This is part 3 of a 3-part blog, addressing the 3 questions below.
Part 1 – What is Industry 4.0?
Part 2 – Where does Supply Chain figure in Industry 4.0?
Part 3 – What is the role of AI in Supply Chain for Industry 4.0?
You can find Part 1 here.
You can find Part 2 here.
Artificial Intelligence in Industry 4.0, Digital Supply Networks
In the first two parts of this article we covered Industry 4.0 basics and looked at Digital Supply Networks. We understood how automation and the internet of things come together to create a connected world that personifies Industry 4.0. We saw how systems and applications could integrate and coalesce into this massive, constantly evolving and adapting organism called a Digital Supply Network. Automation, connections and integration provide the physical structure of the digital supply network. Artificial Intelligence infuses life into this organism and makes it functional.
AI Steps Up
Digital Supply Networks derive their true benefit by being responsive, adaptive and real time. Without any of these characteristics, they would not be able to differentiate from traditional supply chains. These characteristics require that the supply chain be able to handle whatever is thrown at it, accommodate umpteen scenarios, learn new paths, optimize for cost, utilization and other factors, all of this in near real time and round the clock.
The supply chain needs quick, intelligent, optimal decisions all the time. Artificial Intelligence has come of age and makes this possible. Distilled human intelligence in the form of algorithms, machine learning, neural networks that discern patterns, insights from analytics and statistical routines that use them with “current” information all facilitate real time decision making by systems. Rule and role based human oversight bring in the ability to tap expert intelligence for critical decisions and approvals.
AI takes over tasks that humans perform and provides consistent quality output, in much lesser time. Tremendous improvements in computational power and toolsets have given plenty of teeth to AI. The AI systems in Digital Supply Networks take care of planning and scheduling, allocation of resources, process customization and optimization.
Real world applications
Let us look at some specific applications of AI in supply chain.
Artificial Intelligence’s true power comes to the fore when it goes beyond automation of mundane human decisions, to working with factors that do not model easily, learning from data, dealing with numerous complex factors, large scale, quick turn-around needs.
As we saw from the potential applications listed above the intelligence is distributed across sub-systems. The federation of these intelligent subsystems creates a powerful collective intelligence where each subsystem provides stimuli/inputs to other subsystems.
This brings us to a conclusion of the 3 part-article. Embracing Industry 4.0 entails big changes to processes, organization ethos, skillsets and infrastructure. It opens up revolutionary possibilities and readies organizations for a new age economy. Take steps today to stay ahead of the curve and participate in creating and shaping the new age economy. Coming soon! How to get started with your Industry 4.0 journey.