Internet of Business catches up with Brian Tessier, VP of global supply chain innovation and executive director of the Schneider Electric Center of Digital Innovation (CODI) Laboratory, to discuss how the Internet of Things, Blockchain and other emerging technologies are changing the supply chain industry.
IoB: Your role involves testing new technologies and how these can be applied in Schneider Electric’s supply chain processes. Can you tell us a bit about what the role involves and why the company has an independent department to look into this?
Tessier: “We created the Office of Supply Chain Innovation underneath the Global Supply Chain Transformation organization last year to radically change how our business looks at innovation as related to Supply Chain.
“Schneider is a very technical business which possesses some of the best engineering resources on the planet, but we suffer from a common malady of our industry: the “Not Invented Here” or NIH syndrome.
“This general orientation has predisposed us to eschew many emerging technologies that might positively impact how we operate.
“My role is to change our Supply Chain from being hung up on NIH, to embracing the concept of “Proudly Found Elsewhere” (PFE) through the use of open innovation methods as demonstrated by rapid proof of concept development on a wide range of topics.”
What technologies have you tested so far and what are the applications?
“The current program portfolio includes technologies like Blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, collaborative robotics, cognitive computing and machine learning, and the industrial internet of things.
“By taking a technology-forward approach to business problems, we’re breaking new ground at a much faster pace than we have historically.
“One good example is our LiveShip program. We combined a commercial off the shelf sensor telematics GPS tracking solution with the cognitive computing capabilities of IBM’s Watson to enable the solution to begin predicting damage in transit events and to take steps to resolve the situation before a customer ever knows a problem occurred.
“This proof of concept was developed and field tested in 90 days and is now staging for global deployment.”
What is the project that gets you most excited and why?
“I’m currently on the steering committee of the Supply Chain Insights (http://supplychaininsights.com/) Network of Networks program. This project is poised to revolutionize how businesses communicate with one another and to remove friction from many of the Supply Chain operations that cause lack of agility and performance at the speed of the businesses we serve.
“We’re currently developing a proof of concept using Blockchain, Online Community Repositories (think D&B for Supply Chain), and other technologies to streamline the process of new supplier onboarding. The business users are being joined by the best of the best technology providers to collectively reimagine how we work together. I’m extremely excited to be part of the team and I welcome any interested parties to join us on this initiative.
Is there any technology you aren’t using in a pilot which you think could have some use in the supply chain?
“Right now, I don’t have any programs in my portfolio that are focused on the Circular Supply Chain, and this is an area that is very visible in our leadership’s hoshin for 2017.
“Schneider has a long and well recognized track record for being among the most sustainable businesses in the world, but new developments in material science are enabling us to reconsider how we pack and handle materials throughout the entire value chain. This would be great for us, our customers, and the planet. I plan on working on some programs of this nature with our partners in the second half of the year.”
Can you give us a snapshot of what your talk at the Internet of Supply Chain will involve?
I plan to talk about how Supply Chain Innovation works at Schneider, as well as an overview of several programs in the portfolio that are applicable to Supply Chain practitioners. I’m looking to meet and network with fellow Supply Chain practitioners in the hopes of uncovering opportunities for collaboration.