Artificial intelligence (AI) plays an increasingly central role in this era of transformation, with many industries having already successfully adopted AI.
For example, the engineering and manufacturing industries uses AI in their production lines to help streamline production and maintenance through image recognition and conversational interfaces.
In the automotive industry, AI is being called upon extensively to enhance the self-learning capabilities of autonomous vehicles. Following the successful use cases for AI in the consumer world, all eyes are on the potential of AI to transform the industrial sector. A recent joint collaborative report by DHL and IBM examined the implications and use cases for the logistics industry in 2018. In “Artificial Intelligence in Logistics”, the world’s leading logistics service provider joined with an AI innovator to evaluate the potential of AI in logistics. The report revealed how it could be best applied to transform the industry, giving rise to a new class of intelligent logistics assets and operational paradigms.
While AI is already ubiquitous in the consumer realm, as demonstrated by the rapid growth of voice assistant applications, DHL and IBM found that AI technologies are maturing rapidly, allowing for additional applications for logistics. These can help logistics providers enrich customer experiences through conversational engagement and even anticipate new orders before the customer places the order.
With the help of AI, the logistics industry will shift its operating model from reactive actions to a proactive and predictive paradigm, which will generate better insights at favourable costs in the back office, operational and customer-facing activities.
For example, AI technologies can use advanced image recognition to track the conditions of shipments and assets, bring end-to-end autonomy to transportation or predict fluctuations in global shipment volumes before they occur. AI is able to augment human capabilities and fundamentally extend human efficiency in terms of reach, quality and speed by eliminating mundane and routine work, thus enabling the logistics workforce to be shifted to more meaningful and value-added work.
By leveraging AI into core processes, companies can invest more in strategic growth imperatives to modernise or eliminate legacy application systems. This can make existing assets and infrastructure more efficient, while providing the workforce with time to enhance their skills and capabilities.
Although the trend of AI is prevalent in consumer-facing applications and clerical enterprise functions and will redefine the structure of the logistics workforce in the future, a skilled workforce remains the key to unlocking the potential of the logistics supply chain as talented people are still a major driver in the industry.
While logistics companies at the digital forefront would attract technologically savvy millennial talents, it is important to also ensure that current employees with valuable experience are provided with the necessary training to keep up with digital processes.
is managing director of DHL