How will optimize the supply chain at every level

Dec 12, 2019

  • The implementation of AI and blockchain technology creates new opportunities in supply chains
  • Individuals, small businesses and international conglomerates will all benefit from increased efficiency and data protection

The way we buy our goods and have them delivered will soon be automated. Autonomous supply chains will process a request to fetch components and autonomously deliver them to specified delivery points, all without human intervention.

This autonomous system not only removes the risk of human error, but also uses past data and machine learning technology to make optimized decisions for users, both in terms of price and logistics.

Take the example of a coffee shop. The barista only notices late on Friday afternoon, when it’s too late to make an order for the following day, that they’re nearly out of coffee beans. This will mean the shop runs out of coffee beans over the weekend, which is their busiest time of the week. The intelligent supply chain would have used sensors and cameras to recognize that supplies were running low, and would have placed an order for the beans to be delivered ahead of time to ensure there was no such disruption.

A similar technology could also see smart fridges identify when milk supplies are running low, seek out the best price for milk and have fresh stocks delivered all before you have opened the fridge door in the morning.

These examples are small-scale and domestic, but the reach of the autonomous supply chain can extend to much broader operations such as the loading and unloading of ships at busy ports.

While existing supply chains are being digitized as much as possible, the intelligent supply chain goes further. Rather than dealing solely with the here and now, it can analyze future patterns to allow businesses to navigate disruptions months in advance and keep them ahead of changes in customer buying patterns.

This leap forward is made possible by combining artificial intelligence and blockchain technology. For example, AI can utilize real-time information to help companies choose the best partner to trade with or to warn manufacturers about the need to conduct maintenance on part of a delivery truck. In this way, the technology helps companies to optimize and drive efficiencies across the supply chain.

The blockchain element provides a trustless ledger that can archive information across the digital enterprise and allows for smooth and instant transactions. Crucially, blockchain allows for the transaction data to be decentralized and therefore it cannot be owned by a dominant third party. Only the relevant data required for a specific transaction is shared, rather than the whole dataset.

As a result, this intelligent supply chain will not only enhance logistic operations across a business both price-wise and time-wise, the added assurance of possessing ownership of the data reduces the threat posed by hackers.