Monday, 26 January 2009

IBM's Green SNOW

IBM has announced a new consulting offering around supply chain logistics called the Supply Chain Network Optimisation Workbench (SNOW).

The idea is to provide companies with a detailed analysis of supply chain logistics with suggestions on how to reduce CO2 emissions, fuel usage and costs.

SNOW is built around a tool developed by IBM's China Research Lab and is based on an SOA foundation using Websphere and other IBM-brand software. It looks at five major logistics areas:

* Product - looking at the CO2 impact of materials
* Sourcing - the CO2 impact of suppliers
* Production - the emissions from manufacturing
* Warehousing - the environmental impact of various storage requirements
* Transportation and distribution

IBM now has a list of consulting offerings around CSR issues, including the Carbon Tradeoff Modeler, CSR Assessment and Benchmark Utility, Green Sigma and Environmental Product Lifecycle Management.

Supply Chain/Logistics is going to be the most challenging application area in the development of Green IT and this is IBM's first stab at addressing the market. But the reason it will be so challenging, particularly the logistics aspects, is that it will become increasingly dynamic. Choices of transportation and storage options will be complicated by different fuel costs, fluctuations in fuel prices (and availability), future carbon charges, potential climate change impacts and a variety of other inter-related variables within a global market context.

In this scenario it's hard to see a one-off consulting project backed-up by an analysis tool as the long-term answer. There will be a need for a comprehensive solution supported by transportation, climate, etc. data to provide dynamic and flexible answers to logistics solutions. Solutions providers are working on their offerings and IBM (with no application software of its own) can only really compete as part of a partnership.

© The Green IT Review

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