It’s uncertain when the next supply chain disruption is going to hit or what type of disruption it will be. Disruptions could be triggered anywhere, be it changing customer preferences and priorities – as reflected in rapid fluctuations in demand – or a supplier’s inability to produce on time due to material shortages, or perhaps there will be significant shipping delays due to port congestion or labor strike. And, of course, there are also disruptions stemming from major weather events and geo-political changes, which can occur with little warning.
The key to getting ahead of disruptions is detecting them as early as possible, assessing the impact on the supply chain and the business, and quickly making informed decisions about how to manage them. AI is an enabler that can be leveraged across the supply chain. Just within planning, it can help in managing demand planning and driving agile production planning and sustainable materials planning. With AI, it’s possible to prepare for the next curveball, even the ones that are difficult to anticipate.
The Impact of AI in Supply Chain Planning
Through AI, you can quickly and accurately analyze historical trends, along with current events – both internal and external – and emerging trends to help you make decisions that position you to get ahead of the curve in all phases of the planning process. For example, with demand planning, new product introduction, corresponding trade promotion and like product cannibalization combined with historical data can help to anticipate the production needs of products that see seasonal spikes in sales. And with data regarding current events and trends, AI can give companies the power to quickly adapt to sudden changes, such as unexpected shifts in consumer behavior, before they turn into red lines on the financial sheets.
Further, at the production planning and scheduling phase, AI helps manage needs related to what we call the three M’s: machine, material and manpower availability. Are there labor shortages due to COVID-related disruptions? Is there sufficient capacity to meet your sudden change in product variants? With materials planning, AI can also help with factors like supplier production capacity and lead time, which are factors that often go overlooked.
A prerequisite for AI-enabled solutions is good data quality and reliability. It’s important for AI to have access to as much data as possible that will help you reach your goals, but in many cases, data is siloed or there are issues with data being incomplete or inaccurate. Including this as part of your strategy is an important step in ensuring you get the best results from AI while simultaneously improving data access throughout your organization.
Finding the Right AI Solutions
Every company has unique needs when it comes to AI and data analytics. Bristlecone offers digital consulting services and provides AI-powered supply chain solutions that drive speed, visibility, automation and resiliency, helping your business better reach its goals.