Supply Chain Discussion: The State of AI and Robotics Today
In this discussion, Deborah Surrette, (chief commercial officer of GreyOrange; who are a robotics and automation company) talks about the latest trends in robotics and artificial intelligence. Also the benefits of the technology, and some misconceptions about AI in the supply chain.
Artificial intelligence is very much in the news today, driven in large part by dramatic recent developments in “generative” AI, in the form of ChatGPT and similar large language models. We have written about it here.
But AI’s potential extends well beyond that capability, especially when it comes to applications for the extended supply chain.
AI can play an important role in tying together the many disparate automation systems that make up a typical distribution operation, Surrette says. Not all types of automation are made by any one vendor, of course, and there’s a pressing need for a “cleaner way to orchestrate” all of those applications.
There is, however, a danger that the excitement over AI could cause companies to move too fast and adopt systems that aren’t suitable to their needs. Competition in the world of order fulfillment and delivery is fierce, and when one company embraces new technology, “everybody wants to keep pace.” It’s therefore vital, Surrette says, to educate adopters about the kind of technology that will suit them best.
That said, AI has the potential to realize value at every stage of the supply chain, including manufacturing, fulfillment and distribution. In particular, it can bring a new level of intelligence to the key areas of raw materials, sustainability and basic business processes.
A modern-day warehouse consists of thousands of moving parts and processes, making it tough for facilities to monitor and respond to conditions on a real-time basis. Carefully laid out plans can be disrupted by a single failure in the system. AI, Surrette says, enables the organization “to make decisions that allow business processes to continue moving smoothly.”
At Nucleus, we continue to watch this space with interest and are eager to learn how AI could improve our own supply chain optimization operations for our clients.