without information and connectivity. That means lots of sensors, measuring lots of variables plus machine-learning, data-lakes and predictive analytics

Supply Chains: Today and Tomorrow

Enterprises are moving away from reactive, forecast-dependent supply-chains. And many have already made the jump. Although asset tracking platforms are good at unlocking efficiencies, cost-value and speed, they provide managers only partial visibility over their ecosystems. This is because hybrid IoT platforms rely on a mix of technologies and are not designed to provide end-to-end coverage, visibility or scale growth. Worse yet, the extraneous data they generate add complexity and cost to the entire chain. This prevents plant managers from gaining actionable insights which results in lower productivity, higher TCO and unhappy customers.

Patrick Dixon, supply chain futurist observed, “The current supply chain model is old-fashioned, restrictive and lacking in innovation. It is time that companies seize the opportunity to reduce costs and increase efficiency by making radical changes to supply chain management through co-operation and collaboration.”

Managing assets across global supply-chains requires a holistic, all-or-nothing approach; cherry-picked upgrades just won’t cut it. It also requires next-gen connectivity that eclipses legacy wireless standards. Yes, Wi-Fi, RFID and GSM/GPS may have their niche, but they were never designed to easily and securely link massive numbers of IoT edge-devices. Complicating things, rising energy prices, globalization, security threats and regulatory pressures (e.g. government mandated reductions in CO2) are causing supply-chain managers to adopt solutions that help them better understand their operations in context with the larger economy, environment and society. End-customer expectations are also evolving. Price is no longer the only factor in their purchasing decisions.

A Broader Approach to Managing Assets Across Value-Chains

Supply-chains are becoming less inward-focused and more customer-centric. A chain that covers customers-to-suppliers that enables managers to factor external market intelligence to be into the equation. And aligning back-office SCM, CRM and ERP systems to accommodate these requirements helps managers to redefine priorities of resources and make better decisions.

John Gattorna, professor of supply chain management at Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Sydney commented, “Companies need to learn from the wider business world and consider the human element of supply.”

The push sale model is over. B2Bs and consumers are now dictating price and how products should be manufactured, sold and supported. Ethical, cultural and health concerns now factor into every purchasing or leasing decision. This is the pull sales model. But sustainability is a broad and complex topic requiring enterprises to implement better systems and measures. MIT Sloan Management Review’s recent article on the subject cited “A Three-Point Approach to Measuring Supply Chain Sustainability” that considers the following three criteria:

  1. Context: Understanding the broader context in which supply-chains exists by a. Gathering metrics across the entire chain, b. Establishing science based goals and, c. Evaluating these results against forecasts.
  2. Collaboration: Building mutually beneficial goal-based relationships with key stakeholders across the entire chain to a. Reduce supply hotspots, b. Build capacity and, c. Use a common analytics platform.
  3. Communication: Ensuring the flow of information across the chain by enabling data messaging and orchestration between stakeholder systems that facilitate incremental improvement and a focus on shared KPIs.

In a recent study by Oracle titledThe Shape of Tomorrow’s Supply Chains”, 36% of the supply professionals polled, thought that collaboration ensures success, ahead of legislation (32%), technology (13%). This means that cross-boundary asset management solutions help enterprises and their stakeholders build sustainable and reciprocal relationships.

Technology to the Rescue (no, really!)

Technology is an enabler. It provides the mechanism to liberate large quantities of data that, aggregated and analyzed, enhances visibility across the chain. And real-time asset tracking solutions are pivotal to enabling stakeholder collaboration. In a study, Oracle cites 48% of those polled as “…wanting predictive software to allow them to calculate the impact of their decision or those of their suppliers” and “…41% express[ing] interest in smart containers or RFID technology that can provide information about the movement of products, or energy usage through a supply pipeline”. This means that enterprises can now justify building collaborative partnerships on their bottom-line.

Quick Look: Automotive

Automotive supply-chains are expanding both in scale and scope. Connected-vehicle telematics, infotainment systems and onboard computers are putting new demands on parts sourcing, manufacturing, assembly and distribution. And with endless things to monitor, measure, and optimize, determining cause and effect is becoming difficult. Sophisticated tools will be needed to measure the effect on resources used across the chain.

Optimizing workflows several orders of separation up and down the chain isn’t easy. OEMs might know the environmental impact of producing a vehicle but what’s the impact of producing each sourced part? Or the ecological impact of generating the energy or supplying the water to produce the component?

Edgar Blanco, executive director at the MIT Centre for Transportation and Logistics points out, “companies could be counting processes in a never-ending chain.”

cloudleaf devices

Cloudleaf Sensor FabricTM allows enterprises to take advantage of powerful cross-boundary visibility, real-time monitoring and granular control of the asset ecosystems across value-chains of people, processes and workflows. The solution uses next-generation RF-agnostic connectivity to link up assets-in-motion. These include patented enterprise-grade IoT-capable endpoints and gateways that form an intelligent mesh of assets that provide position and condition data to cloud analytics. Each Cloudleaf sensor generates a unique digital fingerprint that communicates position, status and condition of each asset in relation to neighboring devices and its operating environment.

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This helps plant managers to easily orchestrate the flow of inventory containers, sub-assemblies and high-value tools across global supply-chains. Secure, scalable, and fully-managed, Sensor Fabric is designed with a zero-implementation footprint, eliminating potential impact on ongoing operations. Customers can literally implement the solution in the AM and be up and running and collecting data in the PM. Cloudleaf Sensor Fabric is not simply about sensors, connectivity and information, it’s about leveraging relationships between partners, suppliers and customers. IoT technologies, methodologies and tools are helping plant managers broaden their access, reach understanding of complex, globally connected supply-chains.

About Cloudleaf:

IoT is top-of-mind for enterprises looking to enable digital business transformation, but IoT has been challenging to use. Cloudleaf is changing the game for IoT by transforming how IoT is deployed and delivered.

Media Contact

Nitesh Arora, Head of Marketing

+1-415-315-9273

nitesh.arora@cloudleaf.io

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