Wireless Sensor Network Technology and Its Application Potentials for Service Innovation in Supply Chain Management

Wireless Sensor Network Technology and Its Application Potentials for Service Innovation in Supply Chain Management

Gong Li, Jing Shi
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0267-0.ch018
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The growing awareness of the strategic value of service along with higher product performance expectations has directed many industries to adopt service centric competitive strategies in managing their supply chains. Service innovation based on currently available advanced technologies has become critical in improving enterprises’ competitive strengths. Wireless sensor network (WSN) technology, which can provide a mobile, scalable, and reliable monitoring solution, is emerging as a tool for service innovation in supply chain management. This paper provides an overview of wireless sensor network technology and discusses how it can benefit modern industries. The fundamental theories of WSN are introduced as well as an overview of the development. The impact of information technologies on supply chain management and service innovation is then briefly discussed. Much emphasis is placed on the feasibility, procedures, and critical challenges of implementing WSN in supply chain management innovation. Current and future applications of WSN are also provided, followed by a case study demonstrating the application potentials of WSN for service innovation in the healthcare industry.
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1. Introduction

It has been well recognized that supply chain management and its service innovation are strategically vital to corporate competitiveness and profitability in today's more complex and dynamic operating environment (Burgess, 1998). Supply Chain Management (SCM) offers the firm greater insights into potential opportunities and threats that its supply chain may carry by integrating supply and demand management within and across all supply chain organizations. The successful coordination, integration and management of key business processes across the entire supply chain determine the ultimate success of all supply chain members. With supply chain networks being simultaneously the present and future, the maintenance of a leading and innovative stance is increasingly recognized to be crucial to success and survival (IfM/IBM, 2008). The main goal of service innovation in SCM is to achieve information sharing in SCM and reduction of total cost, thus improving operation efficiency and enhancing competitive advantage.

Wireless sensor network (WSN), also known as Ubiquitous Sensor Networks (USN), is identified as one of 10 emerging technologies that will change the world by MIT Technology Review (Van der Werff, 2003). Basically, a WSN is a wireless network consisting of spatially distributed small autonomous devices using many scattered sensors to cooperatively monitor environmental or physical conditions such as temperature, vibration, pressure, location or motion, at different sites (Römer & Mattern, 2004; Haenselmann, 2006). Low-cost and smart devices with multiple microsensors deployed in large numbers over wide areas and networked through wireless links and the Internet can provide an unprecedented feasible tool for automatically monitoring, tracking, and controlling the entities of interest as well as for data collection, processing, and information sharing.

Generally, the more advanced information and communication technologies (ICT) can offer better services in managing the entire supply chain. With the recent development of WSN technology, WSN has shown their great potentials in different areas such as military sensing, environment monitoring, traffic surveillance, object tracking, nuclear reactor control, fire/flood detection, etc. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate how this state-of-art technology can be applied for service innovation to reshape supply chain management.

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