The Digital Supply Chain podcast

IoT Location Services in Supply Chain- a chat with Ed Chao, CEO of Polte

June 12, 2020 Tom Raftery / Ed Chao Season 1 Episode 44
The Digital Supply Chain podcast
IoT Location Services in Supply Chain- a chat with Ed Chao, CEO of Polte
Chapters
The Digital Supply Chain podcast
IoT Location Services in Supply Chain- a chat with Ed Chao, CEO of Polte
Jun 12, 2020 Season 1 Episode 44
Tom Raftery / Ed Chao

On this the 44th episode of the Digital Supply Chain podcast, I spoke with Ed Chao. Ed is the CEO of Polte - Polte are a company that offers IoT location services with their Cloud Location over Cellular (C-LoC) technology.

With the increasing importance of location technologies, Polte's unique take on it, and their recent Polte Proximity announcement (a Mobile IoT Physical Distancing and Contact Tracing solution), I was very keen to have Ed on the show to learn more.

I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation, and I think you will too - do let me know your thoughts, by dropping me a comment.

Now we are in June, I am trialling a new feature on the podcast - listeners stories. If you have a cool supply chain story you'd like featured on the show, send it to me via email (tom.raftery @ sap.com), or just send it to me as a direct message on Twitter/LinkedIn. Audio messages will get played (unless you specifically ask me not to).

And if you want to know more about any of SAP's Digital Supply Chain solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/digitalsupplychain and if you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover it. Thanks.

And remember, stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane!



Show Notes Transcript

On this the 44th episode of the Digital Supply Chain podcast, I spoke with Ed Chao. Ed is the CEO of Polte - Polte are a company that offers IoT location services with their Cloud Location over Cellular (C-LoC) technology.

With the increasing importance of location technologies, Polte's unique take on it, and their recent Polte Proximity announcement (a Mobile IoT Physical Distancing and Contact Tracing solution), I was very keen to have Ed on the show to learn more.

I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation, and I think you will too - do let me know your thoughts, by dropping me a comment.

Now we are in June, I am trialling a new feature on the podcast - listeners stories. If you have a cool supply chain story you'd like featured on the show, send it to me via email (tom.raftery @ sap.com), or just send it to me as a direct message on Twitter/LinkedIn. Audio messages will get played (unless you specifically ask me not to).

And if you want to know more about any of SAP's Digital Supply Chain solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/digitalsupplychain and if you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover it. Thanks.

And remember, stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane!



