Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Smart Product Systems

A new generation of “smart” products — from aircraft monitors that alert the ground crew when a part needs to refrigerators that tell you when you’re out of milk — are changing the way we live, work and play.

These “self-aware” products and systems are enabled by the convergence of new sensor and wireless technologies, new information environments, like the Cloud, and new software tools capable of analyzing in real-time very large amounts of complex data. 

The Center for Logistics and Digital Strategy builds such systems for clients – smart products linked to smart logistics systems that produce, maintain and enhance the way the products are used.

They have broad application across every industry sector:

  • Intelligent Aircraft — predicting parts failure means reduced delays at the gate and on the tarmac for passengers and cargo alike. Tools developed by the center help aerospace companies, like Boeing, recognize patterns in data being downloaded in real-time from aircraft.  These data monitor the health of the aircraft in real time.  When a possible failure is detected, the “smart” system makes recommendations on how to respond.
  • Smart Retail Supply Chains — a smart supply chain can detect impending stock-outs and replenish supply to meet demand—often without human involvement. Promotions and unexpected supply chain disruptions complicate the forecasting task. Supply chain “prognostics” developed by the center can be used to create smart retail systems able to better match customer demand and supply—and increase store revenues.
  • Intelligent Machining — center-developed tools for process control and quality management of the manufacturing process monitor both the machining process and the part as it is being made. When the process drifts — and part quality is compromised — automatic adjustments can be made.   
  • Energy-Savvy Logistics —  Smart logistical systems monitor the energy consumed in transporting products around the globe. Such systems can assess trade-offs and recommend alternative modes of transportation and routings, depending on the customer’s need. The goal is to create an “energy-aware” logistical system with the lowest possible carbon footprint.

Contact the center to learn more about how smart products developed with the center’s help can open new lines of business and opportunity for your company.