Advancing Supply Chain Using AI

The eight technology trends on the strategic and operational initiatives of supply chain functions are:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Advanced Analytics
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Intelligent Things
  • Conversational Systems
  • Robotic Process Automation
  • Immersive Technologies
  • Blockchain

In this article we will assess this prediction and analyse the impact of two of the eight technology trends on the strategic and operational initiatives of supply chain functions.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for a long time as a technology solution in many areas like robotics. The use of AI in Supply Chain has been growing with a spate of applications tailored to enhance specific Supply Chain issues. AI, currently, carries great potential to revolutionise supply chain processes.

The ability to apply AI to enhance and automate decision making, reinvent business models, and exhilarate customer experience could make it the favourite Supply Chain trend this year and in the coming years. Pattern recognition and predictive analysis has always been the strong point of AI solutions. Now, with the advent of decision-making abilities, however primitive, the AI solutions for Supply Chain are coming of age. Combining pattern capabilities with more advanced prescriptive capabilities will therefore be critical to widespread supply chain uptake, enabling users to dedicate their skills to higher-order use cases such as strategic network design or capacity planning.

Faster, smarter, more profitable supply chain decisions

Transitioning from hype to reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is gaining momentum across industries thanks to an explosion in computing power and storage, the emergence of IoT (Internet of Things) and Big Data, and algorithmic advances. While there have been numerous examples of how AI can boost profits in supply chain execution—most notably in the form of autonomous vehicles and smart robotics—the benefits related to supply chain planning have largely been ignored. But that’s starting to change as future-focused executives see the potential to improve profitability and productivity by making faster, smarter supply chain planning decisions.

Artificial Intelligence, in addition to automating different functions within and outside the supply chain, can also make a supply chain that learns and adapts by itself. There is enough AI technology today for supply chain operations that can run unattended for long periods.

Advanced Analytics

Advanced Analytics is “the use of new mathematical approaches and tools aimed to turn data into new insights”. It enables companies to proactively take advantage of future opportunities and mitigate risks. Prescriptive analytics can improve decision making in areas like supply chain planning, sourcing, logistics and transportation, and can be deployed to improve end-to-end supply chain performance. Processes that previously relied on human judgment can be powered with predictive and prescriptive analytics that could have a significant impact on future demands for supply chain talent.

In Supply Chain, Advanced Analytics is offering tools to make the processes more accurate, more reliable at reduced costs. They offer smartness in procurement (demand forecasting), in-bound logistics, inventory management (safety stock level recommendations), manufacturing (predictive maintenance, fulfilment (optimised multi-stop routes), product traceability, transportation, reverse logistics etc.

66% of supply chain leaders say advanced supply chain analytics are critically important to their supply chain operations in the next 2 to 3 years.

Images Courtesy: Image-1: Logisticsbureau.com, Image-2: Forbes
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