SAP unveils AI-driven supply chain developments to transform manufacturing


SAP SE has announced AI advancements in its supply chain solutions that the company believes will unleash a transformative wave of productivity, efficiency and precision in manufacturing.

AI-driven insights from real-time data will help companies optimise decisions across their supply chains, streamline product development and improve manufacturing efficiency.

Accurate and relevant real-time information helps mitigate the disruption that most suppliers, manufacturers and distributors worldwide are currently experiencing. Businesses already have high expectations for the use of AI in improving their supply chains, with the main benefit perceived as cost savings (60%), logistics improvement (56%), contingency planning (53%), and enhanced inventory management (50%) according to new research from SAP UKI. However, this latest research highlights that businesses are now recognising AI's potential to transform their entire supply chain operations and drive efficiency by plugging skills gaps, amongst other things.

Ryan Poggi, Managing Director of SAP UKI, said: “Traditional supply chain management processes are not fit for purpose to address the volume and variety of disruption that exists today. Future AI innovation, especially generative AI, will change this and is the greatest opportunity since the rise of cloud. 

“The benefits are so big that it this has triggered a race for executives to quickly develop plans to create AI-enabled value across their organisation. But, as leaders, we have a responsibility to ensure our businesses use AI responsibly to help transform companies faster than ever. Supply chains are generally low risk, so are a great place to start. Now is the time to embrace AI ethically and leverage company data to make your business much more resilient now and in the future.”

Demand for supply chain resiliency has surged following a series of disruptions to global trade, and due to highly publicised shortages of goods, from microchips to vegetable oil —supply chain issues continue to take centre stage in boardroom discussions. Steps have been taken to address supply chain challenges facing the UK, but disruptions continue to have a significant impact, leading to 59% of organisations facing production delays, 55% suffering decreased revenues and nearly half (46%) losing customers (according to new research from SAP).

SMA Solar Technology AG and other customers have already witnessed the benefits of SAP’s solutions, including an approximately 15% increase in supply chain workforce productivity, a 10% decrease in overall supply chain planning costs and a 10% reduction in inventory carrying costs and stock turnover rate. 

“SMA Solar modernises its manufacturing execution systems to support sustainable, risk-resilient manufacturing operations with the power of AI-enabled visual inspection in the SAP Digital Manufacturing solution,” said Heiko Kehm, SMA Solar head of IT Order to Cash.

Key improvements to SAP’s supply chain solutions supporting an AI-centric strategy include:

  • Optimising decisions across the supply chain with AI-driven insights: Companies can now leverage higher volumes of machine data and integrate AI-driven visual inspection by computer into their production processes, enabling a remarkable increase in quality through automation. 
  • Streamlining product development: Product developers can now use SAP’s AI copilot Joule to gather and enhance new product ideas quickly and effectively using natural language queries. Joule also helps tag product designs with business data, so they visually contextualise business-critical information. 
  • Detecting equipment anomalies: Using AI, asset operators can proactively address potential breakdowns based on sensor data collected from smart devices and edge gateways. This new capacity utilises the cutting-edge Cumulocity IoT platform from Software AG, which is planned to be embedded in the SAP Asset Performance Management application in Q3. 
  • Improving field response: Customers can optimise driving routes and allocate job assignments efficiently with integrated real-time traffic data and machine-learning-trained models, which enable the right field service technicians to reach their destinations on time. 

Conor Riordan, Chair, UK & Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG), said: “SAP sits at the heart of many of our members’ supply chains and remains a business-critical source of insight. The rapid advances in AI promise to help organisations derive more value from their supply chain data, navigate disruption and achieve greater operational efficiency. We look forward to seeing how SAP’s AI-powered supply chain solutions will drive real-time decision making, and being able to share further product details with our membership.”

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