19.3.2024 | Recruitment

A&S Reflects on the role of AI in logistics and the supply chain

A&S Recruitments’ Becky Crevald details how this transformative technology is becoming ubiquitous in keeping Britain moving.

In this edition, A&S Recruitment shares with Porttalk how the sector has become a key adopter of artificial intelligence (AI).

Becky Crevald, executive search consultant at A&S says: “The UK’s shipping and logistics industry is at the forefront of embracing artificial intelligence to enhance efficiency, safety, accuracy and sustainability.

“But since we departed from the EU, the subsequent configuration of its trade policy, and the upsurge of reliance on remote-based services due to the pandemic, technology’s groundbreaking role in moving our transport and logistics infrastructure forward has never been more pertinent.”

Here, Becky details how this transformative technology is becoming a ubiquitous component in the task of keeping Britain moving.

“AI systems are pivotal in tracking, picking, packing, routing, and physically handling freight and cargo. However, their ability to analyse vast amounts of historical data also means that the data can be used to optimise inventory levels. The ability to anticipate supply chain disruptions ahead of time is a game-changer for logistics companies looking to make informed decisions and plan their operations more effectively.

“But it’s not just on land where AI makes a difference. For port and shipowners, the technology also brings many benefits. From predictive maintenance, vessel routing and navigation (AI systems can consider factors such as weather conditions, sea currents, traffic congestion, and fuel consumption to recommend the most efficient and safe routes for ships) and port operations management, this technology is making positive change, cost savings and improving turnaround times.

“Driving up and down the A14, it’s impossible to miss the multitude of warehouses that have sprung up over recent years, but how often do we stop to think how AI technology is transforming these storage facilities into state-of-the-art environments, in which AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) are an everyday part of life. With AMRs undertaking tasks such as picking, packing and sorting, cobots also work alongside human workers. But AI’s benefits aren’t just related to the warehouse floor – AI algorithms can continue improving inventory management by predicting demand, optimising stock levels and identifying slow-moving or obsolete items.

“In today’s global economy, communication between various stakeholders is critical to getting the job done. And, of course, AI is playing its role in improving communication across the supply chain. AI natural language processing (NLP) can help streamline data entry processes, reduce manual effort and promote faster and more accurate communication. Today’s supply chains involve many participants, many of whom speak different languages and AI-powered language translation tools can facilitate seamless communication. But did you know there’s even something called sentiment analysis? Here, NLP algorithms analyse text data to gauge the sentiment and emotions expressed by stakeholders within the supply chain. By monitoring sentiment, companies can identify potential issues or concerns early on and take proactive measures to address them, fostering better relationships and reducing conflicts. And love it, or hate it, it is here to stay.

“The above just touches the surface in detailing the progress AI has already made in changing the face of UK logistics. The areas I’ve focused on reflect those aspects of the industry in which we match candidates with employers.

“While it may sound like ‘Big Brother’ and 1984, AI is not just a digital tool. It’s a mindset shift, just as controversial as the Industrial Revolution would have felt in the late 1890s. But in order for the logistics sector to evolve and remain competitive, I’m a firm believer that AI will take us forward while not making humans redundant. Rather, it will become the force that drives innovation and promotes future growth and efficiencies.”

Image: Becky Crevald