Machine learning is fast becoming an indispensable technology for end-to-end supply chain management. It enables market insights, demand forecasts, and risk management — all from complex data.
Machine Learning is a kind of artificial intelligence that permits an algorithm or a software program to research and alter without being explicitly programmed. It educates itself over time in ways that could enhance its operations.
Machine Learning typically makes use of observations or statistics. Patterns within these statistics, blended with anticipated and actual outcomes, are analyzed via machine learning to improve the functions of technology. This cycle repeats, and the increase in information continuously refines the technology.
Machine Learning has numerous applications within the supply chain, including statistical analysis, supply chain optimization, forecasting, and cost reduction.
It also can assist corporations in creating a machine intelligence supply chain model that can be used to mitigate risks enhance insights and performance levels, all of which are essential in constructing a competitive supply chain model.
The study by Gartner in 2020 indicates that high benefit technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will revolutionize the current supply chain models. The result will be enhanced growth and profits combined with reduced costs.
There are numerous benefits that machine learning offers to the supply chain model, including:
AI and Machine Learning can deliver extraordinary value to supply chain and logistics operations. From cost reduction to risk mitigation to improved supply chain forecasting and speedy deliveries via optimized routes, the demand for ML for the supply chain has increased exponentially.
The data collected by McKinsey shows up to a 61% reduction in costs and up to a 53% increase in sales due to introducing Ai in the supply chain. Elucidated under are ways in which machine learning is revolutionizing the supply chain towards the direction of optimization and efficiency –
Inventory & Warehouse Management
One of the most challenging issues the supply chain industry face is maintaining optimum inventory levels to avoid ‘no stock’ situations. As overstocking leads to high storage costs, achieving perfect stability becomes an essential concern of a firm.
Machine learning principles are applied to demand forecasting to deliver accurate predictions related to future demand levels. This empowers the decision-makers with data-driven operations. They can maintain the perfect stock level at all times without spending more on storage, etc.
Automated Quality Inspections For Robust Management
Logistics hubs used to rely on manual inspections to check the quality of packages or containers for damage that may have taken place during transit.
Machine Learning enables such quality inspections in the supply chain via automated evaluation of defects via image recognition and other software. This effective inspection method lessens the chances of delivering faulty or defective goods to consumers.
Transportation & Logistics
Machine Learning helps keep track of the package in the logistics cycle. It also provides detailed information regarding the conditions in which the parcel is being transported. Sensors help monitor the parameters like vibrations, humidity, temperature, etc.
Machine learning also facilitates real-time route optimization by keeping climate and roadblocks. This helps in changing the routes to reduce driving time & avoid any damage to the package and in supply chain analytics as well.
Production planning & scheduling
Establishing an end-to-end process becomes complicated for supply chain managers in demand fluctuation, globalization, etc. A smart supply chain framework can be implemented via machine learning.
It can help predict bottlenecks and unexpected abnormalities, resulting in streamlining production scheduling. Furthermore, AI in the supply chain also leads to accurate predictions and quantifications across different scheduling stages that can be reduced in the execution stage before it can lead to any damage.
Streamlining ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)
Machine Learning in supply chain and logistics facilitates streamlining the ERP framework, making it future-ready, connecting data, processes, and people elegantly. It becomes more receptive over time and processes enormous volumes of data, quantifies and ranks it to give accurate predictions proactively.
For instance, all ERP’s generate an abundance of data. However, most companies don’t know what to do with the data. Machine Learning helps analyze the data to find new business opportunities and increase revenue.
Machine learning algorithms improve product quality and decrease the chances of fraud via automated inspections and auditing processes. It is accompanied by real-time analysis to detect deviations or anomalies in the results.
Reduction in Costs and Response Time
Machine Learning techniques are used to trigger automated responses to handle the supply and demand imbalances. The ML algorithm analyzes real-time data and historical records for enhanced productivity achieved via route optimization, reduced cost and time.
Reduction in forecast errors
Machine Learning is a sturdy analytical tool that assists supply delivery chain companies in processing large volumes of data.
The data is processed with the most significant variability through IoT devices, telematics, smart transportation systems, etc. This enhances the company’s insights and helps in obtaining accurate forecasts. A report by McKinsey stated that implementations based on machine learning in the supply chain could reduce the errors related to forecasts by 50%.
How a Technology Solution Provider Can Help
While most supply chains want to use Machine Learning for the many benefits it provides, most of them face challenges in preparing a suitable model. Not every Machine Learning model is the same. The efficiency of a Machine Learning algorithm depends on the data ingested in it.
Technology solution providers are the experts who can bring together all the required data to train a Machine Learning algorithm so that you can leverage all its benefits in the supply chain. Most solution providers also help combine Machine Learning with the Internet of Things (IoT).
As IoT can gather and transfer real-time data, it helps Machine Learning algorithms provide optimal benefits through real-time data analysis. For instance, one of the technology solutions providers has taken the trucking industry technology to the parcel delivery technology and its optimization.
The solution provider has leveraged Machine Learning and IoT to improve Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) efficiency. IoT devices capture driver behavior through images and send the data to Machine Learning algorithms that help predict ETS.
Such trucks can help streamline and bring transparency to the supply chain, which is one of the biggest challenge facing the industry. Similarly, a technology solution provider can help create custom solutions to address your specific supply chain challenges.
Role of Machine Learning in Supply Chains: Machine Learning plays a vital role in improving the efficiency of supply chains. It eases dealing with demanding situations of forecasting and volatility in the supply chains. To achieve the complete advantages of machine learning, organizations must plot for the future and start investing in machine learning and other related technologies.