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Essential Supply Chain KPIs for Maximizing ROI on Supply Chain Planning Investments

n today’s fast-paced business environment, accurate demand forecasting is crucial for maintaining efficient inventory levels and ensuring a high level of customer satisfaction. Traditional forecasting methods often fall short in the face of complex supply chains and unpredictable market conditions. This is where the power of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) comes into play. By leveraging advanced AI techniques, businesses can significantly enhance their forecast accuracy, leading to optimized inventory management and improved operational performance. Here’s how:

Quantifying Uncertainties and Adjusting Stock Buffers

One of the primary challenges in inventory management is dealing with uncertainties in demand and potential delays in production or supplier delivery. AI enables us to quantify these uncertainties more accurately and adjust stock buffers accordingly. By using a technique known as probabilistic forecasting, we can assess the likelihood of various demand scenarios and production delays, allowing for more informed decision-making. This approach is crucial for reducing excess inventory and minimizing stockouts, which ultimately enhances overall supply chain performance.

Improving Forecast Accuracy

AI improves forecast accuracy through several key mechanisms:

  1. Simultaneous Learning Across All Products: Traditional forecasting methods often analyze each product individually, but AI can learn from the entire product portfolio simultaneously. This means that the sales data of one product can inform the forecasts of other products, leading to more holistic and accurate predictions. For example, the past sales of products A and C can be used to predict the future sales of product B.

  2. Automatic Outlier Detection: AI algorithms are capable of automatically detecting and handling outliers in the data. Outliers, which are abnormal data points that deviate significantly from other observations, can distort forecasts if not properly managed. AI ensures these anomalies are identified and addressed, leading to cleaner data and more reliable forecasts.

  3. Feature-Based Learning: AI can also learn from the characteristics of products, such as their category, price, or lifecycle stage. This feature-based learning is particularly useful for forecasting new products that lack historical sales data. By understanding the attributes of a new product, AI can draw parallels with similar existing products and make more accurate predictions.

  4. Incorporation of External Data: Another significant advantage of AI is its ability to integrate external data sources into the forecasting process. This can include market trends, economic indicators, weather patterns, and even social media sentiment. By considering these external factors, AI can refine its forecasts to better reflect real-world conditions.

Simulating Stockout Risks

AI doesn’t just improve forecast accuracy; it also enhances risk management. By utilizing stochastic simulations, AI can simulate future stockout risks and help businesses make precise financial trade-offs between inventory value and service levels. These simulations provide insights into the probability of stockouts under different scenarios, enabling companies to balance the cost of holding inventory against the risk of not meeting customer demand.

Conclusion

Incorporating AI into demand forecasting processes offers substantial benefits, from better managing uncertainties to improving the accuracy of predictions and simulating future risks. By adopting these advanced techniques, businesses can achieve a more resilient and responsive supply chain, reduce excess inventory, minimize stockouts, and ultimately provide better service to their customers. At Flowlity, we harness the power of AI to deliver these benefits, helping companies optimize their inventory and enhance their overall performance.