Solutions Built by the Team at Lab651
Just In Time Supply Chain Done Right
Just-In-Time (JIT) supply chain is nothing new. It is a simple idea but one that is essential in modern supply chain management. JIT aims to cut costs by reducing the amount of goods and materials that a firm holds in stock. One of the most critical, fundamental, and costly aspects to JIT is knowing real-time inventory levels. So when a large chemical company needed to automate its supply chain in a JIT fashion, it called on Lab651.
The client company has tanks of its products scattered all over the world. These tanks are either fixed or mobile and are usually in remote areas used for oil production. In order to provide its "chemicals as a service," the company needed to know the tank levels and conditions of the chemicals in real-time fashion.
Engineers at Lab651 designed a device/system that could ride on a variety of tanks. We used sonar technology to measure the level of chemicals in a tank, GPS to know the location, and a myriad of other sensors to measure environmental conditions of the product itself. The data is all sent to the cloud via cellular or satellite transmission.
Automating this process reduced truck rolls to evaluate tanks, provide a more accurate reading of levels, and predict the quality of the product once needed. Another added benefit was less work for the client’s customers and employees who were manually measuring the levels using sound… leading to product and brand loyalty.
Building an Industrial Grade Smart Level Sensing Application
Implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERPsystem is an expensive proposition, as it should be because an ERP solution typically manages all critical and commercial functions of a business. Automation between processes enables data sharing and enhanced visibility to make better and efficient business decisions. Another form of ERP automation involves the incorporation of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The agriculture industry faces many supply-chain challenges. Real-time visibility on the condition, quality, and quantity in silos is at the top of that list. Today, keeping track of those variables is mostly a manual effort, which risks human error and injury. So, when a large ERP vendor needed to give its agricultural clients better visibility into their supply chain, the company called on Lab651 to develop and integrate IoT technology with its platform.
Lab651 developed a unique level-sensing technology that gives the ERP’s agricultural clients complete visibility into their products in silos. The sensor incorporates a highly accurate (cm accuracy) radar range finder that can scan the undulating levels of products in bins and silos, calculate levels or volumes, and put that real-time data into the ERP system through the cellular network—in other words, automating ERP through IoT.
The vendor’s agricultural clients are now seeing greater inventory accuracy while simultaneously reducing human capital risk. The company is providing real-time environmental conditions that lead to less spoilage. Its clients are seeing improved vendor managed inventory replenishment and improved capacity planning. These are all value-added services made possible through real-time data visibility for the ERP vendor, leading to additional license sales.
Helping an Old Company Rethink Their Service Model
Manufacturers and suppliers of commodities are trying to establish a direct link to consumers and to strengthen their competitive position. The emerging concept known as product as a service (PaaS) transforms a product from a standalone function from a supplier to an integrated product and service offering. Examples of PaaS include a manufacturer using widely available wireless and Internet connectivity to outfit their products with sensors to better understand how their products are being used in the field. A commodities and agricultural giant turned to Lab651 to help create that direct link to turn its ordinary commodities business into a service business. In other words, being able to monitor its commodities at client sites to replenish or replace them in a timely fashion.
Lab651 created a sensor-based solution that was able to monitor our client’s commodity at its customer sites. The technology is based on a radar range finder tied to data acquisition with a cellular backhaul that reported the level information at clients’ large storage bins and silos.
Our client was able to convert its normal supply-chain process of ordering “when needed” into a fully automated just-in-time replenishment system. They are able to monitor their client’s usage and have better capacity planning from harvesting to shipping to the customer. Their customers never run out of product, which instills customer retention and bolsters the company’s competitive position.
Let's Help You Capture and Leverage Data
We help you decrease costs, open new revenue streams, and improve the experience with their customers. By developing devices and software, that generate data we make new things possible.
Drop us a note from our contact page or call us at: 651.300.4868