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AUGUST 2021 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 39 ply chain from knowing demand, inventory locations and levels, and shipment progress more precisely. IIoT in the Supply Chain Adding IIoT into your supply chain can be more of a challenge than adding devices to in- plant networks. is is plowing new ground as there isn't a history and infrastructure for reporting to work from; there are no existing networks and systems to add to; the devices will be installed and operating in locations out- side of the plant/warehouse where there is lit- tle or no control. at said, the points made in the previous blog relative to in-plant IIoT apply here too: • Scope: One of the biggest factors in failure to complete a project successfully is the phenomenon commonly known as "scope creep." Lay out a plan and stay focused— don't be distracted by additional opportu- nities that come into view. Save them for phase II. • Existing systems and networks: While the interfaces to existing systems are still required and present challenges, it is a dif- ferent situation with supply chain data. Activity reports can usually be brought in through open interfaces incorporated in most systems, so that part should be rela- tively straightforward. e bigger issue is having soware that can truly use the data. Modern supply chain systems—includ- ing inventory optimization, demand plan- ning, analytics, etc.—thrive on near-real- time data and the ability to apply advanced algorithms, simulation, and machine learn- ing to plan and manage supply chains. • Technical issues: With supply chain IIoT, the biggest technical issues are communi- cations (oen relying primarily on cellu- lar data communications) and security. As with internal data, carefully choose sup- pliers, protocols, and security that will serve your needs today and have the best prospects for moving with you into the future as your needs grow and technology evolves. Nobody can predict with any level of certainty how technology will change so choosing technologies and protocols is less important than choosing partners (suppli- ers) that show a commitment to keeping their products up to date, providing out- standing customer service and support, and have the financial strength and sta- bility to succeed in their markets over the long term. • e people side: Your organization may be new to the abovementioned supply chain systems and their value is so apparent that user resistance should be minimal, but even so, don't neglect the need for education and training. No mat- ter how "intuitive" or "user friendly" a sys- tem is purported to be, users will need an understanding of what the systems do and how. ey will need to know what they are seeing and just what the systems are telling them in order to trust them and put them to effective use. Involve the users early on as the systems are initially envisioned and planned. Encourage a feeling of ownership among the user community so they will be invested in the systems' success. Modern supply chains in today's global, highly competitive markets are complex and dynamic. e systems that have been devel- oped to plan and manage these supply chains rely heavily, as all systems do, on data that is as accurate and timely as possible. IIoT helps gather and manage that data so IIoT has become a big component of supply chain man- agement. SMT007 Dave Turbide is an independent consultant, educator and freelance writer serving both the developers and users of software and systems for manufacturers.

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