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December 17, 2017
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Cisco opens Houston innovation center to develop new supply chain technology

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Company may market solutions to outside firms, executive says.

Networking giant Cisco Systems Inc. has developed an "innovation center" in its Houston warehouse, where it will test a range of new-age technologies. Cisco hopes those technologies will optimize its supply chain, as well as supply chains of other companies, a top Cisco logistics executive said yesterday.

Jack Allen, Cisco's senior director, global logistics, said he expects the center to be up and running by the end of April. The company will be piloting programs to test the benefits of augmented reality, location-based wireless areas, wearables, and energy management solutions. Cisco will embed a series of sensors into customers' manufacturing operations that will tie into their data analytics to identify energy-saving opportunities, he said.

The company is also working on what Allen called a "pervasive video" platform, which will allow users to effectively teach software to automatically search for and shoot video of specific events or objects. For example, pervasive video could be used to verify a shipment's chain of custody or to check for carton damage, Allen said.

"We have a whole lot of things we want to pilot," Allen said in the interview. He added that Cisco will evaluate the potential of marketing the technology to other companies, including its vast network of supplier and system-integrator partners. Allen keynoted the second day of the biennial Modex conference in Atlanta.

Cisco ships about 220,000 items per day, Allen said in his keynote presentation at the Modex 2016 exhibition and conference.

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