Artificial Intelligence AI in logistics

Artificial Intelligence AI in logistics

Artificial Intelligence AI is driving a multidimensional transformation in logistics. Industries and distribution companies can now analyze data and predict behaviors or trends in the market with astonishing accuracy and speed.

In addition, with AI it is possible to address traditional logistics challenges, such as improving delivery times, saving fuel, managing unplanned outages, reducing operating costs, increasing the safety of operations, better managing stock, etc.

In this article we explore the strategic use of Artificial Intelligence technologies in logistics planning, warehouse and transportation management. In addition, we explain how AI is being leveraged to optimize energy consumption.

How can AI expand logistics capabilities?

Recall that computer systems driven by AI and Machine Learning are capable of compiling and analyzing large data sets, in order to learn to perform complex human tasks, such as reasoning, planning and predicting at high speed, and with high reliability.

This advanced AI data analysis represents a valuable tool for making better decisions within logistics processes, with the goal of:

  • Optimize storage and transport operations.

  • Predict claims.

  • Order planning.

  • Prevent errors.

  • Detect risk factors, etc.

For example, the textile, apparel and fashion industry has led the way in the use of AI in its logistics and manufacturing processes. It employs machine vision and advanced image analysis to detect faults in garments. It also employs intelligent systems to monitor the condition of garments during transportation.

Let’s take a look at the many logistics fields in which Artificial Intelligence can be applied.

 

AI and planning

In logistics, AI’s ability to analyze huge amounts of data and forecast behaviors is especially useful in predictive planning in various areas of logistics: 

Demand forecast 

Software driven by intelligent algorithms, such as WMS warehouse management systems or advanced ERP Enterprise Resource Planning systems, have the ability to process large volumes of data in real time and compare it with historical data (yields, sales, orders, returns…), in order to recognize patterns, detect trends and determine demand accurately. 

AI can even simulate multiple possible scenarios to make it easier for leaders to make decisions. In general, this helps companies optimize schedules, select transportation, improve inventory management, etc. 

Route optimization 

AI-driven transportation management systems can identify the most efficient delivery routes by analyzing historical data, such as traffic patterns, weather events, vehicle capacities, customer preferences, and road characteristics. 

In addition, these intelligent systems address unforeseen disruptions, such as roadblocks or traffic jams, by facilitating real-time route adjustments and rerouting vehicles to other available roads. In this way, delivery time, fuel consumption and transportation costs are minimized. 

Inventory management 

Intelligent algorithms, such as advanced WMS or ERP, can also analyze sales data, company lead times, production or order schedules, and budget and storage space constraints. All in order to determine minimum stock levels, dynamically adjust them and establish replenishment routines. 

The advantage is to be able to make more efficient decisions to adjust distribution strategies. In addition, the risks of stock-outs or overstocking are eliminated and it is possible to detect slow-moving or slow-moving products. 

AI can even predict peak demand for each type of product, based on the time of year. In this way, it helps prevent sudden stock-outs and gain greater control over the budget. 

AI for process and task automation 

Automation of logistics processes goes beyond replacing labor. AI systems, especially those that integrate Machine Learning algorithms, can make intelligent decisions and adapt their capabilities to changing situations. 

This intelligent automation can be implemented in various areas of logistics. For example: 

  • Automating document management. Thanks to technologies such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR), intelligent document management software accelerates and automates data entry and file classification and search. These capabilities reduce human error and improve operational efficiency. 
  • The physical automation of the warehouse. This intelligent automation can be carried out by means of: 
  • Intelligent solutions for goods registration, packing, sealing or case opening. For example, automatic case erectors on overhead conveyors and automatic carton erectors. 
  • AI-assisted robots. They handle complex operations, such as sorting, picking, packing and transporting goods within the warehouse, without requiring human intervention. Moreover, their capabilities are evolving and they can learn new tasks. For example, automated guided vehicles AGVs. 
  • Automation through software. Advanced WMS warehouse management systems have the ability to predict future demand patterns, automate notifications and task assignments to operators, and optimize space utilization. In this way, AI helps to adapt and organize the warehouse for the company’s future needs. 
  • Automation of order preparation, using the following systems: 
  • AMR autonomous mobile robots, which are equipped with sensors to navigate the warehouse and retrieve items without risk of collision. 
  • Robotic arms, powered by AI and computer vision systems, to identify and pick items, with high accuracy and speed. 

AI in anomaly detection

AI systems are often combined with IoT devices to monitor the status of vehicles and machinery to detect unusual sounds or performance patterns that indicate potential problems. In this way, the company can respond quickly to any failures, avoid downtime or minimize the impact of downtime on operations. 

  • These devices include interconnected sensors that collect data in real time and send it via a network (ethernet, wi-fi…) to intelligent route or inventory analysis and management software. Basically, IoT devices can track packages, containers and vehicles, both inside the warehouse and during shipment, to detect geo-referenced position, vibrations, weights, temperatures, etc. 

In addition, computer vision technology can be integrated into machines or robots to continuously monitor the production line or assess the quality of the product to be stored or delivered, identifying defects and generating automatic alerts for operators to intervene in a timely manner. 

  • The computer vision system consists of high-resolution cameras and advanced software that interprets the captured images. It has the ability to detect and recognize objects and movements. Once it identifies an item, it sends commands to other systems to perform specific tasks. 
  • For example, this technology can be used for automated container unloading. The “digital” vision system identifies each item as it leaves the container and ensures that it is handled properly. This ensures product integrity. 

AI in sustainable logistics

Artificial Intelligence also redefines energy consumption in logistics, helping to design efficient and sustainable warehouses. The use of Machine Learning systems with the integration of IoT devices gives companies the ability to evaluate and adjust, in real time, the use of energy. For example, it is possible: 

  • Automate the lighting and air conditioning system, so that it is activated according to the occupation of the space and external weather conditions. This is the way to ensure that only the necessary energy is used. 
  • Continuously monitor energy consumption in factories and warehouses to identify the areas of greatest waste and take effective measures to reduce consumption. 
  • Analyze both warehouse electricity demands and usage patterns in order to anticipate future energy needs and the possibility of optimizing resources. 

All this helps to reduce energy costs, comply with energy regulations and minimize the environmental impact of logistics. 

As an engineering company we maintain a continuous focus on technological innovation and sustainability. We specialize in the custom development of eco-efficient automated solutions for industrial intralogistics, especially to drive the textile and fashion industry forward.

 

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