Improving Supply Chain Visibility with Cartography and Mobile Devices

We previously discussed how the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) stands to motivate growers to better monitor the quality of their products. As we move closer to PTI’s vision of “supply chain-wide adoption of electronic traceability for every case of produce by the year 2012,” new technologies have begun to emerge to help growers meet PTI’s demands. Cartography, or map-making, has of course existed for centuries, but emerging technologies now allow maps to contain more data than ever before—and these capabilities prove particularly useful to produce suppliers.

Let’s say that a grower has 12,000 acres, consisting of different produce that receives different chemical treatments. A robust ERP solution will allow the grower to document which acres contain what product and how the product has been treated. Additionally, the grower will have visibility into details regarding each stage of planning and harvesting, as well as cleaning, processing, packing and delivery.

When enhanced with cartography functionality, this ERP system becomes even more powerful. Using a resource like Google Earth, the grower can view systemic map presentations of all the acres in the ERP dashboard. Interfacing with Google Earth, the ERP system embeds information into the map, so that growers can quickly see which fields need crop rotation, irrigation, etc. In regards to chemical treatments, the map will show when the produce can be safely harvested based on date of application—in addition to wind conditions during application, which will inform the grower as to which additional fields might have been affected.

When growers are in the field, they can examine soil, produce and others conditions and enter that information via mobile devices. This information immediately updates the ERP system running in the background, which in turn reflects the data via the map. Users inside the system thus have dynamic vision into the entire enterprise from the ground level. What’s more, cartography can accommodate tracking devices on trucks, chemical applicators and other equipment, so that they can be instantaneously located.

We talk a great deal about the ability of products like it.CPG to give midmarket agricultural companies enhanced enterprise visibility. With regard to cartography and mobile devices, we take that visibility quite literally, meaning the ability to see in-the-field conditions updated second-by-second via next-generation maps.

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