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Is The Logistics Industry Ready For Artificial Intelligence?

Thursday, 4 April 2019 at 12:53

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As in all industry, logistics today involves routine and repetitive work. But unlike industries such as manufacturing and retail, where AI is already well on its way to relieving humans of such work and freeing them up for more creative tasks, a similar transformation is only just beginning in logistics.

The advantages of such a transformation, however, are significant, and they touch virtually every aspect of the industry, from the back office to operations to customer-facing activities. Today, as AI becomes more accessible and more effective, the time is right for industry leaders to embrace the technology to improve their businesses.

 AI will extend human expertise in terms of reach, quality, and velocity by eliminating boring and routine work, allowing logistics companies around the world to focus on more important work.

Logistics companies can learn from the AI advancements driving change in other industries to inspire their own innovations. In the retail industry, AI-based computer vision is already in development to track an item’s brand, labels, logos, and price tags. The technology can also provide detailed insights into a shelf’s performance, including how much space is available and which items are out of stock. This technology has similar applications, the authors argue, in the logistics industry.

AI-based computer vision could also come in handy in the sorting of letters, parcels, and palletized shipments. In the industry today, sorting is a challenging, manual process that requires a sophisticated array of conveyors, scanning infrastructure, handling equipment and personnel. To streamline this proccess, the authors suggest, the logistics industry should look to the AI-driven robotics innovations in the recycling industry. 

Cutting-edge AI-based solutions could also help improve order preparation in logistics warehouses. Operators in many supply chains already use voice applications to collect items for an order, but those applications typically been limited in their capabilities, meaning operators have had to rely on mostly scripted responses to use them. More advanced AI-based systems, however, could allow operators to interact with those systems like they would with any other person.

The ability to automate input, storage, and retrieval of information via conversational voice interaction removes time and complexity from many warehousing tasks that require manual input or lookup of information.

Today, logistics is already something of a modern marvel. But with AI applied across the industry, it could provide feats even more incredible. 

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