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Exposing customer behaviour through IoT supply chains

Posted: 06 May 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:customer behaviour? supply chain? IoT? Pitney Bowes?

They didn't talk about how the data from billions of devices would support analytics or radio frequency identification (RFID) at companies such as Wal-Mart Stores and Target that tracked the movement of goods from manufacturing facilities through distribution centres, warehouses, and on to retail store floors.

They didn't think about Coca-Cola's move to collect data from Internet-connected vending machines to help the company learn more about its customers, or help with forecasting products (such as Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite and Vitamin Water) per location. They also didn't think about the ability for Pitney Bowes to keep replacement parts on hand to fix broken automated mail machines.


Figure 1: Coca-Cola collects data from Internet-connected vending machines to help the company learn more about its customers.

These companies closer to the customer have already begun to use IoT data to streamline their supply chain. In fact Coca-Cola collects more than 100 points of data daily through its vending machines. Derek Myers, group director, strategy and commercialisation, Coca-Cola North America, at OMMA SXSW (South By Southwest) told attendees that this spring it will roll out a loyalty programme as part of a cashless payment system integrated into a mobile phone's native platform such as location services, Bluetooth and power management apps that run behind the scenes.

Although mindboggling to think, Myers said someone completes a transaction on a Coca-Cola vending machine more than 100 times per second. Each payment through Apple Wallet or Android Pay will identify the consumer, type of drink purchased, and location of the machine. In addition to getting to know its customers better, Coca-Cola will use the data to improve its supply chain.

Other industries have already begun to tie in IoT data to run their supply chain more efficiently. Pitney Bowes, the global company founded in 1920, created a method to pull in data from thousands of production mail machines located at individual corporations worldwide. The platform, Clarity, analyses the data in real-time via the Internet, allowing project leaders at banks, telecom carriers and other large corporations to manage machines and processes that produce and send physical mail.

Pitney Bowes processes the data and sends it back to their client, allowing them to gain view into how their entire production floor runs in real-time, how they compare to industry benchmarks, and where they can make improvements.

How is data going to inform and change the electronics supply chain?

- Laurie Sullivan

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