A warehouse associate retrieves information from his mobile computer about where to put away incoming goods
By Mark Butler | January 25, 2024

Curious Why, When, and How You Should Be Using AI in Your Warehouse or Other Supply Chain Operations?

I consulted with two experts from Körber Supply Chain to get you all the info you need to make the right decision for your people, processes, and profit targets.

Are you someone who could use the help of an AI (or just more help, period) to keep things running more smoothly across your supply chain? If so, then you’ll want to listen to the discussion I just had with Ansgar Thiede, Vice President of Data Science for Körber Supply Chain Software, and Justin Velthoen, the Product Director of Warehouse Management Systems at Körber Supply Chain Software.

They have been looking at ways that AI can be applied in the warehouse and broader supply chain a lot lately, and they’ve been involved in the training of some AI tools. So, they have a great grasp on what role AI is already starting to play in these environments and appreciate the larger role it will soon need to play for you to be able to do your job effectively. 

In our nearly 45-minute conversation, I learned…

  • The most prevalent uses of data science and AI in warehouses and other supply chain environments today, and the types of AI techniques used most often to support these use cases.

  • What you and your operations managers, engineers, IT teams and other colleagues will need to do to ensure any AI tools you utilize deliver their promised benefits.

  • Why you should consult with data scientists as you’re developing your AI strategy, even if you ultimately utilize low-code/no-code AI models.

  • What you can do to make AI feel manageable to your team and drive AI tool acceptance by your management, IT, and front-line teams.

We also had a great discussion about…

  • Where it might make sense to leverage generative AI models throughout the supply chain, whether in a warehouse or distribution center or perhaps even over the road or in a factory. (The potential value proposition might not be what you expect.)

  • How easy it can be for shift workers in warehousing and supply chain environments to learn some of these AI applications, and what contributes to fast adoption.

  • How much humans will need to remain in the loop when AI is used for forecasting or labor planning.

  • What types of decisions could/should be fully automated, and how much risk there is when automating macro decisions versus micro decisions.

Toward the end, we did a deep dive into how AI and data science can be used to adjust your slotting logic to improve velocity, safety, and overall operational planning. Ansgar and Justin also shared their thoughts on whether an AI model used for slotting could be applied to other functions, such as picking. 

Right before we wrapped up, they called out one big thing that could hinder you from deriving benefits from AI and explained what to do about it so that you can extract value from AI. It was quite an interesting conversation, so I hope you’ll listen to it now:

You can also download and read the transcript here. Or you can download the MP3 to listen to their advice when you have time later today:

Why, When, and How You Should Be Using AI in Your Warehouse

AI, Healthcare, Warehouse and Distribution, Automation, Retail, Software Tools, New Ways of Working, Partner Insight, Manufacturing, Digitizing Workflows, Transportation and Logistics, Podcast, Interview, Podcast,
Mark Butler
Mark Butler

Mark Butler is a Global Partner Manager within Zebra’s global sales team and is the global leader for Zebra’s partnerships with both HP, Inc. and Körber Supply Chain. Mark has a focus on Zebra’s AMR and warehouse strategies with Körber and Zebra’s Managed Print and Government strategies with HP, Inc.

Mark is based in Cleveland, Ohio. He has been working within Zebra’s channel go-to-market organization since 2011 and has 20+ years in the industry. 

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