It likely hasn’t escaped your notice that there seem to be more issues accessing the products you want or need. This is a hallmark of what is being termed the “Great Supply Chain Disruption.” In essence, a range of recent events and challenges have arisen that prevent supply chain companies from operating efficiently or at full capacity.
SwissCognitive Guest Blogger: Sam Bowman – “Utilizing AI To Overcome the “Great Supply Chain Disruption”
There are certainly individual issues that must be addressed on a systemic level. However, some can be positively impacted by advanced technology. The rise of our digital landscape has meant that artificial intelligence (AI) tools are more accessible and able to take on a wider variety of tasks.
We’re going to look at a few of the ways companies are utilizing AI to overcome the “Great Supply Chain Disruption.”
One of the primary issues during the “Great Supply Chain Disruption” has to do with inventory. At times this is because of unexpected demand for items, as was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. At other times, it may be due to reduced access to products and raw materials. In either case, disruption can often be mitigated through effective inventory management practices.
This is where AI is already instrumental in making e-commerce businesses more competitive and agile. Alongside elements like chatbots and better personalization, AI platforms can bolster inventory management and forecasting capabilities. This involves the software analyzing historical ordering data alongside the fluctuations of the market. It then uses this information to make predictions about the needs for products or raw material ordering well in advance.
However, it’s also important to understand the limitations of AI in inventory management. These machine learning systems only tend to be effective if they have access to high-quality data sets. As such, it’s important for companies in the supply chain to consider this when making their investments. Either they have to utilize platforms that already provide access to the best market information, or work alongside data analysts to identify and gather relevant data resources.
Delays and Errors
Disruptions to the supply chain aren’t just limited to insufficient products to ship. There can also be issues within the efficiency of processes that can impact companies’ ability to get products to consumers. Delays and errors can be caused by a wide variety of elements. This includes skills gaps in the workforce, poor machine maintenance, and ineffective shipping decisions. AI can be utilized to mitigate issues here too.
AI’s role in automating a greater range of practices can certainly reduce the potential for human error to disrupt the process. However, the positive influence goes further. Sensors on devices in the industrial internet of things (IIoT) can collect data throughout every step of the supply chain, from production to delivery. AI software can then analyze the information to make suggestions to managers on areas for efficiency improvement. It can also monitor machines and provide recommendations for timely maintenance.
It’s also worth considering that shipping procedures may be a cause of delays and errors. More effective delivery tracking isn’t just useful for consumers to know where their products are. The data collected by sensors on the vehicle can be fed to AI-driven route management software. These platforms analyze both the position of vehicles and traffic conditions. This means that managers can update routes in real-time to avoid unnecessary delays when unexpected hurdles arise.
When discussing AI and labor, it’s not unusual to go down the sci-fi route of androids and biomechanical enhancements. There’s certainly some rising AI tech that can fall into that area. For instance, Elon Musk’s proposed Neuralink technology is intended to improve neurological, psychological, and physical functioning through the use of brain-machine interfaces. However, we are still likely some way off from this type of human-and-machine AI integration from being commonplace. At the moment, AI with respect to labor is usually in relation to data-led software that helps mitigate shortages.
It’s no secret that many industries, including those in the supply chain, are struggling as a result of continued labor shortages. A lack of qualified professionals naturally contributes to disruptions in the chain. As such, AI-driven recruitment tools can help to fill positions more efficiently and effectively. These programs automate everything from predicting future hiring needs to screening potential candidates. This not only minimizes shortages but also helps improve the quality of candidates that can influence the business positively in the long term.
It’s also important to recognize the impact the presence of these AI tools has on the workforce. The more such tools are incorporated into processes, the greater the need is for employees that can effectively collaborate with them. This means that companies may need to provide tech training to even entry-level workers. Continued skills development can improve work satisfaction and employee self-esteem. In turn, there can be a boost to retention rates that prevent further disruptions.
Artificial intelligence has an increasing presence in the supply chain. Some of these applications have the ability to positively impact disruptions the industry and consumers are facing. Inventory management software can make more accurate forecasts that improve companies’ stocking practices. Automated tools in the IIoT can assess and analyze processes to make efficiency recommendations. AI recruitment platforms can also minimize disruption from labor shortages. The supply chain is one of the most valuable global sectors and we can expect to see greater adoption of AI to help address issues.
About the Author:
Sam Bowman is a published freelance writer from the West Coast who specializes in healthcare tech and artificial intelligence content. His experience in patient care directly translates into his work and his passion for industry technologies influences the content he creates. Sam has worked for years – directly in, and writing about – healthcare technology and the many benefits it offers to patients and doctors alike. He loves to watch as medical tech and business software grow and develop, ushering in a modern age of industry.