No longer the stuff of movies, artificial intelligence (AI) has moved into real life. We use it for everything from running our homes to working our mobile devices. AI has also significantly contributed to developments in business and Industry 4.0, revolutionizing everything we thought we knew. There’s no doubt that AI has also transformed warehouse management and supply chain logistics.
Warehouses have been highly automatic for some time already, using robots to reach items on higher shelves or transport items across a warehouse. These repetitive tasks, while automated, are still not considered artificial intelligence. While advances are being made in robotics that can “learn” to recognize more than 10,000 different items of varying shapes and sizes to fulfil and quality check an order in a warehouse, mainstreaming that technology is still as far as 50 years off.
That doesn’t mean AI isn’t already transforming logistics and warehouse management. Take a look at these five ways it’s already making an appearance to revolutionize logistics and lay the foundation for more sophisticated AI and machine learning in the future.
Integrating automated systems broadens communication between them, sending information faster than a human could communicate. When all your logistics systems begin using artificial intelligence to “talk” to each other, learning processes will enable the machines to render constant analysis of data streams. This leads to real-time adjustments to workflow and management. If one system receives information that a shipment is arriving late, it can automatically adjust the orders being packed, route product appropriately when it does arrive, and adjust deliverables as needed.
AI can also take existing logistics systems and optimize them to upgrade warehouse management. For example, calculating the number of pallets to move and the equipment required to manage the maneuver used to be processed manually, relying on variables like SKUs and operator skill levels. With machine learning algorithms in place, data will inform more detailed stock movement forecasting and management, fine tuning processes and handling. Not only does this minimize errors and reduce processing time, it also plays into increased efficiencies and productivity.
Speaking of productivity, artificial intelligence in logistics will inform managers with data to leverage the most efficient pickers on their teams, If you have slotting software, you’re probably already leveraging the interface that will recommend a SKU strategy based on sales histories and forecasts. Many companies still rely on human knowledge and experience to manage their slotting strategy. Be prepared for this to eventually phase out in favor of machine learning algorithms.
Barcode scanning is currently high on the list of inventory management technology for logistics. Many services allow scanning via mobile phone apps, decreasing training time for seasonal and temporary employees. Following quickly on that tech’s heels is radio frequency identification, or RFID. These digital tags provide more precise inventory control. Their wide capture range allows items to be tracked and managed as products move around the warehouse, collecting data that artificial intelligence can eventually process to use for adjusting order processing and increasing productivity.
While we’re not quite to the point where robots are replacing humans for the more detailed picking and packing work in a warehouse, AI is already transforming logistics through robotics. Currently, robots are employed to move goods faster and more safely than a human can. With machine learning and AI, warehouse robots are updated with more efficient picking and slotting routes, even perhaps the ability to select packaging based on the size, weight, and type of product in an order. Trial robotics in Germany are already beginning to pack products themselves using AI to “teach” themselves what new items are, though full adoption of that tech will take some time.
The Real Intelligence: AI Technology Partners
Preparing for artificial intelligence in your logistics business is less about finding the right machine learning solutions and more about finding the right partner who can prepare you now for the AI future ahead. At PositiveVision, we have a passion for helping businesses get the right software support for their business growth. Whether you’re ready to dive into AI as soon as possible or still exploring how to set up for future adoption, find out how our team can help in your preparations. Get more information on all our business software solutions here.
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