Google launches cloud-based Supply Chain Twin to aid enterprise logistics planning

Google LLC is pushing to help enterprises resolve their pandemic-linked supply chain challenges with the launch of a couple of new cloud services today.

The Supply Chain Twin enables companies to build a “digital twin,” or virtual representation of their physical supply chain, while the Supply Chain Pulse module works with it to provide alerts and solutions to any possible disruptions.

Google said one of the things that has become apparent from today’s supply chain crisis is that most companies lack complete visibility into their business logistics.

“Siloed and incomplete data is limiting the visibility companies have into their supply chains,” said Hans Thalbauer, Google Cloud’s managing director of supply chain and logistics solutions. “The Supply Chain Twin enables customers to gain deeper insights into their operations, helping them optimize supply chain functions — from sourcing and planning to distribution and logistics.”

Supply Chain Twin will provide companies with a complete overview of supply chain data, giving them a much better understanding of their operations, Google said, by integrating information from enterprise business systems regarding locations, products, orders and inventory. All that can be combined with data about stocks and inventory levels from supplier’s systems, plus transportation data from partner’s systems to provide a more holistic view of logistics across the entire business, according to the company.

Public data around things such as the weather, risk or sustainability can also be integrated to add more context, Google said.

Once customers are up and running with a complete view of their logistics operations, the Supply Chain Pulse module applies analytics to increase visibility, allowing companies to drill down into key operational metrics via easy-to-consume dashboards. It also enables alert-driven event management capabilities, enabling companies to react when certain metrics cross user-defined thresholds. Users can also create shared workflows within Google Workspace to try to resolve any issues that crop up.

Artificial intelligence plays a role too. Algorithms work to provide recommendations and suggest tactical responses to changing events, or flag complex issues and simulate the effect of hypothetical situations to aid planning.

Although Supply Chain Twin is still a new product, the French automaker Groupe Renault has already put it to use to help solve some of its logistics issues. Jean-François Salles, Renault’s supply chain global vice president, said improving visibility into supply chains is a key initiative at the company.

“By aggregating inventory data from our suppliers and leveraging Google Cloud’s strength in organizing and orchestrating data, with solutions like the Supply Chain Twin we expect to achieve a holistic view,” he said. “We aim to work with Google tools to manage both stock, improve forecasting, and eventually optimize our fulfillment.”

Constellation Research Inc. analyst Holger Mueller told SiliconANGLE that Google’s Supply Chain Twin looks like a compelling product, since digital twins have become very popular with enterprises as a way to simulate real-world conditions for analysis, product development, strategy testing and validation.

“It is timely that Google is offering a supply chain digital twin in times when enterprises are struggling with supply chain disruptions caused by COVID,” Mueller said. “We’ll have to keep an eye on adoption, since it’s one thing to build a little twin and another to keep it up-to-date, reflecting the real world.”

Photo: marcinjozwiak/Pixabay

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