Those two go together very nicely in terms of being able to one get macro level, what wide area network, um, really thinking basically the best accuracy using cellular down to aisle level, uh, using, um, augmented or ancillary infrastructure. 
Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening wherever you are in the world.
This is the digital supply chain podcast. The number one podcast, focusing on the digitization of supply chain. And I am your host global vice president at SAP, Tom Raftery. Hi everyone. Welcome to the digital supply chain podcast. My name is Tom Raftery with SAP and with me on the show today, I have ed. Ed, would you like to introduce yourself?
Yeah, sure. I'm ed chap, CEO of Pulte, um, where we're inventing the next generation global location system. That's going to be based on five G cellular. We've invented this capability that we think is really going to transform industries. And, uh, uh, I've been in this industry in wireless snap for over 30 years and really happy about being at a startup.
That's really creating some, a platform that we believe is truly transformative for IOT. You say you were a startup. So give me a little bit of background to the company itself. How long are you in business? Where are you based what market you're servicing? How did you come into being? Yeah, sure. So our founder, Russ Markoff's, I met him about five years ago now.
And he'd been at this for almost 15 years at that point 10 years and had a mass, these large pile of patents, 75 patents and patents pending globally. Over that time. And we met, um, uh, uh, when I had, uh, exited, uh, T-Mobile Bauer, the company I've worked for, Metro PCs had been acquired by T-Mobile and I had taken a little bit of time off and had met Russ and he was kind of figuring out how to bring this technology to market.
And I had some great ideas at the time. And, and as we talked and develop that story together and, uh, you know, and this concept and this window of opportunity around mobile IOT, where there was a promise to bring, to connect billions of low cost devices. And then connect them globally. Or we're using cellular at a, at a very cost efficient and very lit way was something that was really in our minds.
Something that could be really, truly revolutionary. And that, that technology that Russ had created. Together with the team over the years was really fundamental, right. And that allowed mobile IOT to achieve the three things and keep the three things that it does really well, low cost, long battery and ubiquitous coverage.
And so what we realized is that the technology, if you are trying to create a tracker like location, we felt was just fundamental for a lot of these use cases. And so we thought that instead of. Jamming GPS and wifi and Bluetooth. You do all those three things. Any of those things, you uncheck all three boxes of what mobile IOT promised to do, right?
You're increasing the cost, you're killing the battery and you need all three to be able to work everywhere. Right? Cause GPS only works outdoors, wifi, and Bluetooth generally only work either indoors or personal area areas. And so we, so we had this, this, this, this thought that, you know what, why not just through a firmware upgrade.
To that mobile IOT device. And in essence, replace the need for all three. Right? So now you've recheck or maintain the check on all three boxes in terms of cost battery life and ubiquitous coverage, indoors, outdoors, everywhere in between globally. So that's really the, the, the, uh, uh, so about two years ago is in essence when Polti got started in terms of bringing that technology to market.
Okay. And what market are you servicing? So the markets are targeted primarily at enterprise. We have some partners that are also consumers. So we are, we, we found that there's all these different, all these different use cases and industries just need to be able to find their stuff. These they're critical assets and having better visibility, real time to all the things that matter to them.
Right? So in the case of enterprise, we've found there's several amazing use cases where things like cell ID, which just wasn't good enough in terms of location and location, accuracy, um, wifi GPS for beginning to make good inroads, but just didn't have the economics or the, the, the coverage that we can provide.
And then it started off with. You know what, there's just this core set of stuff. That's just tracking trips. Right. And then people just want to be able to find and, and, and be able to say here's where my stuff is, whether that's for shipping and transportation distribution, even to some extent on the supply chain side, in various different industries.
And so, um, but they were struggling being able to scale that Beyonce just the truck, right? So they they're able to track the truck and then they'll use barcode scanning or NFC or whatever it is to be able to identify the things that are on the truck. But then, then we realized, as we talked to the, to the industry, that in reality, they want to be able to track the things that are on the truck, not just the truck, but they only compromise just packing the truck.
Cause that's what the technology could do because GPS could see the sky. And so what, uh, so the use case here is really about extending that capability from the truck down to the things that are on the truck. And everything in between from the distribution centers to the trucks, themselves, to the final destination, whether that's retail or another distribution center, a staging area, and you can apply that across all industries, right.
Then all across all sorts of different assets. So generally speaking at the highest level, it's the next generation asset management and track and trace and supply chain management. Um, systems that we're we're seeing are really surfacing as amazing use cases. Okay. Uh, you, you mentioned at the start five G, is that necessary for this?
Yeah, so, so the definition of five Z is interesting. So what you, what we're typically hearing about is five G and R right? So this is the new radio Y super gigabit ethernet data rates that are going to allow you to have virtual reality. Baseball football stadiums during the super bowl. Right. And that that's what the, but you've also seen the other half of that besides, you know, high, high speed data and all these really amazing capabilities that require low latency and critical infrastructure.
The other half of that equation is something called 5g massive IOT. Right. And the IMT 2020 standards that were defined by Europe, the European, uh, uh, ITU, uh, group, those global group actually called for also being able to support billions of devices and much higher densities, lower costs. Longer battery life, massive numbers in the same footprint as cellular.
Right? So it's a very different problem that they were solving then five GNR. So it's these buckets of standards that are now called NBI IOT and LTM, or sometimes called Caterham that are in this mobile IOT. A space that's defined by the GSN as such, which actually is 5g compliant. So it's fundamentally 5g and what we are terming five G massive IOT that is the other half of five G that we're focused on.
And then we also have technology around five GNR, which we can talk about maybe another time, but our real focus right now coming to market is around that 5g, massive IOT and enabling, continuing to check all three of those boxes on, on cost battery life. And. Ubiquitous coverage. So will it work places where five G is not yet rolled out where you got three G or four G towers?
