Nowadays, AI is revolutionizing inventory management in the supply chain. This article is a quick step-by-step guide on how to incorporate AI into your inventory management processes with the expert guidance of AI consulting. From defining goals to integrating with existing processes, discover how to use the potential of AI to optimize your company’s supply chain.
The role of AI in supply chain inventory management
AI is a powerful and innovative technology. Nowadays, it has a huge impact on the functioning of organizations in every industry. It also plays a significant role in inventory management. As the research shows, AI in the supply chain market is expected to reach USD 10,110.2 million by 2025 from USD 527.5 million in 2017. As we can see, we will be able to observe the increasing importance of AI in this sector.
AI is changing the way companies make decisions related to warehouse management. Its main goal here is to optimize processes.
The scope of AI functions in inventory management primarily includes demand forecasting. With advanced ML algorithms, AI can analyze huge amounts of historical data, considering variable factors such as:
- Market trends
- Seasonal fluctuations
- Specificity of products
This allows for more precise forecasting, minimizing the risk of over- or under-supply.
Another important aspect is the optimization of order processes. AI can dynamically analyze data related to orders, product availability, and costs. In this way, it provides recommendations on optimal order sizes and delivery schedules. This allows companies to optimize their inventory levels, avoiding both product overstocks and shortages.
AI plays a key role in supply chain risk management. By analyzing data from various sources, AI can identify potential threats, such as delivery delays, changes in demand, or problems with suppliers.
AI in inventory management – a step-by-step guide
STEP 1: DEFINE YOUR OBJECTIVE AND START SMALL
This is a key step in the process of implementing AI in inventory management. At this point, the company needs to clearly state its goals for optimizing inventory. It should also begin with small, controlled activities.
Defining your goals is fundamental because they will guide the rest of the process. This can be:
- Minimizing stock shortages
- Reduction of excess inventory
- Improving inventory turnover
- Optimization of inventory replenishment
However, regardless of the chosen goal, it should be clear, measurable, and consistent with the company’s business strategy.
In turn, by starting with small steps, the company avoids the risk of complicated, large-scale implementation. Small steps allow you to test solutions, understand what benefits they can bring, and adjust your strategy if necessary.
STEP 2: CONDUCT EXPLORATORY DATA ANALYSIS AND PREPARE PROOF OF CONCEPT
Exploratory Data Analysis is a key phase that involves in-depth examination and summarization of data sets. The goal is to gain insight and identify patterns. This process helps companies understand the characteristics and potential relationships in inventory data. This allows you to make informed decisions and recognize areas for improvement.
Once the company finishes analyzing the data, it starts preparing for the Proof-of-Concept stage. They use the analysis results to design a prototype or model for testing and evaluation. There are numerous benefits to preparing a Proof of Concept, such as:
- A better understanding of data
- Identifying areas requiring attention
- Assessment of the effectiveness of a prototype or model
Creating a Proof of Concept after exploring the data helps plan the next steps better. It also minimizes potential difficulties and increases the efficiency of the entire process.
STEP 3: CHOOSE THE RIGHT MODEL
A correctly selected model has the potential to generate more precise forecasts, support good decisions, and optimize the use of resources, thus eliminating the need to use ineffective or overly complex models. When selecting ML models, it is important to consider factors such as:
- The accuracy and complexity of the model
- The type of problem to be solved
- Costs associated with the model
- The availability of resources
It is important to find the right balance between accuracy and complexity in modeling. This helps avoid overfitting or underfitting the training data.
STEP 4: INTEGRATE AI WITH EXISTING PROCESSES
This stage requires an assessment of current inventory management processes and the identification of areas where AI can help the most.
Incorporating AI into existing processes aims to:
- Automate repetitive activities
- Increasing overall operational efficiency
- Improving decision-making processes
- Increasing competitive advantage
It is a task that requires a deep understanding of the functions and interactions between various elements of systems. Moreover, it is necessary to adapt advanced AI algorithms to the specificity of existing processes. And this requires advanced technical knowledge. Hence, the partnership with a team of specialists becomes crucial.
The article presents a practical guide to implementing AI consulting in inventory management. Important steps are highlighted, such as:
- Selecting goals
- Analyzing exploratory data
- Preparing proof of concept
- Selecting an AI model
- Effective integration with existing processes
It was noted that cooperation with an experienced team of specialists is crucial for the successful implementation.