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Industrial Engineers to use data analytics and AI to design our Future.

By Ben Amaba posted 05-04-2020 12:56:04 PM


Our supply chain plays a critical role in our community, organization and as individuals. Today, with the COVID 19 pandemic the vulnerability of our supply chain is tested once again and serves as a reminder that change is inevitable and the ability to adapt our systems to deal with disease, famine, terrorism, war, natural disasters, and other externalities can be disastrous if allowed to continue and go unchecked. With large complex supply chains and immediate response time requirements, our ability to prevent, isolate and remediate situations becomes extremely difficult putting the public at risk. Resilience is not a new concept, but the environment we are in is different. Our experience, knowledge, and methods have accumulated over the years and can be applied more effectively and efficiently than before. In many cases, many newcomers will design resiliency around redundancy that create unnecessary stock, idle personnel and machinery, storage costs, time delays and masked bottlenecks. Flexibility and lean practices would be a better option according to Yossi Sheffi, a professor of Engineering Systems at MIT. Flexibility and lean practices are now being enabled by technology. Supply Chain resiliency is about careful balance of business, organization, algorithms, and technology capabilities, what we call the BOAT. In order not to capsize the BOAT during the storm of disruption the requirements of business, organization, algorithms and technology should be orchestrated and optimized. Today, we have an opportunity to use technology advancements to strengthen the design and operations of the new resilient supply chain for the process with better technologies. For years, the business and organizational leaders have endured and anticipated another disruption. Most institutions have documented and applied the organizational qualitative concepts of teamwork, culture and empowerment. These concepts are not new, but rapid response has been hindered by data silos, talent and trust. There have been improvements in business and organizational frameworks and principles, but the timeline requirements are shrinking rapidly requiring the assistance of better technology. Instead of improving the forecast, the ability to sense change and respond has become more valuable especially in unpredictable or stochastic situations like COVID 19. We want to be able to respond faster.

Over the decades our mathematical algorithms have improved significantly because of the computing power and network throughput. The leaps in algorithmic innovation have been enabled by technology through Moore’s and Metcalf’s Law. Of more importance, with better technology we have been able to monitor the workflow process.  Quality experts like Drs. Joseph M. Juran and W. Edwards Deming stress that the vast majority (85 to 94 percent) of the time, the answer is found in the processes and systems in place are not up to the task of handling all the variations that exist in today's business climate, and as a result, supply chains fail. Resiliency has to be built in the process and technology. For example, Bayesian networks have been used to identify critical variables coupled with improved processes such as the 5S’s (sort, clean, simplify, standardize, and sustain) because of the computing power and network capabilities on hybrid, open platforms that allow us to connect, create better content, and collaborate to solve the challenges disrupting our supply chain. When process and technology are coordinated to provide concurrency, standardization, and communication alignment, the outcomes are significantly positive. We improve faster, at a lower cost, and with higher quality standards. This new environment allows our systems to morph and adapt to changing situations with effectiveness and efficiencies. As the plethora of data grows due to technologies like the Internet of Everything (IoE), wearables, smart phones and social media we are able to couple data analytics and artificial intelligence to describe, diagnose, predict and prescribe at improved rates and better outcomes. It is rapid evolution in a changing environment. ‘Sense & Respond’ systems with data will become reality through self-actualization and self-realization. The digital transformation allows us to produce resilient, flexible operations and automated preventive maintenance with technologies such as quantum computing, 5G networks, microservices, Kubernete docker containers, hybrid open cloud technologies and convergence of systems and software engineering. Together algorithmic process and technologies are leaping to the forefront. Democratizing data analytics and artificial intelligence  for the public will help accelerate the applications and utilization for the public as well as business and organizational leaders. The convergence of both decision (data analytics) and data driven based (artificial intelligence) approaches will bring higher value and transparency to respond to supply chain disruptions . This is an important landmark where artificial intelligence will complement humanity through supply chain resiliency with the rapid innovations and contributions of process improvements coupled with better available technology.


“Over the next decade, AI won’t replace managers, but managers who use AI will replace those who don’t.”

Harvard Business Review Source: