Midsize firms are streamlining their supply chains as a key component of the drive toward smarter commerce, but the specialized supercomputer processing needed to solve complex supply chain puzzles is too costly and specialized for many firms to invest in directly. This means that the businesses that could benefit most from this technology have not had access to it.
Help is on the way, however, as the industry explores new ways to deliver high-powered computing (HPC) capability to midsize IT. One approach is cloud delivery; another, being explored by an Ohio-based center, is an app store for supercomputing simulation tools, which can perform tasks ranging from making trucks more fuel efficient to improving dispatching for those trucks.
On the Road to Supply Chain Optimization
As Patrick Thibodeau reported at InfoWorld, famed household products firm Procter & Gamble faced a problem when it set out to improve its supply chain efficiency. Supercomputer resources could be used to identify supply chain improvements, but the traditional model for providing supercomputing applications is both costly and specialized.
In response, Procter & Gamble is now backing a new initiative by the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), called AweSim, to provide apps built around well-established supercomputer tasks. Firms can then buy the relevant app and apply it to their specific needs. For example, performing wind tunnel tests of low–wind resistance components to improve the fuel efficiency of trucks might cost $200,000. A traditional license to simulate the test on a supercomputer might cost $50,000 whereas the cost of running the simulation as an app could be less than $1,000.
Midsize IT at the Head of the Line
AweSim and other supercomputing innovations, such as providing cognitive computing from the cloud, will be of particular advantage to the IT community at midsize firms. IT managers and professionals at these firms have been in the frustrating position of possessing the savvy to appreciate how supercomputers could help to improve their bottom line but lacking the resources to apply the technology.
As new delivery methods make HPC more available and affordable, midsize IT will play a critical — and growing — role in tapping into this capability and making it available to the firm to solve business problems. Indeed, as routine IT operations are increasingly offloaded to specialist providers, supporting more company-specific needs will become a major creative role for midsize IT. Managers and IT professionals at growing firms have an inherent advantage because they are always in close contact with the rest of the business; this is a connectedness that large enterprises can rarely match.
Supply chain management, one of the key components of smarter commerce, is emerging as an area in which supercomputer simulation tools can be applied to multiple tasks. Improving the efficiency of trucks is an example that happens to call on the tools of physics simulation, one of the first areas to which supercomputing was applied.
But many other aspects of supply chain management resemble network traffic challenges that are familiar to IT professionals. The concept of “latency” is not just for data packets; it can also be experienced when trucks arrive at a warehouse more quickly than they can be unloaded, with resulting delays and inefficiency. Simulation tools can be applied to this physical backlogging as well, leading to smoother flow and lower costs. Midsize IT is increasingly able to tap the HPC resources needed to simulate and solve these and other business challenges and to work more efficiently on a limited budget... Keep Reading…
Article Source: : SC Management