How AI is changing logistics processes

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has long since arrived in logistics as well. Recently, I had the pleasure of moderating an exciting discussion on the topic "Quo Vadis, AI? Vision versus reality - a reality check". The question: Where do we stand in the logistics industry today? Concrete use cases that were presented revolved primarily around optimization and forecasting, be it flow of goods ("AI as a dispatcher"), be it arrival forecasts (in rail freight transport) or demand forecasts to make more reliable predictions, especially in the case of volatile demand behavior.

AI-based applications also exist in many other processes, such as the optimization of machinery and equipment, for example in the service sector through predictive maintenance. What we must not forget: AI is also creeping into our more mundane everyday work, whether as support for writing emails or texts, translations, design suggestions for presentations, or even special applications in engineering or development.

lWe should ask ourselves: Honestly, where does AI really make sense and is it also economical to optimize logistics processes this way?r

Influencing the whole value chain

In the future, AI will be able to influence all processes along the value chain; I am firmly convinced. Today, data is generated and accumulates almost everywhere, and missing data points can be collected with appropriate sensors. But where to start? In my opinion, we should ask ourselves: Honestly, where does AI really make sense and is it also economical to optimize logistics processes this way? Data processing costs storage and server capacities, and the development of corresponding applications can require significant investments.

Automated warehouse management, the core of Körber's Business Area Supply Chain, will also benefit from AI, whether by optimizing individual machines, entire warehouse management systems or the control of internal material flows. Especially in automated warehouses, there are plenty of different data sources – the questions are: Where exactly do we start? When and where does the use of AI-supported applications lead to added value?
It is crucial to build appropriate expertise within the company to precisely identify processes that can be optimized by AI to add real value.

One such application from Körber's digital portfolio is "Operator Eye" – this application supports the machine operator of our LayerPicker, a palletizing solution. Camera systems take photos and videos of the automated depalletizing process, the visual information is analyzed by an AI.
The situation: Misplaced plastic foil often triggered sensors, which then stopped the machine. In the past, machine operators had to physically enter the line and investigate what exactly triggered the stop. After the foil was identified, operators would then manually restart the line.
The solution: an AI (Operator Eye) automatically conducts the three steps, reducing the time to restart the machine to three seconds per operation, whereas it was at least two minutes of manual work. Camera-based data collection will enable us to optimize other process steps and create additional added value. We are also working on transferring the technology to other machines from our Supply Chain portfolio.

lAppropriate education and training will be a critical success factor for future generations.r

AI will change many job profiles

By using AI in the warehouse, people will be crucial as specialists in the future, but the tools of the trade will change for many job profiles. AI-based analyses also need to be validated, and the systems need to be set up and maintained. That is why appropriate education and training will be a critical success factor for future generations. Equally important is targeted information to adequately address existing fears and concerns that persist throughout the introduction or advancements of all new technologies. This includes, for example, empowering people to use AI and the numerous tools and applications properly and responsibly.

Curious about more stories and updates from the Körber Business Area Supply Chain? Check out their blog to stay updated!

Article written by Dr. Kerstin Höfle, Vice President Research & Development and Product Management at Körber Business Area Supply Chain.

Read more about...

Industry 5.0 vs. Industry 4.0

Welcome to the future! Or is it already here? Advancements in technology are moving at an unprecedented pace, and it's hard to keep up with all the changes.

Read more!

Crack the code to employee engagement!

Did you know that a person spends 81,396 at work in their life? Gamification and Artificial Intelligence can emerge as powerful tools for increasing employee engagement in the workplace.

Read more!

Back to top
Back to top