So those four, three G four G four G towers and the 4g towers and selves are forward compatible with those IDs, right? Those, those standards. So, um, five G massive IOT sits in between and cradles. The leverages between Forgey and 5g. Um, people like to talk about five days. So we tend to I'll put it in that, in that, in that kind of brand.
But at the end of the day, it's really just a software upgrade to the 40 networks. Right. Right. So NVI IOT will sit in the guard band sometimes in band, um, using the same exact hardware that's out there. Right. So there's, it's a very straightforward upgrade for mobile network operators and you can go to the GSMs website and you can see that, and the IOT has been deployed pretty, pretty much globally now.
And then there's something called LTM, which is a much more full featured capabilities. So think of NBI IOT. It's really good. I'm going to show my age, but here it's an essence, the next generation to a paging it's, it's really, really low bit rate. Um, primarily for stationary type use cases, call them smart cities and smart meters and things like that.
We're straight for that. But now if you want to go to things that are more feature features such as mobility, or even voiceover LTE capabilities that. Allow you to kind of take things to the next level. So if you have like, uh, or you, if you want to send files like video or being able to enable this device to be able to be augmented with other things that are in the cloud, you're going to want to have a little better, more capability.
And that's what LTE M does. And that's actually our key focus, right? So being able to do asset management and asset tracking mobility on the back of the truck, uh, together with the improved. Extended range together with the better power. Um, all of this makes for an amazing, what we think is a real hotspot of technology capabilities that come together that really need a lot of great use cases.
And so that's what we've really been focusing on is enabling that backwards compatible 4g version of 5g, massive IOT. Okay, interesting triangulating someone's position based on the cell tower technology has never been really, really accurate. Let me ask what, uh, what kind of location accuracy are we talking about with your solution?
So there's two ways to think about that. We, we have the ability to get down to some 10 meters, right. But how do we get there? There's several steps of how we see ourselves getting there. The first step is just reusing the existing cellular infrastructure as is. That that, and what that does reduce is the time to market or, and time to ROI for opera, for enterprises, because they don't have to go deploy infrastructure.
Right. They can just get a SIM, put it into their device off, they're going, they have an immediate ROI because they can put that tracker in, on, on their pallet, in their, in their package, uh, on their leased asset. Right. Or would we all call today's sharing economy? Right. Um, and so. They can get a ROI a bit by leveraging existing to cell towers.
And that's going to depend on the cell tower density, right? So the more towers that you see, the more accurate it gets, our field tests are shown anywhere between 50 to a hundred meters of accuracy in typical use cases that would go from dense, urban to suburban. And then as you go to rural, it becomes less because it's less accurate because the cell towers are just wider.
Um, but if you think about that, That's probably going to be good enough for most use cases that are about asset tracking. Right? If I just need to know that this thing's in transit on a, on a highway, in the rural area, that's typically all that most use cases are going to care about, but for all the other areas, such as suburban down the denser urban, we're able to, in essence, get you down to building level accuracy, which allows you to then get to the address and whether or not that thing.
The object itself is at the distribution center. Even in some parts of the distribution center, because it can be really large, certain parts of the campus environment, whether it's manufacturing facilities or the light, or if it's on the road and then at a distribution center. Along the way to its final destination.
So being able to have that real time visibility, indoors, outdoors, everywhere in between is really what we see as the magic of what we do and gives an beyond just, I know that you're in this city or I know that, which is what cell ID can do today with GPS. You don't get any, if you put this tracker in a box or in a, in a pallet, basically you get nothing because you.
They never get line of sight at this time. Yeah. So that's what we're, we're really excited about. Then the second piece would be what we call healthy local, where you can use, if we can augment the cellular and existing cellular infrastructure with, with local infrastructure, whether those are small health, LTE, or 5g, small cells or beacons.
So these low cost beacons, for instance, you know, they can get down into the couple hundred dollar range instead of having to deploy say five to 10,000 Bluetooth beacons, right? You can deploy half a dozen. LTE or five G massive IOT, beacons are small cells, right? To be able to get down to that sub 10 meter accuracy inside a warehouse or at a campus or whatever it might be.
So that's those two go together very nicely in terms of being able to one get macro level, what wide area network, um, really thinking basically the best accuracy using cellular down to aisle level using, um, augmented or ancillary. Infrastructure. So that's where people are rolling out, basically their own, uh, LTE networks within their own facilities.
So you can either be a lot of companies are already making that decision even before they've considered Bolty. Right. So just leveraging that, that small cell infrastructure that people are beginning to move forward with, especially here in the U S there's just a lot of that. See signs of it in Europe, as well as in Asia.
So that's great. Um, but then, uh, then we're starting to see because of the price points of these beacons have come down, um, to a level of hundreds of dollars, as opposed to thousands of dollars. Also, they're starting to realize, Hey, we can use this just for location, because it's cheap enough for us to be able to get that level of accuracy and the need for that accuracy is there.
Right? So it's, you can go at it either way, leveraging existing LTE infrastructure. That's going to be there for communication purposes. Replace wifi or whatever it is that you're trying to do on a campus, or they were starting to see because the price points are coming down. People just deploying that infrastructure because of the location capability.
Nice. You also had an announcement last week about porting proximity. Can you tell us about that? Yeah, sure. I'm very excited about that announcement in the launch of multi proximity, which is an IOT based enterprise. Social distancing, contact, tracing solution. We can, what it, what it does is it allows enterprises to help get their help together with their employees, get back to work safely.
