May 17, 2020

BCG: the future of factories with AI

Supply Chain
Artificial intelligence
Georgia Wilson
3 min
BCG logo
Supply Chain Digital discovers which industries are at the forefront of artificial intelligence (AI) adoption.

All over the world, companies are explor...

Supply Chain Digital discovers which industries are at the forefront of artificial intelligence (AI) adoption.

All over the world, companies are exploring the possibility of applying innovative technology into their operations, in particular organisations are striving to deploy the right combination of AI technologies to boost their efficiency and flexibility, as well as accelerate their processes and optimise their operations. Analysis has found that AI can reduce producer conversion costs by up to 20% with 70% of cost reductions resulting from increased workforce productivity. 

In a recent study conducted by BCG, it was discovered that 40% producers expect AI to become crucial for improving productivity by 2030, while 29% consider it to be crucial for productivity today. Many industry leaders expect AI to transform end-to-end processes including engineering, procurement, supply chain management, industrial operations, marketing, sales and customer services. 


The use of AI in operations:

  • Machine vision - sense production environments with visual, x-ray, or laser signals

  • Speech recognition - processing speech and acoustic signals

  • Natural-language processing - analysing text and interpreting its most probable meaning

  • Information processing - extracting knowledge from unstructured text as well as retrieving answers to queries

  • Learning from data - predicting or classifying values based on empirical production-related data

  • Planning and exploring - choosing a sequence of actions that maximises a specific goal

  • Speech generation - communicating with humans via written text or acoustic speech

  • Handling and control - manipulating and picking objects

  • Navigation and movement - moving through physical environments

With these use cases in mind, 37% rank production as the area in which factory operations will best benefit from improved productivity as a result of AI, while 25% highlighted quality and 12% picked logistics. Maintaining the consistency of the findings, industry leaders also regarded self-optimised machines, the ability to detect quality and predictive technology to be the most important uses of AI. Looking at each use case for AI, statistics ranged between 81% and 88% among industry leaders in regards to their importance by 2030.

Overall the study revealed that the transportation and logistics (21%), automotive (20%) and technology (19%) sectors are currently at the forefront of AI adoption, while process industry are lagging behind. This has been said to reflect the different expectation of the benefits that AI can provide. “If they are to achieve their ambitions for AI, industrial producers must significantly ramp up their implementation efforts.” The study details that the implementations of AI have not kept up with the pace of expectation due to the lack of four core pillars: strategy, governance, relevant competencies and a supporting IT infrastructure. Although 87% plan to implement AI into their operations, only 28% have a comprehensive implementation road map, the rest lacking detailed plans.

Study facts and figures:

Participants: 1,095 

Type of participants: executives and managers 

Sector: automotive, consumer goods, energy, engineered products, health care, process industries, transportation and logistics, and technology

Region: global 

For more information on procurement, supply chain and logistics topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Supply Chain Digital magazine.

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Image source: BCG

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Jul 31, 2021

RAIN RFID, IoT and AI are key to a proactive supply chain

Jill West, Vice President Stra...
4 min
RAIN RFID, IoT and AI are key to shifting supply chain’s technology adoption from reactive to proactive in the post-pandemic era

Across supply chains around the world, we have seen leading companies rely heavily on technologies like AI and IoT during the pandemic. These digital solutions have enabled businesses to accurately capture and ultimately use their own first-party data to drive efficiencies and protect increasingly fragile bottom lines.

However, what is less commonly known is the increasing role of RAIN RFID technology in supporting IoT solutions. By using RAIN RFID to capture item data and then feed that data into AI systems, businesses can identify inefficiencies within the supply chain and make informed decisions.

What is RAIN RFID?

In short, RAIN RFID is a powerful IoT technology that enables itemised data collection. By applying small, battery-free tags to items, organisations can identify, locate, and authenticate each of those items, scanning up to thousands of items simultaneously with a variety of devices, including hand-held, fixed and wearable readers.

RAIN RFID solutions dramatically improve the operational capabilities of an organisation by ensuring they have exactly the right items, in the right quantities, at the right locations, at the right time. During the pandemic, RAIN RFID solutions have been key to limiting disruptions in retail and manufacturing supply chains, most notably by increasing inventory and asset visibility and improving the management and flow of goods. 

Three ways RAIN RFID helps solve supply chain concerns

RAIN RFID is used to streamline processes, maintain real-time inventory, increase productivity, and help manage labour shortages. We see three key ways RAIN RFID helps solve supply chain concerns:

  1. Automate shipment verification: Today, significant labour is required for multiple, manual barcode scans during the shipment process. RAIN RFID tags can be read automatically without a direct line of sight, erasing the need for workers to pause, locate a barcode, and scan it. By using RAIN RFID, supply chain leaders can automate their shipment verification process and improve warehouse efficiencies by up to 25%.
  2. Deliver real-time visibility: Retail Systems Research says that 76% of supply chain survey respondents reported that real-time inventory visibility was their leading focus for improving performance. When supply chain managers lack information about the status of assets and shipments moving into and out of warehouses, confidence and productivity suffer. By using RAIN RFID, supply chain leaders gain real-time visibility into an item’s identity, usage, and location. With this information, they can quickly find inventory and assets, and reduce the cost of asset investments. 
  3. Improve order accuracy: Today, companies rely on redundant manual checks to verify that the right cartons are loaded onto the correct pallets. By using RAIN RFID, supply chain leaders can automate pallet build verification to streamline the process and increase order accuracy. In fact, a recent study by Auburn University found that RAIN RFID can help an organisation achieve up to 100% order accuracy, eliminating claims costs and unhappy customers.  

RAIN RFID can increase value of AI-powered analytics

In today’s AI-driven, rapid decision-making business environment, RAIN RFID is uniquely capable of making systems more effective. This is because it provides item identifiers for tracking and locating billions of items, from clothing to food, pharmaceuticals, tools, packages, pallets, and more.

It also works without line-of-sight, providing visibility into places and processes not previously available. The data provided by a RAIN RFID system can give AI-powered solutions the ability to see individual items throughout the supply chain, understand how the entire supply chain is functioning and identify which areas can be improved. 

As companies accelerate digital transformation, we expect to see a rise in interconnected data as investments into new technologies and IoT surge. But as the volume of real-time and accurate data about the movement of goods rises, so too do the demands on operations teams to make sound business decisions quickly and with confidence, often using AI-powered systems that thrive on improved data to make better decisions. 

As an example, over the past several years, Delta Airlines transformed its customer experience by investing in technology including real-time RAIN RFID bag tracking and automatic check-in via the Fly Delta mobile app. Delta is now leveraging this set of investments in their implementation of an AI-driven platform that analyses millions of operational data points, from luggage movement to aircraft positions to flight crew restrictions to airport conditions. This system simulates operating challenges and creates hypothetical scenarios that help Delta’s professionals make critical operational decisions that improve the overall customer experience.  

Looking forward

The need to drive digital transformation rapidly during the pandemic has made supply chain and logistics professionals increasingly tech savvy. As we prepare for a post-pandemic era, companies’ increased know-how and awareness of solutions like RAIN RFID, IoT and AI will play a key role in evolving the industry’s approach to solving supply chain issues from reactive to proactive, setting them up for future success.

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