Artificial intelligence is an increasingly critical part of the global supply chain.
Integrating AI into software has helped to increase efficiencies and operational speed, and it has been used to find ways to improve vital processes from the first to last mile. Advanced machine learning has helped to reduce risk and uncertainty while also increasing productivity during a tight labor market. Without the help of powerful software, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic would undoubtedly have been more pronounced for both retailers and consumers.
In short, AI has helped to change the way goods move, from process automation to forecasting to sustainability. Let’s dig into each of these a little to get a better understanding of the impact of artificial intelligence on the supply chain today.
Supply chain AI use cases
A global supply chain means a simple home appliance may contain dozens of precision-manufactured component pieces that require their own unique fulfillment cycles. The process by which an LED panel becomes a part of a car that rolls off a dealership lot a continent away can be immensely complex. Fortunately, technology is here to help out.
AI has been invaluable for streamlining shipping and logistics operations for everything from manufacturing to e-commerce. After experiencing uncertainty and the reality that one small delay can impact an entire supply chain, more and more organizations are looking for ways to reduce risk. That means people are looking more closely at consumer demand, supply rates, routes, and inventory levels while trying to keep up with safety and labor shortages.
So how has AI become a part of the supply chain?
Automation — Machine learning can streamline many paperwork processes and authentication to help expedite transfers and minimize back office work. This may include scanning bills of lading, using robots to more easily navigate warehouses, or automating authentication processes.
Transportation is also making strides to reduce human errors impact on the supply chain through autonomous vehicles and ships. Automation can help take people out of positions where they may be doing jobs that are risky or often unsafe, and limit the impact of small errors on workflows at the same time.
Forecasting demand and data analysis — Utilizing AI to help better forecast demand and market trends can help ensure that businesses can order enough supply ahead of time to account for possible delays. This can help manage bottlenecks and also overcome slowdowns impacting global trade.
Better inventory level management — Managing stock is especially important with warehouse space shortages rippling across the country.
Major retailers like Amazon use advanced inventory management to balance inventory between hubs in a network of localized warehouses for unmatched speed. Ai is helping warehouses and retailers to bridge the gap.
Sustainability — Transportation makes up the largest chunk of carbon emissions from any industry. In recent years, it has been under the microscope as scientists and policymakers seek out ways to cut CO2 across the board.
AI can help find the most optimal routes to cut down on empty miles and gas consumption. Also, by forecasting demand accurately, it can help cut down on unnecessary inventory overages and production waste.
What impact does AI have on the supply chain?
These are ways that AI for supply chain management shows up, but what’s the impact it creates?
- More accurate inventory management
- More efficient and safe warehouses
- More safety on the road
- Reduced operational costs
- More timely deliveries
- More visibility in the supply chain overall
- Actionable insights from analytics
AI is here to stay — and with good reason. With the right tools, supply chain managers can bring positive changes to their organizations that not only increase productivity and profitability, but also support team members by making their jobs safer and easier.
Supply chain management AI can help to make global trade more resilient and visible from end to end. However, there have been industry-wide challenges to implementing AI in the supply chain. Partnering with an expert with a background deriving maximum efficiency and gains from new technology can help streamline the process and minimize investment.
If you’re looking for a partner at the Port of LA and Long Beach, connect with GlobeCon to get started.