In a world struggling to recover from COVID-19, intelligent technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) are transforming supply chain logistics and quality assurance for groundbreaking innovations. Indian-based startup Tagbox has developed a cloud solution that dynamically tracks shipments on the move.
IoT-based sensors capture the temperature and other critical parameters of products in real time, using machine learning and AI algorithms to automatically send alerts about risk anomalies so people can take corrective action and head off damages.
“Our vision is to make supply chains more holistically intelligent for greater reliability and resiliency,” said Adarsh Kumar, co-founder and CEO of Tagbox. “Organizations have full visibility into shipment risks like shocks, temperature changes, tampering, or pilferage at any point along the supply chain. Our technology shares that data to the cloud, sends shipment risk alerts to relevant stakeholders, and logs data into the ERP system. People can immediately see when something’s gone wrong and take fast action.”
Most Tagbox customers are located in India, but the startup is gaining traction with organizations in other parts of Asia-Pacific, including Singapore.
Automated Triggers for Quality Control
Traditional supply chain quality management was typically one dimensional and tracked shipment risk post-delivery. In contrast, Tagbox’s technology monitors products at every step of the journey with small battery-powered sensors attached to product packaging by individual SKU, box, or pallet. Hosted on SAP Business Technology Platform, the tool uses SAP Internet of Things (SAP IoT) and is integrated with SAP ERP. Data sharing includes product or order information with designated employees in order management, transportation and logistics, quality parameters, warehouse and inventory metrics, and first to last mile delivery.
For example, after downloading a mobile app, a delivery person driving a refrigerated truck transporting medication would be alerted to temperature changes in the vehicle and receive recommended actions to prevent spoilage.
“People can immediately intervene when they’re notified of a temperature change or other risk, while managers can spot systemic issues and address those,” said Kumar. “Reports reveal patterns, such as where temperature excursions happen regularly. The company may decide to improve product packaging or select different transportation routes.”
One pharmaceutical customer saved thousands of dollars by reducing post-delivery assessment times by up to 72 hours. Having collected real-time data throughout the shipping process, the company eliminated time-consuming reports after delivery.
Business Growth from SAP Partnership
Kumar credited his company’s recent growth partly to his team’s experience at SAP Startup Studio, an accelerator program at SAP Labs India for early- and growth-stage tech startups.
“Our IoT sensors collect and send data to supply chain, SAP IoT, and other SAP ERP systems that provide the business context for product shipments and locations, making this an ideal partnership,” he said. “We’ve accelerated our time-to-market because SAP experts have provided us with industry-specific opportunity guidance and introductions to a wide range of SAP customers.”
Data Fuels Insights to Action
While pharmaceutical companies are obvious candidates for fully traceable quality control of vaccine and other medicine cold chains, numerous industries can also benefit from real-time insights. These include food and beverage companies and consumer electronics. One e-commerce grocery company using Tagbox improved its cold chain temperature compliance while reducing missing inventory rates by 20%.
“They have end-to-end traceability of real-time temperatures for products like meats and dairy products from warehouse to consumer,” said Kumar. “They can track what percentage of orders were delivered at the right temperatures, cascading to employee performance metrics and training, as well as infrastructure and other supply chain decisions.”
Appliance, home electronic, and glass manufacturers have also found benefits from Tagbox when it comes to product damage prevention during transport.
“Any combination of factors can damage fragile goods on the road, whether it’s bad driving and accidents or because products weren’t packaged or loaded properly,” said Kumar. “With our sensors, companies can see precisely what kind of shock happened and when it occurred. Our algorithms translate the data into meaningful metrics such as if the product was in freefall, turned upside down, tilted, or unsecured. In the moment, they can repack the item, adjust the temperature, and keep going without damage.”
Turning Data into Business Value
Kumar, Saumitra Singh, and Sameer Singh co-founded Tagbox, drawing from 25 years of collective experience in IoT, data analytics, AI, and integrated circuit and chip design.
“We realized that despite all the talk about IoT as a data generator, there wasn’t enough focus on using that data for concrete business decisions,” he said. “We wanted to tackle supply chain inefficiencies and product quality control for high-value, fragile goods traveling across cold chains. There are so many diversification opportunities in B2B operations using IoT and machine learning.”
Kumar said future international expansion plans for Tagbox included the United States, providing dynamic intelligence for supply chains worldwide, long after the pandemic recedes.
Follow me: @smgaler.
This story originally appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.