Supply Chain Strains Sharpen Focus on AI

Supply chains have taken a battering this year from the coronavirus pandemic and other extreme events—and artificial intelligence has emerged as a critical tool for navigating everyday business in this environment.

The use of AI and its various subsets, such as machine learning, is enabling these companies to forecast demand with increasing accuracy and to optimize their supply chains, executives say.

“As a supply-chain provider, as a logistics provider, we are very much in the data business,” said Mario Harik, chief information officer at XPO Logistics Inc., while speaking Wednesday on a virtual panel at the WSJ Pro AI Executive Forum

Mr. Harik said that events such as the accidental blocking of the Suez Canal by a shipping vessel this week demonstrate how supply-chain optimization and diversification have become essential. AI is a useful tool to quickly figure out how to reroute shipments and plan for extreme events by building redundancy into operations through multiple distribution facilities, he said.

AI can help optimize the placement of these facilities, he said, as well as the “intake flow and the outbound flow at facilities as well.”


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