Artificial intelligence and augmented reality glasses may sound like ideas out of a science fiction blockbuster, but in today's logistics industry, they're becoming increasingly common. To that end, any companies that haven't yet moved to adopt next-gen technologies of this type – or others – may end up falling behind the competition in an increasingly cutthroat field.
When it comes to AI, what many may not realize is that it's being used for many things people now use in their everyday lives, and can provide a big boost for logistics companies in particular, according to Supply Chain Management Review. The reason for this is simple: It can be used to replace a lot of the tedious data entry and management that many warehouses with legacy ERP platforms have to deal with, making those processes more accurate and efficient. However, previous experiences in the industry show there are both right and wrong ways to implement AI for the supply chain.
Get it right
For instance, the data AI systems collate should be coming into the system in real time, rather than companies updating it every few hours or even at the end of a workday, the report said. As more warehouses empower employees to scan in tracking data throughout the day, the ability to funnel all that back from multiple channels into one repository, and have the AI turn that disparate data into actionable information is crucial.
The good news is that as time goes on, the way these AI systems work will improve itself, making processes even more efficient and empowering better decisions overall. But doing so requires that the information the AI puts together be easily accessible from anywhere within a facility to anyone who needs it, such as by showing workers the most efficient paths to the items they need to pick in real time.
Meanwhile, where augmented reality comes into this equation is putting all the right information literally in front of workers' faces, according to Shack News. With AR technology – which is gaining traction in warehouses worldwide – connected to smooth-running AI systems, workers gain a whole new level of insight into how best to do their jobs. One test run of an AR system for the shipping giant DHL found it increased worker efficiency by 15 percent, which can improve bottom lines and boost customer satisfaction simultaneously.
It's about visibility
Indeed, the goal for any logistics firm should be to track items at every step of the supply chain so that both they and their customers or clients know exactly where everything is at all times, according to the Internet of Business. And while the industry is certainly progressing in that direction, it's not there yet even for some of the biggest companies with the most clout, and smaller ones still lag behind.
The more companies can do with AI and AR, the better off they're likely to be in terms of meeting the future of the logistics sector head-on. That, in turn, can prepare them for whatever changes they need to make further down the road.