The Autonomous Supply Chain

Enabling the Autonomous Supply Chain

It’s difficult for us today to imagine the relentless backbreaking labor and the ever-present threat of disease and death that was the norm for the entire human existence until just a few lifetimes ago. World population growth hovered around 0.1% and 0.27% until the 1800s when it started to rise significantly, for the first time in human history (Maddison, A. 2003. The World Economy, Paris, France, OECD). The industrial revolution inaugurated an age of mechanization powered by water and steam, among other innovations.

Today, we’re on the verge of autonomous… well fill in the blank, just about everything.

Incredibly, the first conception of an autonomous vehicle predates the Industrial Revolution and can be traced to 1480. The honor goes to Leonardo Da Vinci, who designed a self-propelled cart using coiled springs. It is presumed that it was designed not for transportation but for carrying puppets across a theater stage. Blocks could be inserted to direct the cart to travel in a straight line or to turn in particular direction.

The first conception of an autonomous vehicle goes back to 1480, when Leonardo Da Vinci designed a self-propelled cart. Click To Tweet

Autonomous vehicles first made their way into consumers’ lives at the turn of the Millennium. The first autonomous vacuum cleaner came out nearly 20 years ago, in 2002, issued by iRobot. I had the first-generation Roomba which worked incredibly well. When I replaced my carpets with dark hardwood floors, it “lost its mind” and I threw it out. I later discovered that it was registering the dark floor as a drop, which made it reverse and turn erratically. It was early days.

Only twenty years later and it seems like everything is becoming autonomous these days, autonomous vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, cars, trucks, ships and planes.

Now meet the autonomous supply chain.

The Autonomous Supply Chain

Autonomous technology has been infiltrating the supply chain for some time. It can be found in virtually every leg of the supply chain, from agricultural to manufacturing, and everywhere in between, such as robots in warehouses. Robots have been a staple in factories for a while, but they’re becoming more sophisticated. Robots are found in warehouses and fulfillment centers, where they find, sort and move products around. Robots can be found at the port of Los Angeles, shuffling and stacking containers. And now robots can be found wandering the aisles of some Walmart stores, scanning and keeping count of inventory on shelves.

Case Study: Nucleus Research on Getting Value from AI in the Supply Chain

It is only relatively recently that machine learning, neural networks and intelligent agents have been employed to help optimize and automate supply chain management. One Network has been a pioneer in this space since it’s founding in 2003, when it used IXM (intelligent execution managers), a forerunner of today’s machine learning and intelligent agent technology NEO.

Today, a much-improved version of that technology is in use managing some of the world’s most complex and critical supply chains. NEO helps ensure the continuous and efficient supply of a variety of products across the world, including ammunition, food, medicines, automotive parts, consumer products.

“While many vendors are talking about bringing automation to their supply chain planning and inventory optimization software, One Network has customers that are live – using the capabilities and extracting value from the technology.”
– Seth Lippincott, Analyst, Nucleus Research

On Thursday May 2nd, Seth Lippincott of Nucleus Research, and Geoff Annesley of One Network, will be hosting a webinar, Enabling the Autonomous Supply Chain. They will explain how a leading global company is using AI to manage and optimize its supply chain. Seth will apply the Nucleus Research value-based methodology to explore the company’s challenges, the approach they took, and the results they achieved. Geoff will explain the network and autonomous digital agents underlying those results. Together they will cover:

  • The five stages of supply chain maturity
  • How the new multi-enterprise network approach differs from the traditional approach, and why it delivers more value, faster
  • How network approaches enable better optimization and automation of supply chains
  • The industry-leading results companies are achieving with AI-enabled networks
  • The five critical “pillars” to look for in a multi-enterprise network
  • Why ERP and legacy systems have plenty of life and how to incorporate them into your digital transformation journey

Find Out How AI Can Transform Your Supply Chain

Enabling the Autonomous Supply Chain

Nigel Duckworth

Senior Strategist at One Network Enterprises
Nigel Duckworth is a strategist and writer. He focuses on how companies can achieve business value from technology.