Artificial Intelligence (AI) - though still in its infant stages of evolution - is changing how industries are doing things. It’s the driving force behind innovations in the fields of technology, healthcare, and now logistics.
The adoption of AI and machine language in this industry will revolutionize how customers receive their packages. If implemented correctly, supply companies will be able to meet and even surpass customers’ expectations.
But it’s not only about the customers. Using AI, logistics companies will enjoy increased efficiency and reduced costs. Plus, fewer challenges throughout the delivery chain. What’s even interesting, AI systems can analyze data from various sources, allowing these companies to anticipate problems on time and make informed decisions.
Now, let’s look at several ways Artificial Intelligence has revolutionized the logistics industry.
1. Predictive Intelligence
In the supply chain and logistics industry, companies make use of various modes of transportation to deliver packages to end-users. These include road, rail, air, and maritime. Each means of transportation comes with its own fair share of challenges that inhibit the supply process. Therefore, there's a need for a system that can predict these problems in time so supply companies can have the upper hand.
The predictive capabilities of AI systems are helping suppliers reduce risks and anticipate events that can disrupt the supply process. Such systems collect and analyze data about trucks, trains, and planes to predict possible failures and schedule repairs.
AI also plays a role in demand forecasting. Companies can feed historical data and several external variables into AI systems to create and implement demand forecasting models. Using the models, they can accurately predict shipment demand all through the supply pipeline.
Combined with machine language, AI can analyze data from social media platforms and process unstructured texts to inform suppliers of possible risks. Alternatively, the technology can capture the opinions expressed in online conversations to identify potential issues with the supply system.
2. Self-Driving Vehicles
We still have several years before autonomous vehicles can roam the road. Nevertheless, self-driving AI technology is already being tested by companies like Tesla.
The logistic industry will enjoy significant benefits resulting from the adoption of autonomous vehicles. These vehicles have the potential to decrease human error in the industry. Therefore, boosting vehicle safety and ensuring packages reach their destinations undamaged.
Self-driving vehicles can also boost delivery efficiency. The AI systems in the trucks will process huge amounts of data, thus making well-informed split-second decisions. Without human intervention, the system can identify the best routes to reduce time on the road.
Besides that, self-driving AI can help reduce costs (fuel, time, and damage), improve fuel efficiency, and reduce delivery time.
Despite all these benefits, there are a lot of safety concerns about autonomous trucks. Engineers are yet to figure out how to eliminate the risk of dangerous accidents because of software or hardware malfunctions.
Luckily, microchips companies like NVIDIA are working on designing chips that can respond more accurately to real-world road conditions. Also, car manufacturing companies like Tesla and Volkswagen are trying to develop autonomous vehicles with effective safety technologies.
Currently, supply companies can utilize improved driver assistance technologies like such as lane-assist, assisted braking, and highway autopilot. Enhanced driving systems help reduce fuel costs and improve truck utilization.
3. Computer Vision-Based AI
Our brain can identify and process whatever we see. That’s the same case with computer vision-based AI. These computers capture images and videos and decode the data to help users solve problems and make decisions.
In the logistics industry, these computers improve the productivity of supply companies by enhancing traceability and reducing costs. Most processes in the supply chain industry, like handling of products and managing the warehouse, require manual labor. Human labor is time-consuming and costly.
However, companies that leverage the power of computer vision can optimize their logistics processes. For example, in inbound logistics, computer vision aided by AI can determine the precise dimensions of products and classify the packages.
Likewise, computer vision ensures accurate labeling by confirming labels and identifying those that require replacement. Its use also extends to order fulfillment. The machine vision technology verifies every product before shipping. In addition, the technology can help to categorize and sort packages.
AI-based computer vision is invaluable in damage identification during shipping. By analyzing captured images and videos from cameras installed on train tracks, the system identifies the cause of damage and its depth. From there, it can take the appropriate action to reduce any additional damage.
Additionally, computer vision AI can help in the quick loading and offloading of packages in warehouses. The technology locates the products in the warehouse autonomously, reducing the time needed to go through the inventory list.
4. Logistic Robots
AI-based robots are a game-changer in the supply chain and logistics industry. With the help of these robots, conducting routine operations is much easier. Robots help in transportation, packing, routing, and picking packages. Also, when used in the warehouse, they trace, move, and arrange packages based on their categories. They’re fast and more accurate and can handle oversize packages.
As you might have figured out, regular industrial robots can undertake the tasks we’ve mentioned above. AI-based are unique in several ways. The combination of AI for logistics and deep learning algorithms allows these robots to be autonomous.
They can learn from every experience while executing complicated and new tasks. Over time, they can evolve and conduct logistic operations effectively without the intervention of humans. Basically, they’re smart robots that can make their own decision for several tasks, from identifying to storing packages.
Since they can pick and move items in a warehouse faster and more accurately, chances are, in a few decades, they will completely replace human labor. All humans will have to do is define the environment these smart robots work in and the tasks they can conduct. However, there's also the need for a reward system. These systems can help robots identify tasks that can generate high levels of rewards as they learn.
Smart robots can also learn to solve problems like humans or much better. Thus, increasing efficiency and productivity within the supply chain system.
The potential of robotic technology can extend to the distribution of packages. Autonomous Drones programmed with deep learning algorithms can make accurate deliveries of packages. What’s even better, these drones can carry packages over land and water.
5. Capitalizing on Big Data
The benefits of AI and Big Data in most industries today are undeniable. However, these are not new concepts in the logistics industry. As a fact, logistics businesses have utilized the power of Telematics for several years to track railway, ocean, trucking, and air freight via satellites.
But for decades, these companies have failed to use the collected data fully until recently. With the help of AI systems, demand forecasting and predictive analysis in logistics are now possible.
But there’s a catch! Data in the supply and logistic industry keeps on growing and changing consistently. This calls for a well-maintained AI management solution that can handle and process all these new datasets and variables.
Capitalizing on Big Data helps companies to process and leverage data in more actionable ways. AI analytics allow companies to introduce all data collected and evaluate it. From there, they can find patterns and gain insights into every aspect of their supply chains. By doing this, an organization can save on cost, make timely deliveries and identify issues plaguing its supply chain.
Logistics companies that will fail to master Big Data management might have a hard time standing out in the market and making profits. It’s vital for businesses in the supply sector to collect, process, and understand data from multiple sources. The source can include historical delivery statistics, geopolitical implications, social media data, weather data, etc.
By analyzing data in real-time, they can gain a deeper understanding of how to streamline their operation and manage their business success. In fact, over 91 percent of the top 1000 corporations listed by Fortune have invested in Big Data.
At every stage of the supply chain process, the logistics team must have a clear picture of their data. This way, they can act on the data in real-time proactively and with great agility.
As you can see, AI has several applications in the supply chain and logistics industry, and this is just the beginning. One thing is for sure, AI for logistics is transforming this sector for the better. From warehouse workflow to reduced fuel consumption, this technology has brought several changes to the industry, once thought impossible.
As this technology continues to evolve, both supply chain companies and consumers will enjoy many benefits. Also, it’s imperative for businesses in this field to embrace these new technologies. Embracing AI, IoT, and machine language will allow them to optimize their operations and stand out from their competition.
Do you wish to learn more about the applications of AI in the logistics industry? Well, attend our meeting and gain more info on Artificial Intelligence, automation, and big data.