Doug Lawson, Founder &CEOThe Internet of Things (IoT) promises to make it easy and cost effective for manufacturing companies to install new sensors and record almost all physical activity in a supply chain. But the technical challenge to make business sense of this new and old sensor data has led to a lot of time and effort without corresponding results. A startup software company, ThinkIQ, is successfully changing this by enabling manufacturers to save millions of dollars in their supply chains while making better, more competitive, and safer products.
Smart, socially-connected customers expect a different level of insight into the products they buy. They expect to be able to match products to their exact preferences and are demanding a closer relationship with manufacturers under normal and abnormal conditions. Traceability, transparency, and provenance are paramount to address these needs. For instance, a person with celiac disease looks for gluten-free food while some consumers are inclined toward local sustainable products. As a result, it is becoming mandatory for companies to guarantee the authenticity of the claimed characteristics of their products regardless of where they fit in the supply chain.
Until recently, it was onerous and expensive to collect and share traceability data. ThinkIQ provides a software platform that leverages the power of big data analytics and delivers accurate traceability information for entire manufacturing processes. The platform monitors data in real time and automatically builds a granular, accurate, and trustable genealogy, cost-effectively and with minimal operator burden.
The beauty of ThinkIQ’s approach to traceability data is that it also provides the foundation for a broad range of analytics that can fundamentally improve the economics of any supply chain. Businesses have a lot to gain from the genealogy and traceability data that ThinkIQ provides. Manufacturers can now see data about physical processes, the quality attributes of materials, and related business transactions in a single place that is clear and approachable. Sensor data can help these companies keep a track of their manufacturing processes, and in turn, increase operational efficiencies, reduce costs, and boost revenues.
Furthermore, machine-learning and pattern recognition help detect anomalies in the processes for immediate alerting and resolution, and can even predict and prevent failures.
ThinkIQ’s approach to traceability data provides the foundation for a broad range of analytics that can fundamentally improve the economics of any supply chain
“We accumulate data about each and every incoming material into a company’s supply chain along with the information from ERP systems to predict how the physical processes should be,” adds Doug Lawson, founder and CEO of ThinkIQ. Any kind of deviation from the expected results is an indicator of a potential problem whose exact nature and cause is deduced by using smart analytics. For example, ThinkIQ’s platform has enabled a large international producer of onion rings to find and resolve the root cause of a production issue, which has increased its production yield from 42 to 54 percent, generating millions of dollars of improved profitability annually.
The effectiveness of ThinkIQ’s solution can be further understood by how it assisted General Mills—a manufacturer of branded consumer foods—in detecting a critical supply chain problem. General Mills had changed all their Cheerios products to gluten-free a couple of years ago but had to recall 2.2 million boxes of Cheerios in October 2015 that were found to include gluten. General Mills now deploys ThinkIQ’s solutions to ensure the smooth functioning of the entire Cheerios manufacturing process. ThinkIQ’s platform has demonstrated its ability to identify and prevent these types of recalls in addition to operational analytics reducing expenses by $30M in 2017.
“The generic nature of our cloud-based software, coupled with the consulting that our go-to-market partners provide allows us to solve all kinds of problems across various industries,” states Lawson. Being a venture-backed company, ThinkIQ now looks forward to expanding the scope of its platform’s capabilities along with expanding to other manufacturing segments.