Top 5 ways AI and Machine Learning are helping Supply Chains

Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been positively disrupting the agricultural industry over the last decade. From farm-to-fork, technology has been able to help reduce risk, streamline operations, save costs, and provide an overall transparent supply chain.

Blockchain technology also helps to consistently & continually improve food processes and AI algorithms help computers learn from all the data provided and create forecasts that notify operators on when it is best to move products along the supply chain, all the way into the fridges of a consumer.

With all of this positive big data and proof that integrating tech into your supply chain is a positive innovation for your company to invest in, many supply chains still lag behind the most recent developments.

In fact, recent studies have shown that:

  • 43% of retail supply chain professionals have stated that their current tech can’t keep up with the demands of their business
  • 48% of grocers say their forecasting tech varies from poor to average at best
  • 43% of grocers struggle because of the leak of real-time visibility of their inventory

All of these problems contribute towards an even bigger issue in the fresh produce supply chain, problems that then affect our food supply on a global scale. With 40-50% of all global fresh food supply going to waste each year, supply chains and grocers must take advantage of every opportunity to leverage tech to help their operations.

AI and blockchain can help create transparency and visibility across all fresh produce being tracked, and help get it to market quickly and efficiently while reducing losses and providing data analysis to all who are managing its operations.

As if that doesn’t cover the entire point, the team at PostHarvest has put together 5 ways that AI can help automate, reduce waste, and cut costs across your entire supply chain.

1) Food Processing Automation
2) Segmentation of Food Items
3) Ensuring Stable Food Supply
4) Improving the Supply Chain
5) Improving Food Delivery

1) Food Processing Automation:

Most food processing inside of supply chains is done manually by employees. Hygiene levels and processes must be highly refined and observed to ensure fresh produce quality all the way to the hands of the consumer.

When COVID-19 struck last year and the masses become more and more paranoid about bacteria and infections coming into their homes, implementing AI-enabled robot equipment to perform tasks like packaging has helped put consumers minds at ease, and supply chains who have jumped on this trend have highly outperformed their competition who hasn’t.

2) Segmentation of Food Items:  

When it comes to routine tasks across the supply chain such as food segmentation and selection, most companies also hire human employees. Their job is to manually sort out large batches of produce by shape and size, and store them cleanly into packaging, continuing the supply chain management process. AI has come along and helped speed up the process in a clean and more efficient way.

Machines can now sort foods, maintain health compliance, and help speed up the global supply chain process overall. It helps make the work of the employees much easier and operations, in general, more efficient.

An example of this in the process is AI helping workers to identify the correct potato sizes for potato chips, or french fries. Rather than the employees go through each vegetable themselves. The AI app can sort all types of vegetables and fruits based on shape, taste, colour, and stage of ripeness. There are sensor technologies and cameras that help the AI operate and recognize all the fresh produce in their different shapes, stages, and other characteristics.

3) Ensuring Stable Food Supply: 

The hospitality industry has to constantly ensure the availability of fresh produce in their storage space. The supply chain can help or deter operational efficiency, should a restaurant or market run out of a particular product, and it not be available. AI technology and machine learning can help create a stable flow and food supply, using predictive analytics and recommender engines that are able to analyze thousands of market factors. These prediction models can help make decisions faster, and improve the stability of the food supply.

4) Improving the Supply Chain: 

Many logistics and supply chain and logistics companies have begun using AI and demand accurate forecasts across all of their operations in order to maintain transparency and enhance the safety of the product that is being distributed. The tech allows for the monitoring of food safety and ensuring all best practices are completed across the supply chain. Neural networks that use forecasting algorithms can help with inventory management as well as track produce from farm to consumer, providing total transparency.

5) Improving Food Delivery: 

Food delivery has been on the rise, as we all know. From restaurants to grocers, consumers love the flexibility of having their dinner or groceries dropped off on their doorstep, instead of having to go out to the markets. AI has come onto the scene and has been able to enhance the marketing efforts of the companies who take advantage of this tech, allowing the AI algorithms to study and track consumer behavior and record their likes and dislikes.

The AI can then send over recommendations to customers based on the data it has gathered. It also reduces human errors that can cause issues with delivery or delays.

Using AI-powered chatbots can be used with customer service to help more customers that have either minor complaints or solve any questions they might have before or after purchasing.

Concluding Thoughts

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms in the supply chain are growing rapidly. It helps to improve the supply chain in terms of efficiency, selection, and risk reduction. It can also help on the customer experience side, with AI bots and delivery services that have AI placed in to help with user experience. Though it is an expensive investment, it is sure to provide returns over and over again when implemented correctly.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and for more free course content on the agricultural industry, learn more here.

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