The COVID-19 pandemic and critical product shortages have caused a significant strain on the global supply industry these last few years. The surge in e-commerce and consumer demand, along with public health challenges during the pandemic, put tension on manufacturing and distribution facilities worldwide. In addition, when most of the world shifted to offshore manufacturing just-in-time supply chain crunches, global supply chains became overstretched very quickly after COVID-19 appeared.
Companies had to slow down or stop the production of products as they dealt with staffing shortages, raw material shortages, or transportation issues. As a result, consumers worldwide have needed help getting their hands on necessities like N95 masks, medical supplies, and pharmaceuticals.
In some cases, companies could not maintain adequate inventory levels due to limited space available at warehouses and distribution centers. In other cases, there needed to be more bandwidth available to keep up with orders being placed online by customers who needed these items but could not find them locally in stores or pharmacies.
The supply chain crisis has led many manufacturers and consumers to consider alternative business methods. This new way must enable them to continue providing quality products while improving efficiency to meet customer demand at scale and reducing costs significantly.
In the case of COVID-19, AI can help solve supply chain issues by better understanding where inefficiencies are occurring and how to mitigate them. Below are some ways that AI can improve supply chain processes.
Stocking and managing inventory is a costly and time-consuming process for businesses. By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, warehouses can easily surpass previous hurdles of complicated data structures, incomplete communication records, and human error to build a sustainable inventory system.
AI can help automate your warehouse by tracking your equipment’s movements and making recommendations based on that data. It will also notify you when something goes wrong with one of your machines or devices, allowing you to track what needs fixing and when.
A data-informed AI system is well-equipped to forecast trends in any given supply chain process. The future of inventory supply and distribution requires businesses to stay ahead of the changing infrastructure and costs, be it fuel prices, shortages, or dead stock. Operators looking to streamline their supply chain process via artificial intelligence begin with a system audit, to collect mission-relevant data and highlight segments needing improvement.
Improve Inventory Management
Even before the pandemic, companies always looked for ways to improve their supply chain and inventory management. This is because they want to know that they’re not wasting money, especially when it comes to managing their inventory. The problem is that there are so many factors in the supply chain that it takes time for companies to track them all. AI can help with this by analyzing data, learning from past mistakes and successes, and helping businesses make better decisions about managing their inventory.
For example, say a company wants to know if it should use the same supplier for all its raw materials or change suppliers. The company can use AI to analyze data about past purchases of raw materials from different suppliers. In this case, AI helped the business to make a more informed decision about whether or not changing suppliers will save money or improve quality.
Quick Shipping Times
With a proper order tracking system that takes into account current estimates from preferred shipping vendors, a supplier can ensure the quickest possible delivery to the customer. AI-based service providers pair purchase orders with current inventory searches and available shipping lines, verifying the results and determining the best course instantaneously, while providing a drafted invoice to the purchaser.
Better Customer Service Experiences
Analytics systems can provide businesses with the tools and insight they need to provide the best possible customer experience. Automated sales campaigns, cadence suggestions, reorder notifications and immediate inventory updates are all within grasp for a sales process utilizing artificial intelligence.
Customers appreciate clean and consistent communication. Retain and grow your customer base by analyzing trends within the organization and the broader sector by leveraging an AI-based approach.