Artificial intelligence has come a long way since Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 – A Space Odyssey. This 1968 classic and visionary film was one of the first to introduce thinking supercomputers in cinema. What's more, is that they were capable of learning and making decisions based solely on input.
Today’s supply chain management is sort of like that, though. (minus all of the man versus machine stuff, of course.)
The logistics industry sees a large number of operations being supported by AI systems. Systems, that are critical to the smooth operation of today’s complex supply chain.
So, what is the role that artificial intelligence plays in modern supply chain management? What does it accomplish, and how does it improve the efficiency of order placement, fulfillment, shipping, and customer service?
What is Artificial Intelligence in Supply Chain Management?
Many of today’s supply chain management solutions are powered by AI. The jobs artificial intelligence is tasked with are generally broken into two different categories – augmentation and automation.
Augmentation platforms are designed to help human operators with daily tasks, such as operating as a virtual assistant or completing data analysis.
Automation is used to streamline tasks and processes, such as forwarding communication to stakeholders, customers, and suppliers. It’s also used with robotics in manufacturing and fulfillment centers.
Each of these two capacities helps potential users understand their capacity – especially when it comes to supply chain management tasks. In fact, there are several AI-powered platforms and services that help supply chain managers accomplish daily tasks with improved efficiency.
You are likely familiar with automated customer chat apps, which help to streamline order processing, customer service, and procurement tasks. The Chatbot is the latest AI-powered platform that permits companies to connect with suppliers and vendors. Some of the common tasks offered with Chatbot AI including placing purchasing requests, sending actions to suppliers with regards to compliance and governance materials, and receiving or processing invoices.
Supply Chain Planning is a crucial component of modern logistics operations. The ability to effectively forecast for inventory supply, without overloading costs is accomplished with machine learning technology. Machine learning is capable of factoring multiple big data sets, analyzes sales, and balances supply and demand to provide accurate forecasting reports.
Machine learning AI is also finding a home in warehouse management tasks, more specifically, inventory management. It discovers areas of strength and weakness, over and understock situations, and continually learns from mistakes, that is reshaping warehouse management across the board.
The use of AI in warehouse unloading and loading equipment has been well documented in recent years. It’s a faster, safer and more efficient method for off-loading freight, storage, picking and packing, and more. The integration of this equipment helps to reduce expenses, lead times, transportation costs and improves environment factors. It’s a payroll saver, improves facility safety, and expands hours of service.
In the logistics segment, each mile driven and minute spent in the delivery of products is crucial. Optimizing route efficiency with the use of AI genetic algorithms helps carriers and delivery agents optimize routes for customer deliveries. In fact, shipping giant UPS uses a tool they call Orion, that helps drivers improve their delivery and pick-up cycle. FedEx introduced ROADS several years ago when AI integration with route planning was at its infancy.
These systems have been fine-tuned and designed to be customized for different capacities, volume of fleets, and scalable for expansion.
Step Into the Future of AI Tech With Us!
Like any technology, AI continues to evolve. Logistics and supply chain operators are tasked with finding solutions that won’t put a dent in their operational budgets but help to improve their operations and enhance the customer experience. A valuable resource for stakeholders of supply chain entities is a professional 3PL like Redwood Logistics.