Supply Chain Matters brings visibility to another innovative technology start-up targeting item-level tracking and monitoring process needs.

Tive, Inc. is a Boston area start-up offering a combination sensor hardware and Cloud-based software capability that can leverage Internet of Things (IoT) technology for both item-level tracking and environmental monitoring. The company marketing persona is: “Living in a real-time world.” In essence, this provider allows supply chain teams the ability to track and analyze both location and environmental conditions of shipments.

In late June, Tive announced the latest update to its proprietary low-power multi-sensor tracking device that leverages cellular connectivity to provide monitoring of the location, climate, and integrity level of shipments. The tracker itself is attached to an individual shipment and can later be returned with custom provided packaging. The accompanying software platform allows teams to establish custom alerts relative to temperature deviations, geofences or ETA warnings, as-well as to perform post shipment analysis of the end-to-end shipment. This tech provider has also incorporated open API’s to allow teams to pull important data into external supply chain management or ERP systems to gain further insights relative to supply chain movements.

This analyst had the opportunity to speak with Tive CRO and Co-Founder Rob Stevens. I have known Rob from his prior tenure at warehouse robotics technology provider Kiva Systems. Readers will likely recall that Amazon acquired Kiva several year’s ago and that company’s robotics technology now permeates Amazon’s global customer fulfillment and warehouse operations.

Rob and I touched upon industries such as pharmaceutical and drug, that literally know little about the state of their shipments when goods leave the building for transit to distributors or end-customers. While carriers obviously have visibility to some in-transit data, the sharing of Tive Trackersuch data with the shipper on a real-time basis is prohibitive. Tive’s latest released sensor resembles a smartphone-like physical presence and has now been augmented with Wi-Fi and cellular to existing available GPS and cell tower systems. The recent addition of Wi-Fi detection with other onboard connectivity improves the ability to sense location more accurately. In cases where connectivity cannot be readily established, the device stores environmental data readings and re-transmits when connectivity is re-established.

Further noted was that the biggest challenge in tracking devices has been on-board battery life. Rob indicates that he latest upgrade to the tracker device can garner upwards of six months of battery life with proper configuration of data transmissions. Newer beta trackers have the potential of even more battery life.

Customer’s sign-on with a subscription-based pricing model that includes either monthly or annual rental of trackers, all cellular charges, and unlimited use of Tive’s Cloud-based system platform. The listing of current customers is somewhat impressive, and to little surprise includes companies that ship fairly high-value products. The newest tracker is now available to beta customers.

I posed the question of customer concerns related to the security of the data tracked. Rob confirmed that this question does come-up in evaluation sessions and from the viewpoint pf Tive, current public networks provide adequate encryption of data security handled in their networks.

Over these past months, through the medium of Supply Chain Matters, we have provided readers visibility to what we believe are innovative approaches to item-level tracking and broader end-to-end visibility of physical goods. We do so because this is area with an attractive business benefit opportunity for multi-industry supply chain teams. We further encourage teams to take a broader perspective to IoT enabled tracking, to include not only physical and environmental tracking, but also the ability to leverage an item tracker’s on-board memory and connectivity for either the identification of important or high-value assets, the authenticity or genealogy of a specific product, or the ability to have greater visibility to the reverse supply chain movement of high-value parts in maintenance or upgrade needs.  The integration of such capabilities is getting closer with the presence of more innovative providers and tech-enhanced physical devices.

 

Bob Ferrari

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