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Supply Chain 2013: Stop playing whack-a-mole with security threats.

Supply chain 2013: Stop playing whack-a-mole with security threats

As supply chain threats grow ever more sophisticated, companies tap new technologies to protect their assets and deliver the goods.

By: Howard Baldwin (Computerworld (US))

It's a small data challenge, but to get to the small data, you have to go through the big data. Nathan Johnson, Ports America

In addition to potentially smoothing out the supply chain at the beginning of the process, analytics technology can also help later in the process. Ranjit Thaker is CIO of Broomfield, Colo.-based Network Global Logistics, a third-party logistics (3PL) provider specializing in time-critical deliveries and aftermarket service support for the healthcare industry. "The supply chain challenges are totally different when you're a manufacturer getting supplies to a retailer versus getting an organ to the hospital when someone is being prepped for surgery."

Thaker cites the example of one client, a manufacturer whose medical devices cost six to seven figures each. "There's a high level of analytics involved in calculating where you need to warehouse replacement parts for those devices," he says. In order to avoid warehousing expensive parts that may be used infrequently, NGL's analytics involves mapping the physical location of manufacturers' warehouses, the ages of the machines at the medical facilities, the mean time between failure (MBTF) of those machines, the criticality of the parts and the cost of getting equipment to locations.

"It's complicated, because the parts may be critical but they cost thousands of dollars and may only have been needed ten times in the past five years," Thaker explains. "Doing the analytics helps them optimize their inventory."

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