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25 May, 2022 - 15:09 By Tony Quested

Entopy finds a new route to avoid supply chain disruption

Global supply chain disruption costs the average larger businesses £145 million a year. That's why Newmarket-based Entopy is on a mission to harness the latest 'data mesh' technology to streamline the whole process.

Research suggests that businesses with optimal supply chains can halve their inventory holdings, reduce their supply chain costs by 15 per cent and triple the speed of their cash-to-cash cycle.

Yet, despite the hype, the Internet of Things (IoT) has not succeeded in revolutionising supply chain logistics and management. More than 10 billion IoT devices around the world are constantly adding data to already overflowing data stores. Yet global supply chain disruption persists.

According to Entopy CEO Toby Mills, this is because the disruption is not caused by a lack of data – which is why more IoT is not the answer. 

“The real answer lies in creating effective connections between numerous stakeholders performing a range of functions, across multiple enterprise platforms and in different jurisdictions,” said Mills.

This lightbulb moment came for Mills and his team six years after the launch of Entopy. They pivoted away from their original IoT focus in 2020 – and have not looked back. 

They have demonstrated strong growth since – tripling their revenues year on year – and are set to maintain this during 2022, with household names among their clients.

“Achieving visibility in parts of the supply chain that involve goods moving between physical locations and stakeholders is difficult due to the number of independent organisations involved,” said Mills.

“It is comparatively simple to digitise a factory – with everything under one roof and controlled by one organisation. But an entire global supply chain is a very different matter.

“Mobile devices enable single stakeholders to track and monitor outside their respective domains. However, the cost of such devices is prohibitive and they present operational challenges, such as maintenance and retrieval. 

“Over years of analysis, it became clear to us that the data to achieve the granular visibility required was present across the supply chain today. However, data was fragmented across many siloed systems, each owned, operated and controlled by many independent organisations. The real challenge is twofold – how can this data be captured and combined whilst maintaining privacy between the respective organisations; and how can very different data be brought together in a way that can deliver the coherent visibility required?”

New data mesh technology provided the breakthrough. Data mesh is based on distributed architecture for analytical data management and enables end users to easily access and query data where it lives – without first transporting it to a data lake or data warehouse. 

In practice, this means data from multiple supply chain systems can be captured and combined to create a 'digital twin' of a consignment – providing a single data product from which all stakeholders can get the visibility they need.
“Leveraging data across the supply chain enables a much fuller picture to be achieved at a granular level,” said Mills. “Using data from existing systems used in the day-to-day running of the respective organisations means the data is of high quality, can be trusted and the systems are well maintained.”

Intelligent data orchestration is then the secret of success for the supply chain. Just like in a traditional orchestra, a 'conductor' takes centre stage and synchronises all the various data inputs.

Each separate system communicates directly and only to the conductor platform – removing the need for numerous discrete connections and maintaining data integrity. As each digital twin is created, proprietary algorithms define and assign policies to it to ensure only relevant data is captured from each connected system.

Data from order management and transport management systems is combined with more real-time data sources from other systems present across the supply chain. 

For example, consignment and inventory data can be combined with transport schedules and allocated transport. The telematics system of the associated transport vehicle provides real-time location and condition data from the consignment which, when combined with analytics, generates detailed consignment lifecycle records, capturing key events throughout. These events can be communicated across the supply chain, improving communication and paving the way to automation of processes. 

The increasing complexity of supply chains is making optimisation more challenging than ever, while the cost of inefficiencies is growing. But with data mesh and intelligent data orchestration, Entopy has found a new route to unlock supply chain value and deliver competitive advantage.

Entopy is currently recruiting for software developers and data scientists.

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