AI and the Supply Chain: What’s in Store in ’24?, Maxime Vermeir, SupplyChainBrain.com, December 20, 2023
The turbulence of the last few years has left supply chains with a sense of urgency to future-proof their operations.
It’s widely accepted that automation and digitization will be at the heart of achieving the resilience, agility, efficiency, and sustainability needed to meet changing demands. But automation employing artificial intelligence isn’t just about headline-grabbing tech like exoskeletons, driverless delivery vehicles and drone shipping.
The transportation and logistics industry is still lagging far behind other sectors in taking basic steps toward automation of manual processes. According to Accenture research, 76% of transport and logistics firms believe that a continued lack of focus on digital abilities will seriously damage their business.
So what’s the outlook for 2024? Following are some ideas about what lies ahead, and how AI can help business leaders respond to market challenges.
A rise in digital agents. The most impactful use of AI in transportation and logistics won’t be in state-of-the-art robotics on the warehouse floor; it will be in the hands of logistics workers. AI-powered software, or “digital agents,” will read and understand the most complex forms such as commercial invoices, bills of lading, waybills and packing lists, to streamline the movement of goods across borders and provide freight forwarders with valuable insights into their data. It will push time-consuming manual paperwork into oblivion and allow bots to do the work more quickly and accurately.
A great example of this in action concerns new customs rules at the EU/U.K. border caused by Brexit. A large manufacturer of frozen pastry goods from the EU was able to reduce customs clearance times from one hour to just five minutes by using digital agents, enabling speedy extraction from complex documents with 100% accuracy and submission to national customs systems without the need for any manual review.