AI as a key digital trend in supply chain management

Artificial intelligence aims to utilise computing power to emulate the decision-making and problem-solving capabilities of the human mind. Along with machine learning, this makes it a potentially very versatile and effective solution for improving supply chain management.

Why AI is a game-changer for supply chain management?

An efficient supply chain is essential for any modern business. Without a reliable supply chain, it’s difficult to make accurate projections about future inventories, which makes business less competitive as a result. But even with integrated supply chains, there are numerous external factors that can affect its performance. Artificial intelligence provides businesses with the tools they need to overcome many of the challenges involved in modern supply chain management. For example, one constant challenge for supply chain managers is keeping track of all the data their job requires. From knowing exactly what stock they have and where it is to quantify the operational efficiency of warehouses and other infrastructure, supply chain management requires a considerable amount of data analytics and management. Inventory Management Solutions AI-driven, such as ELCOM’S EVOLVE IMS (Download Infographic), are ideally suited for automatically analysing and interpreting large volumes of data efficiently and reliably. This means they are capable of extracting insights from data, as well as keeping accurate records.

AI and ML have enabled supply chain managers to overcome several major challenges with ease.

  • Fluctuating costs: AI enhances business decision-making while automatically identifying inefficiencies and wastage within supply chains. Using AI, businesses can create dynamic supply chains that respond to fluctuations in transport, commodity, and labour costs.
  • Inventory management: Maintaining accurate inventory records is essential for efficient supply chain management. Businesses need to know when to order more materials and when to move materials and goods along their supply chain. They also need to know where their current stock is at all times. AI-based systems are ideal for this kind of data-heavy task.  ELCOM’S EVOLVE IMS useful links: Inventory & Logistics / Hospital Inventory Management / Download Infographic.
  • Warehouse efficiency: Warehouses are a central component of any supply chain. AI-driven automation ensures efficient item retrieval from warehouses and the most direct path to the customer.
  • Warehouse safety: Increased efficiency shouldn’t come at the cost of workers’ safety. Artificial intelligence enables warehouses to enhance their safety as well as their efficiency. It can also continually analyse warehouse safety data and inform businesses about potential risks as they arise.

How has AI impacted business decision-making and is driving efficiencies?

Artificial intelligence is also enhancing supply chain management by facilitating an efficient, data-driven approach to decision-making.

Using artificial intelligence, businesses can take full advantage of all the supply chain data they continually generate. A prime example of how AI can enhance decision-making and improve organisational efficiency is the NHS Artificial Intelligence Lab.

Few organisations are under as much pressure as the NHS to ensure efficiency and sustainability throughout their operations. But organisations like the NHS that continually generate large volumes of high-quality data are perfectly poised to benefit from AI. After all, data is the fuel that AI systems need to function.

The NHS Artificial Intelligence Lab is a prime example of how AI can enhance organisational decision-making.

  • Supporting the development of AI solutions and scaling them to match the NHS’s needs.
  • Identifying specific problems within the NHS that could benefit the most from AI solutions.
  • Providing guidance and establishing best practices for the use of AI within the NHS and among its suppliers.
  • Creating environments to test AI technologies and evaluate the algorithms that underpin them.

In the last few years, research conducted within the NHS has shown that AI tools can make accurate referral decisions for more than 50 eye diseases. The AI performed with 94% accuracy, matching more of the world’s leading experts in the field.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning both have vital roles to play in the future of supply chain management. Investments in these technologies have bought about a revolution in our understanding of statistical analyses and the potential of data. The same data that supply chain managers use to monitor their business’s performance daily can also provide deep insights into long-term trends and fuel a more informed approach to decision-making.


  • Carolina Duran

    Carolina Duran, VP of Marketing at ELCOM, joined ELCOM in May 2016 to lead the company's marketing team and implement a robust and efficient strategy to secure brand positioning and growth in the UK and internationally. ELCOM is a global Supply Chain Technology Provider which praised itself for making procurement smarter, more connected, and transparent.

    View all posts