Supply Chain's Shortcomings - AI to the Rescue

ith the ever-expanding rate of data, we need help from a sophisticated technology to handle the enormous volumes of data, like Artificial Intelligence. AI has aided in multiple fields by enhancing productivity and workflow. No current technologies are capable of replacing the AI capabilities. It is strongly believed by professionals that AI can also improve the performance of a cross supply chain management in any industry. As mentioned in the report - State of Artificial Intelligence for Enterprises, Supply Chain, and Operations are one of the top areas where businesses are driving revenue from AI investment.

Supply chain management is about product management from manufacturing units to retail stores. To keep the brand or company running, one needs to ensure that the supplied product meets its quality standards and the customers are served with the right product. AI is effective in managing such high performing systems where competition is high and updates or improvements are constant. AI is capable of performing massive and repetitive tasks as per pre-determined timelines and minimal errors.

AI in Supply Chain Management

AI is an advanced technology chosen due to its high computing speed and algorithmic advancements. According to the report by DHL and IBM named Artificial Intelligence in Logistics, AI has the combined power of three advanced technologies – supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and reinforcement learning – to determine the crucial factors impacting the performance of the supply chain domain. AI is adaptable to changes and upgrades. It can detect patterns and discover correlations within the data provided.

IBM’s Watson is a suite of tools and applications for controlling AI, that makes AI suitable for improving the efficiency of the supply chain. Watson can:

  • Accelerate Research and Delivery
  • Improve Communication
  • Anticipate and Preempt Disruptions
  • Make Recommendations
  • Scale Expertise and Learning
  • Detect Liabilities and Mitigate Risk

Good data and AI are both important in supply chain management. We need to ensure that the data input is accurate or the decision wouldn’t be the ideal despite the use of advanced technology. The inefficiency is of the data, not the system. AI can leverage the data and give you an accurate analysis based on a variety of factors, determine the factors affecting the performance of the supply chain, and make real-time decisions.

AI can increase the effectiveness of supply chain management by enabling improved customer service. AI predicts demand and optimizes the flow of the critical parts to keep the production running smoothly. This prevents loss due to issues related to two major factors: service and quality. Using Artificial intelligence to assist the functioning of the supply chain could be very beneficial for the domain. Here’s how:

Economic Benefits:

The costs of the supply chain can be reduced by using AI and ML-like reducing bad data, reduced working capital, better servicing, increased margins, and more accurate analysis. This proves AI as a cost-efficient technology.

Saves Time:

AI can automate numerous tasks for workers such as self-driving forklifts, automated sorting, and self-controlling systems and automated ground vehicles. AI can facilitate highly automated distribution centers. Amazon uses this technology for faster distribution. AI can also facilitate wondrous systems such as voice-based actuating systems or automated distribution. It automates repetitive tasks for your team so that they can work on more creative and strategic tasks or decisions.

Greater Efficiency:

AI helps visually inspect cargo in checking for damage using cameras. AI also offered a voice-based system to track parcels and get shipment information. AI provides the knowledge and assistance needed to respond to clients quicker hence better functioning of the system. AI can also make predictions based on trends in demand and alter the production quantities accordingly to make sure the customer expectations are met.

Accurate Analysis:

AI can analyze data like on-time in-full (OTIF) delivery details, trends in demands, inspections on goods, evaluations, consumer attributes, calculations, and provide information to use for future decisions. Consumers have a huge impact on the supply chain. It is necessary to plan supply production based on the patterns of purchases, demands, and complaints by consumers. After all, the decision about whether your product is sold or not is made by them. This way, AI can improve production planning and factory scheduling accuracy. Make sure your products are of good quality so that they are not returned by the customers. This information can be attained by installing automated software that keeps track of purchases and returns within the distribution centers.

AI can make comparisons and decisions based on analysis and perform many other complex calculations. It can present you with different choices and respective pros and cons. It is responsible for keeping the system updated by continuously adjusting the forecast based on real-time sales, weather, and other influencing factors. We need to build resilient systems that are fool-proof of such affecting factors.

Greater Quality:

AI helps visually inspect cargo in checking for damaged packages using cameras. AI also offers a voice-based system to track parcels and get shipment information ensuring the supply of safe, harmless, and high-quality products. During the current situation of COVID-19, the population is concerned about the dangerous effects of consuming unhealthy or contaminated products. People are more likely to trust local products where the source is traceable. This can be handled by the use of AI-empowered supply chain management, where a record trail of the possible export/import, contamination precautions are taken, etc can be made available for the consumers.

Dealing with losses due to the Outbreak

The pandemic has disrupted several industries and caused huge losses. The supply chain needs to tackle this situation and recover from the losses before it loses the customers. One idea is online marketing. This pandemic is an opportunity to improve the efficiency of the supply chain. However, the decrease in production is temporary and the supply-chain is believed to be able to bounce back to business.

Apps like Bigbasket connect with their customers online and transport the product to the user in reality. There is an increase in the prices and shortage of supply. The products on demand are protective equipment, food, and medicines. Industries are trying to set-up direct communication with local retailers to eliminate the need for intermediaries. AI can be used to increase the traceability and effectiveness of communications with customers. Artificial Intelligence can alleviate the chances of identifying the faulty or damaged supply of products and alerting the manufacturer or distributor prior to shipping the product to the customer.


AI does not “replace” humans, instead, it empowers them. AI isn’t capable of everything. In fact, nothing is. AI can aid your team by giving them time for more creative and strategic work and decision-making by automating the time-consuming tasks for you. Leverage AI to develop your implementations. It is also a difficult and time-taking job to aggregate resources to train AI and keep it updated on a regular basis.

To conclude, Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning may not be the perfect solution for supply-chain management but they can aid the supply chain in making better and more developed implementations in a time-efficient manner. AI makes sure the industry functions well and the customer is served well. Deploying AI would be highly recommended if you want to keep on track in this competitive world where change and development is constant.