For many, Google is part of everyday life when it comes to search, video, and other screen activities. However, it is the seemingly invisible infrastructure that fuels that effortless experience.
Providing sophisticated information services at scale requires a formidable amount of hardware. To do so, Google operates a network of hundreds of facilities -from giant, hyperscale data centers to smaller end-point installations at strategic locations around the world. And the relentless pace of demand growth, innovation and technological changes mean that the company is continuously expanding that infrastructure.
Google is known for designing and assembling much of the equipment used in its complex data centers in-house under tight schedules. This requires a complex physical supply chain, handling everything from complete servers to components, racks, and networking equipment.
Managing hundreds of thousands of shipments annually between thousands of origin destinations, Google ships cargo that is often high-value, proprietary cargo, and time- critical. The loss or delay of a single item has the potential to throw a build project off schedule as well as risk expose sensitive intellectual property. Hence, the business needed a solution to identify supply chain risks before they impact in-transit supply chain. “We had a greater need for information on the status of the supply chain than many of our carriers were able to provide,” says Ilse Schultz, Global Transportation Manager at Google. “And we wanted the ability to act faster and be more proactive when exceptions occurred or even before exceptions surfaced.
In pursuit of the goals around real-time visibility and predictive exception processing, Google’s logistics division has been implementing a portfolio of technical and infrastructure solutions towards making its supply chain world class. One such initiative entails a network of command and control centers around the world with their hub in the United States.
The digital backbone of this visibility and control infrastructure is Everstream Analytics, the predictive supply chain risk analytics platform. Working closely with the Everstream Analytics, Google’s logistics division has built a complete model of its transportation network in the system, and integrated network data from several existing legacy systems to provide risk assessment and analytics of all shipments across its network.
Everstream Analytics overlays Google’s transportation network and in-transit inventory over its platform, which is linked to data feeds from millions of external sources, collecting near real-time information on situations and incidents that have the potential to affect transport operations. Those events include severe weather, road congestion or local industrial action and are filtered and prioritized using artificial intelligence technologies. This ensures that the transportation team at the command center is notified promptly of the most relevant and actionable events.
The platform also taps into extensive internet-of-things (IoT) technologies to provide precise information on the location of transportation assets – ships, trucks and aircraft – and even specific items. Working with specialist telematics providers, Google logistics and Everstream Analytics have established links to the IoT assets that accompany these high-value critical shipments.