This post was originally published on Supply Chain Movement, a brand of Supply Chain Media.
During a recent webinar, AIMMS demonstrated how combining artificial intelligence (AI) with supply chain network design opens up new possibilities. Firstly, the tool developed by AIMMS has to be fed with data about the company and its operating network, including an overview of the production and distribution locations, the suppliers, the product portfolio, and if desired the most important competitors.
Zoe Kokje Schouten, Business Director of Supply Chain Solutions at AIMMS said, “the new tool searches the internet for information about potentially interesting developments. Users can alter the notification settings themselves based on their relevance”. This was illustrated based on the example of a fictitious petrochemical company.
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ChatGPT in action
The notifications can include local news reports about disruptions or information from other public data sources. “Then ChatGPT springs into action. It explains the potential impact of the disruption on the network in easy-to-understand language. If the disruption is relevant, our proprietary supply chain network design tool sets to work. On the screen, the user sees which locations are directly and indirectly affected by the disruption. The bigger the dots on the map are, the greater the impact,” continued Zoe.
Furthermore, the AI tool suggests scenarios that can be analyzed as the basis for adapting the network and minimizing the negative impact. The user can modify those scenarios if desired, and then the tool starts work on the calculations. “In effect, the user enters into a dialogue with the AI tool. Then the scenarios can be compared to see how adapting the network will affect the costs,” stated Zoe.
Zoltan Lelkes, the founder of the Hungarian AIMMS partner Optasoft, was closely involved in the development of the AI tool. He said, “We used GPT-4 (the new language model behind ChatGPT, which makes the chatbot even smarter) to collect data from various sources and determine its relevance. GPT-4 can also indicate the potential impact on the company’s network. But GPT-4 alone is not enough. By adding network knowledge into the mix, we can predict and visualize how the network will behave and show how robust the network is”, Zoltan explained.
The AI tool, called SensAI, is still a prototype for now, but AIMMS will continue working on it in the coming months to develop it into an effective product. “As our example shows, we can model and analyze scenarios in a matter of minutes. Without artificial intelligence, that would take days or even weeks. By adding artificial intelligence, we can turn a reactive supply chain network design tool into a proactive assistant that tells you how you can make your supply chain resilient“, said Zoe.
Saving huge amounts of money
AB InBev is one of the companies already using the SensAI. Akhil Srivastava, Supply Chain Director at AB InBev shared his enthusiasm about the integration of artificial intelligence. He said, “it’s a big advantage to receive timely alerts to disruptions, understand their impact, and immediately see what action you need to take. The ability to respond to real-time information so quickly can save you huge amounts of money, protect your reputation and improve the customer experience. This all helps us to make our supply chains agile and resilient.”
The AIMMS innovation has been well received by other customers too, reported Zoe. “Often, the notifications alone are very interesting to them. One of the supply chain managers wanted to share the notifications with his sales team because they reveal emerging market opportunities. So this tool isn’t just interesting for the supply chain department, but also for the whole company,” she added.
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