Creating new value and maintaining competitive advantage within the supply chain remains challenging for companies around the globe. As e-commerce grows, the ability to respond and offer a seamless, superior customer experience also grows more challenging. Fortunately, the applications of logistics artificial intelligence (AI) are well-poised to meet this demand and help accommodate the changing state of the industry. As reported by ZDNet, AI supply chain applications have enormous growth potential to add value to the industry:
“One market estimate puts AI in the supply chain on a 46%-a-year growth track, growing from $503 million in 2017 to more than $10 billion by 2025. As Denis Forget, CEO of Distribution Pharmaplus, puts it, AI-powered supply chains will allow us to unlock productivity by improving inventory management, limiting the impact of shortages and reducing administrative management-a typical win-win solution, as we reduce our costs, while increasing our sales and offering better service.”
As peak season approaches, supply chain partners need to understand how AI supply chain capabilities create new opportunities to save resources through omnichannel and e-commerce logistics.
The idea of robotics process automation (RPA) is one of the most ground-breaking aspects of AI supply chain functionality. Leveraging AI in the form of RPA allows for the streamlined management of virtual processes, ranging from order processing through carrier selection, as well as final delivery. Essentially, RPA runs intuitively within the background of all supply chain systems, sharing and connecting data to let staff focus on more important matters.
AI supply chain functions further allow for improved use of analytics-driven insights. Leveraging the power of big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning enable continuous improvement and optimization. Since the systems rely on timely data and more information about the status of the freight market itself, artificial intelligence can be used to make decisions in real time, reroute freight to avoid potential delays, notify customers of unexpected changes, and much more.
The use of physical robots that rely on AI is perhaps the most iconic way in which AI and automation will affect the global supply chain. Obviously, robots that can move inventory within a warehouse, load orders, and perform other core functions effectively eliminate the need for a human worker to perform those tasks. The widespread application of such technology is largely what is responsible for the perception of the coming “Robot Apocalypse.” That is not reality. Instead, robots can eliminate the legwork of the supply chain, saving resources and helping people stay safe, avoid injury, and more. And robots that apply AI supply chain concepts can identify potential damage to freight, initiate freight tendering processes, and notify customers of shipment status. It all goes back to the shared knowledge and capability of AI within modern supply-chain management systems.
The use of AI supply chain technologies also invokes the conversation of drones and autonomous trucks. While major companies, from Amazon to Uber, have worked to bring these ideals to life, the actual deployment of drones is still years from being ready. With that in mind, AI-powered systems of today will give rise to driverless delivery and more effective, efficient supply chain processes in the future. More importantly, the integration between data and the ability to act on data will increase supply chain agility to meet any new challenge as it arises.
A final core concept in AI supply chain functions involves data-driven workflows and lower risk. The ability to maintain compliance depends on maintaining pristine records, keeping everyone in the loop, and reducing risk to the physical shipment. AI supply chain capabilities make this possible. And according to Dan Khasis of Supply Chain Brain, “Proactive systems enabled by AI are raising the quality of service, exceeding customer expectations for on-time and undamaged deliveries. They’re further improving efficiency through automated compliance processing. The result is lower costs and fewer problems across the logistics network.”
Of course, data-driven workflows further bring up the topic of augmented reality to help users work smarter, not harder.
The age of moving freight to meet e-commerce demand continues to ask more of all freight management parties. There is a coming crunch—a physical capacity crunch—that will be unlike the cargo capacity issues or limited resources. It reflects the physical limit at which talent and resources can no longer keep up with demand. Fortunately, technology and AI supply chain functions are on track to help ensure that possible future is kept at bay. And using a newer TMS, such as the Cerasis Rater, powered by GlobalTranz, can help your company thrive throughout the record-breaking growth of e-commerce through peak season and beyond.
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