software applications from New Horizon in March 2020, right before the pandemic. Like many consumer goods companies, Faribault Foods faces volatile demand and changing customer behavior. “AI and machine learning have given us better visibility into demand and more accurate forecasts so we can become more responsive to changing conditions,” says David Mörker, senior director and head of information technology. He adds that Faribault Foods can improve customer service levels while reducing inventory and supply chain costs.
Blockchain technology can also enhance supply chain visibility. “Blockchain technology has the potential to signicantly improve supply chain operations by providing a secure, decentralized, and transparent platform for tracking and verifying the movement of goods and materials,” says Anand Swaroop, founder and president of Cepham, which manufactures herbal ingredients, and phytochemicals for dietary supplements. Cepham uses blockchain-based tracking and visibility solutions, along with real-time cargo visibility tools, to identify bottlenecks and inefciencies.
“During the pandemic, many companies realized how little they knew about their supply chains.”
In addition, New Horizon automates the forecasting process, insulating Faribault Foods from the technical complexity of AI technology. The New Horizon solution offers 10 forecasting models, each tailored to a different situation, such as seasonal or highly promoted products, says Chao-Ming Ying, Ph.D., and chief technology ofcer. Machine learning technology chooses the model that provides the best forecast, and compares each product forecast with actual orders, to continuously adjust model parameters or even change models as market conditions shift. Among other benets, AI can automatically segment customers into different demand categories so a company can prioritize which customers to focus on.
AI-based data analytics tools help to predict product demand and optimize inventory levels. Some visibility tools help supply chain and other organizations collaborate even when they’re not physically together. Many organizations turned to video-conferencing technology when pandemic lockdowns restricted travel. Video conferencing works well for most meetings, but less effectively when it comes to showing, for instance, a warehouse operation. Those meetings are “designed for faces and not places,” says Devon Copley, co-founder and CEO of Avatour, which uses 360-degree video encoding and delivery, along with AI for image processing and multi-party collaboration tools to capture a space or operation, like a packaging line, as activity occurs. 5G, or the fth generation of mobile network technology, can help supply chain organizations better track and trace assets, says David Joosten, president and CEO with Vodafone U.S. Inc. Among other capabilities, 5G offers greater speed and lower latency than its predecessors, and allows multiple types of devices to connect. Vodafone helped Sicli, a provider of re protection services, to manage, track, and communicate with its eet in real time, enabling it to immediately respond to emergency calls.
One area of focus when it comes to supply chain innovation is visibility. “During the pandemic, many companies realized how little they knew about their supply chains,” says Aaron Parrott, managing director with Deloitte. Few could easily identify the suppliers that truly mattered to their operations. Gaining visibility to rapidly uctuating demand has also proved important. Faribault Foods, a mid sized manufacturer of branded, co-manufactured, and private label foods, specializes in dry beans, soup, and chili. The company deployed demand planning and sales and operations planning cloud-based
Faribault Foods, which oers an extensive portfolio of premium food products, gets better visibility into demand and more accurate forecasts through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
94 Inbound Logistics • January 2023
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