Steve Cooper, senior vice president of strategy with Paccurate, discusses how artificial intelligence is helping companies make better and more sustainable decisions about the boxes they select for use in shipment.
The process of cartonization reaches across multiple stages of fulfillment and the order-to-cash cycle, including factories, warehouses, and distribution centers. Companies looking for greater efficiencies in their supply chains are eager to obtain a clearer and more accurate picture of how many items can fit in a carton, the optimal size of the carton, and how to best meet the requirements of pallet assembly and both truckload and less-than-truckload transportation. To meet that objective, a sophisticated algorithm is needed.
Up to now, such decisions have been made by humans, but artificial intelligence offers the promise of more effective cartonization methods. And timing for arrival of the technology is especially apt, with freight pricing now taking into account the dimensions of a box as well as its weight. In addition, an AI-driven system can reduce waste, improve a company’s environmental record, and speed up the process of fulfillment and shipping.
Many elements go into the ultimate decision on which carton to use, and what to put in it. Some determinations are obvious; no one would load a box of bowling balls atop one that’s full of light bulbs. But AI can dive deeper into the process, helping to determine the best loading sequence in addition to the right size and contents of each box.
Humans remain in the mix, Cooper stresses, although an AI system is designed to make even better decisions about packaging and loading with experience. Then it can use that intelligence to instruct the human-run operation on the best cartons to use in the future. It can also educate machines that build boxes on demand.
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