Right? We've all talked about between the, between. We've talked to a number of our customers and our partners about the asset management capability that we have. And what more critical asset that you have. Other than your employees. Right? So as we talk to our existing customers and partners, you know, they were asking us, is there any way to apply your technology and your platform to help us solve this other problem?
Cause you know, downloading an app to the cell phone, just wasn't something that they were able to do for lots of different reasons. Their employees didn't want to have something tracking them on their personal cell phone or whatever it might be. And so the multi proximity. Allows, um, high level employees and employers to be both engaged in the process of being able to get back to work safely by allowing us to have a dedicated IOT device.
That's multi location enabled that has a proximity sensor built into it. Together with our location technology to allow you to identify the locations of the exposure events so that one employees are informed about things, but then also employers can take, um, be, have, have more transparency and take ha take action, proactive action to ensure that their, their employees are safe as well.
Okay. Interesting. Very topical. Obviously the guidelines are talking about a two meter distancing typically between employees. So does that mean it needs kind of the beacons that you talked about before to be as. Several of them within a particular facility to allow this to take place. So this is completely infrastructure list.
So that's the other key thing here. So there's no need for infrastructure. Just like I was saying earlier, you're just connecting to the cell network to be able to, um, provide connectivity. Um, and so what these are doing is they're, they're, they're going to have a proximity sensor built in with them. And then some of the initial ones that, that our partners are using is they're using BLE to do that local proximity sensing and.
Yes, six Oh two meters or six feet has been the CDC here in the U S guidelines for social distancing, um, you know, uh, for people to keep in mind. But the reality of it is it's about exposure, right? And so it's not about necessarily knowing roaming when you're six feet. It's also knowing when you're in a room that's small that and with one or even more people for too long, right.
So at the end of the day, it's about risk of exposure, right? So 60 is a great way to teach people about what exposure is because you know, what we found and what the studies have shown is that. As much as we think, you know, uh, we're really good at spatial awareness. I keep telling my wife how great I am about that because I never need a map.
We're really actually not that good at it. Right. To know. And to subconsciously always be on top of knowing that I'm at least six feet aware away from others, but also even if I'm 16 or even 20 feet away from someone in a small room for three hours, Right. It's hard to kind of keep track of that. Right.
And so having these, um, these sensors, um, more than by together, say with your ID badge or on your belt, um, it's just a great way to kinda train employees that you're. Being exposed. Right. And maybe just play a small warning, a quiet beep to say, look out, right, take a look, you know, wake up, look around, and then you can set policy to say, you know, what, if you've been in the room for too long and you're above the policy level of I've been in this room for more than an hour or even 30 minutes with one person or even three people, right?
Three people or even one person, um, plenty of playing a alert that then requires the employee to press a button. Right technology that they've received this alert. Right. And then, so it's different levels of escalation of training, but then also now allowing the corporation, the enterprise to have visibility without having to have someone in every room, monitoring people.
Right. And so this really impacted, that's why, when this, when we mean by empowering employees to be part of that solution of coming back to work, because we think that there's, this may not be generally clickable to every company, but we think there's a lot of companies so far that we've talked to where they think this is just, this is great.
This is going to give them a platform to be able to work with their employees, crowdsource the risk, you know, the exposure of that risk, um, and get back to work together. Cool. That sounds great. Uh, we're coming towards the 20 minute Mark coming towards the end of the podcast now. Um, is there anything else that I have not asked you or anything that I've not brought up that you think would be good for people to be aware of?
Yeah. Well, first of all, thank you for the opportunity to speak to your audience. It's a great podcast and there have always been a great fan. So really honored to have a chance to be able to speak to about poultry with you all. And again, the general message is where could we come to market? And we'd love to help you find all the things that matter.
I'm using our core asset management platform, whether those are for supply chain, cold chain, distribution trips, shipping, and transportation use cases across multiple industries. And so we're inviting your listeners to come. Partner with us and proven use cases that can help you transform your business in such a critical time when the transformation is going to be critical.
And then number two is for Pulte proximity. If they, if you see the visit something, that's a huge, one of the use cases that we're enabling with our asset management platform, um, get in touch with us. We'd love to hear about you and hear from you and see what we can do to help you, um, get back to work safely.
Sure you're based out of Texas personally. I know we talked about that before I turned on the recorder, but is where where's the company? Uh, is it headquartered in Texas and global or U S only, or how does all that work out? Our beachhead market here is in the U S but we are global. So our, our headquarters is here in the Northern suburbs of Dallas.
Uh, and we have employees work just like everybody. Nowadays. We have employees around the U S and Austin, California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, but we also have a general manager for our, um, in an office in UK, uh, for international, um, as well as, um, some folks in Japan. Um, so we are looking to, uh, scale globally over the course of the next year.
Um, but again, the beachhead here is we've come to market here in the U S and the plans to scale globally over the course of the next year. Two two years. Thanks. And if people want to know more about add or about Pulte, why would you have me direct them just to go on over to  dot com, where we have at our website, where we have a lot more background on the technology use cases that we're enabling how to work with us as well as information about the team and as well as the developer portals for when you come on board.
So a lot of good information. They're excellent at been fantastic. Thanks for coming on the show. Thank you, Tom. Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about digital supply chains, head on over to sap.com/digital supply chain, or, or simply drop me an email to Tom.Raftery @sap.com.
If you'd like to show, please, don't forget to subscribe to it in your podcast application to choice to get new episodes. As soon as they're published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks catch you all next time.