AI Decision-Making and Sustainability
Martin Pahulje - June 17, 2021
As AI becomes increasingly advanced, we are learning more ways to implement it into different aspects of business. One of the most standard uses of AI is automation and predictive intelligence, which is instrumental in enhancing decision-making. By analyzing historical data against current market trends, AI can provide decision-makers with more accurate insights to then be translated into smarter business decisions. This enables the automation of decision-making without human interaction, making faster and smarter decisions. The past year has shown us just how unpredictable life can be, so it is crucial now more than ever to utilize the help of AI to improve decision-making to be proactive and resilient.
Every organization makes hundreds of decisions each day. While most may seem insignificant, plenty of them can significantly impact your company, so they must be made with care and consideration. With AI, organizations can automate a vast majority of these decisions, speeding up business processes and making more accurate decisions resulting in improved results. Furthermore, AI can eliminate the risk of human error and bias in the decision-making process, ensuring that you are equipped with the most effective decisions for your organization.
As we continue to understand AI capabilities, companies are looking for more areas to apply their abilities and optimize processes. One of these newfound areas is sustainability. Worldwide, we are facing a climate crisis, and companies are heavily contributing to the carbon emissions fueling this crisis. In order to become more environmentally sustainable, comply with environmental regulations, and maintain a positive brand image, organizations must become more sustainable. With AI, organizations can enhance their decision-making process and apply it to achieving sustainability, a pressing issue today. We will discuss precisely how your organization can use AI to improve decision-making, in addition to discussing the implications AI may have upon environmental sustainability.
There are endless reasons why organizations should strive towards sustainability and addressing climate change. First and foremost, it's benefiting the environment. This should be reason enough from a moral perspective, but things aren't so black and white. In addition to protecting the planet we live on, sustainability is also necessary for the longevity of our business practices. Many of the resources necessary for manufacturing vital products are scarce and must be procured from the earth. If organizations continue to consume these resources at their current rate, soon, there will be none left. In addition to increasing our economy's lifetime through avoiding the depletion of natural resources, sustainability can offer you more direct business benefits. Companies that focus on sustainability and climate change issues are more likely to attract and retain their workforce. Today, professionals are driving sustainability issues, advocating for their employer's sustainability, and even making employment decisions based upon an organization's green policies. Professionals of younger generations have proven to be more loyal to employers that care about the environment. This extends to customers as well, as consumers share a passion for sustainability and want to see that reflected in the organizations they conduct business with.
So, where does AI come into all of this? The primary areas to review for sustainability improvements within an organization are staff and equipment planning, operational processes, CO2 emissions, and fuel consumption. Using AI-driven optimization software, these areas can be considerably improved regarding sustainability. An excellent example of this is shown in improving transport logistics. AI-driven optimization software can ensure that shipments are delivered at the right time to the correct location, shipments are properly bundled, and empty runs are minimized. These features ensure that resources are optimally deployed, minimizing the carbon emissions produced by the transport industry by maximizing each load and minimizing the number of loads needed. Furthermore, powerful planning algorithms support AI software, which can address unexpected events through intelligent “what if” scenarios, optimized decision making, and efficient resource management.
Digitization in yard management has a similar effect. Optimized truck dispatching and more efficient time slot management can be accomplished with digital yard processes. Enhancing the use of loading bays and better-coordinated vehicle entry and exit processes promotes reduced truck congestion and waiting times. As a result, the size of the fleet required is contained, lowering CO2 emissions from idling trucks while generally increasing the operating capacity of the yard.
AI is also instrumental in decision-making in the manufacturing industry. Manufacturers looking to improve their demand forecasting and production planning can apply field-tested forecast algorithms to create master production schedules. With AI capabilities, these schedules will simultaneously consider all factors from raw material procurement, production, assembly, and storage, all the way through distribution. By optimizing these processes, manufacturers will reduce inventory levels, achieve faster processing times and production cycles while avoiding manual rescheduling. All of these processes use significant amounts of power, so by reducing them, you will be reducing power usage and minimizing unplanned shipments and other transportation implications that impact the environment.
Implementing a Sustainability Program
With AI-enabled decision-making, manufacturers, logistics planners, and transport managers can optimize operations, supporting sustainability goals. Applying AI optimization software, companies can optimize their daily processes and distribution networks, implementing sustainable business practices through every step of the supply chain. Maximizing transport space, optimizing routes, and accurately meeting demand are all significant factors in reducing carbon emissions. Beyond implementing AI decision-making technology in your organization, it is vital that you establish, adopt, and implement a sustainability program. Before you begin optimizing operations through AI, you should have a sustainability plan in place so that you can incorporate sustainable practices throughout your supply chain network.
An effective sustainability initiative must consider numerous factors, including climate change, environmental issues, limiting consumption, reducing carbon footprints, and increasing energy efficiency. All of these factors combined can sustain long-term business viability and environmental wellbeing. To develop your sustainable initiative, you should begin with an audit of existing processes to determine areas for improvement and related target goals. This will help you identify where improvements should be made, and these are the primary areas that AI technology should be implemented. When considering processes for improvement, it is crucial to consider those that will have the most significant environmental impact in the shortest time with the least costs involved so that you can prioritize accordingly. You must also consider sustainability-related contractual and compliance requirements to ensure that these are followed. It can be helpful to build an internal sustainability task force within your organization. With representation from all levels and departments, you can ensure that sustainability is integrated into your company from the top-down. This guarantees that sustainability becomes a defining aspect of your company and that sustainability is wholly integrated into all operations. AI will revolutionize decision-making in your organization, and these decisions should lead you towards a more sustainable future.
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