While various new technologies continue to play a critical role in efficiently managing supply chains, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as one of the most transformative technologies revolutionizing supply chain operations.
In my previous article ‘Accelerating Supply Chain Digitization with Intelligent Prioritization’, we explored how organizations are pushing towards creating digital supply chains in the post-Covid-19 era.
Now in 2023, this seems a reality with the advancement of AI.
AI, I believe, opens numerous opportunities to adapt to an autonomous supply chain approach. This makes you future-ready, addressing far-reaching challenges, including those that disrupted supply chain management in recent years.
So, how will artificial intelligence help in taking the performance of your Supply Chain operations a notch higher?
It is still common for organizations to struggle with supply chain issues such as lack of visibility, siloed information systems, limited data accuracy, communication barriers, demand uncertainty, operational inefficiencies, risk management, and so on.
Yet, despite navigating through so many uncomfortable internal and external factors, I am glad that bold companies are not waiting for the supply chain to untangle itself. Instead, they are willing to explore the efficiency of AI and other relevant technologies like the use of Advanced Analytics and how it can seamlessly integrate into their supply chain.
Fast forward, AI’s future in supply chain management looks promising. Early adopters of AI noticed a significant decrease in logistical costs, improved warehouse efficiencies, recalibrated inventory levels, and improved revenue by having better customer order fill rates.
To put things into perspective…
One of the key areas where AI proves its effectiveness in the supply chain is forecasting and demand planning. While traditional methods rely on historical data and manual analysis, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors, AI algorithms, on the other hand, can process vast amounts of data in real-time, considering numerous variables and factors that influence demand. By analysing patterns, trends, and even external factors like weather conditions, AI-powered systems can generate accurate demand forecasts, leading to improved inventory management and reduced stockouts.
AI plays a crucial role in optimizing inventory management, ensuring that the necessary products are available at the right time and in the right quantities. By harnessing AI for inventory management, you will save on cost by having the right inventory levels & reducing obsolescence. Also, spend less time on manual processes while making smarter data-driven decisions.
AI-powered insights can help organizations identify overspending areas, negotiate better prices with suppliers, and implement cost-saving initiatives. These technologies can easily optimize procurement processes by identifying bottlenecks and streamlining workflows.
Furthermore, based on historical spending, performance, market trends, and procurement data, they can determine patterns to determine the most suitable suppliers. Furthermore, it can help you detect quality drops, late deliveries, and if performance does not improve, alternative suppliers will be suggested.
AI has emerged as a powerful tool for optimizing warehouse and transportation operations. Technologies like advanced analytics and AI make it easier and cheaper for warehouses and DCs of all sizes to address warehouse optimization challenges like monitoring and managing stock levels in real-time, slotting and workforce planning, and detecting anomalies in warehouse operations. In other scenarios, AI-driven systems can also analyse vast amounts of data, including traffic patterns, historical delivery data, and real-time insights, to optimize route planning.
As the adoption of AI in supply chain management holds great potential for improving efficiency, decision-making, and overall performance, there are several challenges that organizations may encounter, including data quality and availability, change management and organizational culture, talent & expertise, cost security, and ethical considerations.
Overcoming these challenges will require careful planning, collaboration across departments, and a holistic approach to AI adoption along with top management’s drive.
Our supply chains have always been complex & will continue to be complex as we enter the world of omnichannel existence. AI holds the potential to change the way we operate our supply chains forever. In order to succeed in the AI era, organizations must foster trust in it and embrace it wholeheartedly. Among the first things they can do to be AI-ready is to conduct thorough data readiness assessments. As part of their AI implementation strategy, they can develop a clear roadmap, foster a supportive organizational culture, and continuously evaluate AI’s impact on their supply chain.
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