July 24, 2017

SAP adds track and trace analysis to IoT platform

Leonardo platform now features supply chain visibility command center called IoT Bridge.

By Ben Ames

German software giant SAP SE has added additional tools to its "Leonardo" Internet of Things (IoT) platform, including a global track and trace offering that the company says will support shipment monitoring and reporting across supply chain networks.

SAP, which unveiled its Leonardo platform in May, has said the cloud-based IoT product would handle the flood of data generated by sensors distributed throughout factories, warehouses, and transportation modes by applying powerful tools like machine learning, big data, analytics, and blockchain.

The company said it is adding five capabilities to that platform, including the global track and trace tool and a visibility command center called the IoT Bridge; real-time sensor processing software called IoT Edge; a process optimization tool called Digital Manufacturing Insights; and a mobile maintenance app called Asset Manager.

IoT Bridge acts as a the central command center for the collection of products, Markus Rosemann, SAP's vice president line of business solution management and head of supply chain execution, said in an interview. The IoT Bridge is intended to collect data across various systems, processes, and partners. This enables operations workers to see where shipments are in transit, the contents of each shipment, and the condition and performance of the vehicles carrying that shipment, according to SAP.

Using precise supply chain visibility, the Leonardo platform is able to deliver more than traditional planning and execution software platforms, adding capabilities such as business planning, response orchestration, product innovation, digital operations oversight, and asset and maintenance control, Rosemann said.

"The most frequently asked question we get in logistics today is 'Where's my stuff and what's the status of it?' but traditional logistics networks don't allow [people] to get answers to that," Rosemann said. "But combine that traditional network with the Internet of Things, and you can get lots of sensor data—like temperature, vibration, telemetry, and geo-location—that can be linked to business processes. That combination is dramatically changing track and trace."

The biggest change users will see is that Leonardo can generate suggested responses to supply chain challenges, or even trigger automated actions, Rosemann said. The platform does this by applying data analytics and machine learning tools to information about basic milestones, such as shipping and arrival times, he said.

The Leonardo platform is open to partners of any size throughout the shipping, distribution, and warehousing environments, Rosemann said. For example, a big pharmaceutical firm could use the full data analytics package to send a new shipment if rising temperatures affected the shelf life of drugs in transit. And at the same time, a single farmer could simply use a web-based portal to monitor just the deadlines and health regulations in a "farm to fork" food-tracing scenario.

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.

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