Those kinds of leaps in the effective use of distributed systems are similar with ThinkIQ, which is on the opposite end of the business spectrum from Ecolab. Based in Aliso Viejo, California, ThinkIQ–which recently closed an $11.6 million Series A funding round–is a technology startup focused on cloud-based supply chain management software. “We use existing sensor data to track the movement of materials, very accurately and in real time, from farm to fork,” explained CEO Doug Lawson. “Along the way, we identify things that occur within the processes that are problems. From there we’re able to make profound changes to improve the processes, and save our customers tens of millions of dollars.”

The big advantage for those customers up front is that there are no new field devices required. “They all have sensors that were installed to control their processes, but which are bad at telling what’s happening,” Lawson said. “Our systems use those existing sensors to detect the movement of materials inside the process and inside the supply chain.”

With that advanced tracking in place, ThinkIQ customers were a step ahead when Covid hit. “All our customers are seeing the fragility of their supply chains,” added Lawson. “But now they can look at correlations they couldn’t see before–changes on farms, in their shipping methods, and so on–and they’re able to optimize.”

Recent technology advances have played a part for them too. “Look at Cloud computing,” offered Lawson. “Five years ago it would have been, ‘Hell, no!’ Now 18 of every 20 companies are doing it.”

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