May 23, 2017

Jabil launches decision-support tool

Jabil launches decision-support tool

InControl platform offers choice of five modules to improve supply chain visibility, collaboration, risk management, and diagnostics.

By Ben Ames

Electronics design and product management company Jabil Circuit Inc. said today it has launched a platform that allows users to collect supply chain data in a single, cloud-based hub and then apply different algorithms to improve their efficiency.

The "InControl Supply Chain SaaS Decision Support" platform can help users improve business outcomes by cutting inventory and time to market while reducing product lead times and costs, Jabil says. The software-as-a-service (SaaS) product will be available beginning in the third quarter, and the consulting firm PwC will provide managed services and training for customers.

The system works by consolidating data from sources such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), warehouse management system (WMS), and transportation management system (TMS) software products, as well as third-party content such as weather and mapping information.

Users can then look for patterns in that data by deploying up to five different modules that apply analytics and machine learning tools, according to Jabil. The five application modules include:

  • supply chain visibility,
  • event risk,
  • design for supply chain,
  • risk management, and
  • supply chain diagnostics.

Jabil said it plans to develop additional applications at a later date.

Jabil created the system as an in-house "intelligent control" platform designed to identify cost savings in its own supply chain, Ross Valentine, Jabil's senior director for the intelligent digital supply chain, said in an interview. It has now packaged the software as a stand-alone commercial product, Valentine said.

"When you unwrap this from the box, it's like unwrapping a supply chain expert and a data scientist who can do all the background work and then hand you a checklist saying 'Here are the things you need to do this week,' " Valentine said.

The system is designed to examine the broad impact of strategic and operational decision-making, instead of suggesting "point solutions" that might have different impacts on each department in the company, Valentine said. "We bring it all together in one place, because it's so easy to make supply chain difficult when you put demand numbers in front of some people, supply numbers in front of other people, shortage numbers in front of other people, and location information in front of other people," he said.

This is Jabil's latest attempt to launch a product that brings digital analysis to the supply chain. In April, the company teamed with SAP SE, UPS Inc., and HP Inc. to create a three-dimensional printing service known as "distributed manufacturing."

About the Author

Ben Ames
Senior Editor
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

More articles by Ben Ames

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