iSoftStone: Software-defined IoT to Promote Logistics Industrial Upgrading
Logistics is the key link for the efficiency improvement of industry supply chains; the dynamic balance between faster & better distribution and reduced logistics costs has always been the goal of the logistics industry. Currently, AI, logistics robots, automated storage and retrieval system, UAV, unmanned driving & intelligent devices are reshaping the entire logistics industry. In the logistics, both hardware and software are undergoing changes at an unprecedented rate. Recently, Liming Chen, Senior Vice President of iSoftStone Information Technology (Group) Co., Ltd. (iSoftStone), told reporters that Information technologies such as mobile Internet, AI, IoT and big data were penetrating into logistics; the combination of IoT and logistics was beyond imagination. Unmanned distribution, visual logistics, intelligent warehousing and intelligent traceability were rapidly changing the logistics industry, thus providing broad prospects and space for the entire industry.
Equipment Connection through the IoT Platform
IoT, as a hot word, seems to be able to interconnect everything. “The greatest value or commercial value of the IoT lies in its creation of new applications.” Liming Chen said, “iSoftStone is a software solution company; we usually use software to define the IoT. Actually, IoT accommodates much information in addition to the equipment itself, such as attributes, functions, data, location, time, etc. Defining the IoT through software can realize various application scenarios in addition to better implementation of connections such as smart homes, industrial manufacturing and higher commercial value. For example, in the industrial manufacturing, there are a large number of equipment connections. Besides the management and control of equipment connection, what is more important is how to analyze the data collected by the equipment and what kind of value can be generated, which all requires related software.
Equipment connections require specifications, standards, and protocols, but there is no established unified standard at present. "Tencent owns QQ IoT and WeChat hardware platform, Jingdong owns Jingdong WeConnect platform, so do Alibaba and Huawei” Chen said. Take the Smart Home as an example, if manufacturers have respectively platform and protocol, air conditioners from manufacturer A may not be connected to the microwave oven from manufacturer B.
The solution requires to be open. “Everyone can be interconnected through an intermediate platform.” Chen said that iSoftStone as the solution provider "can convert your protocol data through the module into a unified external service, regardless of equipment connected into. Then everyone can do some corresponding applications based on our platform."
Promising Transformation of Logistics Industry
Actually, the IoT application scenarios are extensive, such as smart manufacturing, smart cities, smart homes, smart healthcare and IOV. "In the logistics industry, the obvious decline in logistics costs has been viewed in past few years; and IoT technology has played an important role.” Chen said. Logistics has always been a concern of national welfare and the people's livelihood, and is linked to almost all industries, including new retail whose key link is logistics.
This importance is far more obvious regarding logistics manufacturing industry. For example, the vehicle manufacturing process requires supply chain logistics, followed by finished automobile logistics and intelligent sorting & warehousing upon completion before delivery to customers. "So many links and scenarios require numerous suppliers about express delivery, the Last Mile, city-wide distribution and trunk movement." Chen further remarked that all required IoT technology for upgrading and transformation. "For example, today's intelligent sorting robots, driverless cars, UAV in the transportation and other IoT equipment are already widely used, with a promising future."
Besides the IoT technology, the application of logistics scenarios requires a strong AI hub. "For example, the route planning of transportation industry may be intelligently made through Big Data, AI brain." Chen said that if the goods were to be transported from Shanxi to Xinjiang, railway, highway or by air? An intelligent allocation algorithm is required that further requires the logistics command center to use it for dispatching or intelligent allocation. "It is still at the early stage, and these new technologies and new economies will be more valuable in the future."
Creating a Software Ecosystem as a Solution Provider
Since its rising in 2009, IoT has witnessed the emergence of tens of thousands of IoT enterprises; most of which closed down before becoming the BAT and GAF. “iSoftStone is advantaged by its operation experience of technology and large projects. The upstream partners of iSoftStone include Huawei and BAT, with many intelligent hardware providers as downstream partners. This positioning allows us to gradually become a system integration solution provider through software ecosystem." Chen said.
Laying out the IoT and logistics for many years, iSoftStone has established a logistics capability center and a specialized IoT research institute in Shenzhen. “Shenzhen is a good choice due to its highest IoT talents concentration and the shortest supply chain.” Chen said, “From our upstream and downstream partners, we have chip manufacturers like Huawei in the upstream in Shenzhen and numerous intelligent hardware companies in the downstream, which provides best innate conditions for to find partners and conduct business."
Except Shenzhen Western Logistics Park and other projects, major projects regarding iSoftStone logistics business are located in the inland cities such as Shanxi Hunan. "The demand for transforming the logistics chain in the Mainland is greater, and Shenzhen Logistics has advanced relatively earlier. The industry already has a higher informatization. These experiences and models in Shenzhen can be a reference for inland cities to meet the current demands of mainland market.” Chen said "For the logistics industry in the next decade, the IoT, AI and Big Data will completely transform the industry, and its application is promising. What we are doing is the logistics solutions for the next generation that are based on IoT and other new technologies.