Posts Tagged ‘supply chain’

The Supply Chain Is One Big Graph In Start-up Elementum’s Platform

rsz_elementum_transport_appStartup Elementum wants to take supply chains into the 21st century. Incubated at Flextronics, the second largest contract manufacturer in the world, and launching today with $44 million in Series B funding from that company and Lightspeed Ventures, its approach is to get supply chain participants – the OEMs that generate product ideas and designs, the contract manufacturers who build to those specs, the component makers who supply the ingredients to make the product, the various logistics hubs to move finished product to market, and the retail customer – to drop the one-off relational database integrations and instead see the supply chain fundamentally as a complex graph or web of connections.

“It’s no different thematically from how Facebook thinks of its social network or how LinkedIn thinks of what it calls the economic graph,” says Tyler Ziemann, head of growth at Elementum. Built on Amazon Web Services, Elementum’s “mobile-first” apps for real-time visibility, shipment tracking and carrier management, risk monitoring and mitigation, and order collaboration have a back-end built to consume and make sense of both structured and unstructured data on-the-fly, based on a real-time Java, MongoDB NoSQL document database to scale in a simple and less expensive way across a global supply chain that fundamentally involves many trillions of records, and flexible schema graph database to store and map the nodes and edges of the supply chain graph.

“Relational database systems can’t scale to support the types of data volumes we need and the flexibility that is required for modeling the supply chain as a graph,” Ziemann says.

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Semanticize The Supply Chain

Turns out that supply chains need the Semantic Web, too. The iCargo project, co-funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission, was formally launched last year to help make global logistics across multiple modes of transport more sustainable, both in terms of lowered costs and greater energy efficiency.

The project is composed of multiple components, including technical tasks where semantic interoperability plays a key role in the goal of developing an open information architecture that lets real-world objects, existing systems and new apps to better cooperate with each other. Things have progressed to the point where the semantic capabilities it’s developed are to be included in prototypes debuting in May.

“Enabling interoperable supply chains could provide us better intermodal door-to-door services, and semantic technologies will provide the interoperability between services,” says Germán Herrero Cárcel, head of sector, Full Electric Vehicle & Supply Chain Sector, MRS Market, Research & Innovation at international IT services company Atos, which is coordinating the iCargo consortium of 29 organizations with experience in the field of logistics, supply chain management and ICT.

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Semantic Web Site Hopes To Break Down Trade Barriers

Can semantic web technology help make business interactions among buyers and suppliers – around the corner or around the world – more transparent and lead to better communications, even across language barriers? A new project coming out of Poland hopes to make that case. Dubbed the Momoway Business Searcher, available as a beta service here, has as its goal providing a one-stop shop for business and trade, by easing communication and B2B contacts between manufacturers and buyers. Thought up by Momoway lead software developer Karol Balejko and co-financed by European Union funds, the site gathers business information – data about products, services, and trade fairs – into one spot, from which buyers can search for what they need from thousands of suppliers across the world. 

There are other online trade platforms out there, of course, but as Balejko says in an email exchange with the Semantic Web Blog, they present some obstacles because of narrow parameters or language restrictions. For starters, “most trade platforms today have products listed according to preset categories instead of letting suppliers themselves choose exactly which words they want to use to describe their products,” explains Balejko, who also is a software architect, Java expert and Grails developer. “Suppliers listing their categories on Momoway are not only able to add words if needed, they can also use as many tags as they want to describe their products. This does not necessarily lead to lower costs, but it certainly simplifies the ordering process for purchasing departments because they are able to find exactly what they need – quickly and efficiently.” People listing their products are not limited by the short-comings of having to place their products into categories that aren’t “quite right,” he says – that practice leads to their product possibly not getting a fair description, and so becoming harder to find by potential buyers out there.

One of the problems with non-semantic search engines is that they do not register, index or link the semantics in phrases. There are too many combinations – millions – so that’s why they’re often just lumped into categories instead of analyzing words that go together – or, for example, synonyms,” he says. As an example, semantic searches should recognize that ‘friendly, favorable, and well-disposed’ should be placed in the same search results, because the adjective has the same meaning.

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