Goodbye Gupta ji
"I still reminisce those days when every warehouse was well-managed and effectively regulated by what we called a Warehouse-manager. He used to ensure proper accounting and inward and outward of goods, update his stock register, make sure the physical count of goods matched the register, and accordingly informed the account team, sitting at a different location to pass necessary entry. I still remember, my father being proud of this system and used to call it ‘Real-Time updating of stock’ in those days. For him, our warehouse manager, Mr. Gupta ji was the initiating point and executor of this real-time system in place. Whenever he used to visit the warehouse, he used to enjoy a cup of tea with him, hear from his about the issues, review the stock register, ignoring his bad handwriting and instead praising him for understanding what he himself wrote and updating correctly to the accounts team.
When I look around today though, things and processes are pretty different. Most organizations are considering a shift from having a ‘Gupta ji’ to getting their processes automated. Now when we walk down to the warehouse, we see systems in place doing their role. We don’t see Gupta ji keeping track of every inward and outward in his register, but systems recording every movement with many more particulars, capable of generating instant reports, and integrating the goods movements with the accounting software. This what Real-time in true sense means. Maybe our human intelligence is well-equipped to develop Article Intelligence in a way that could replace multiple humans against one system. Emotionally speaking, Artificial Intelligence is on its hard-run path to replace humans wherever possible, but practically speaking this is what lies in the future and humans will have to find jobs behind a system to run it.
Specifically speaking about Supply Chain and Warehouse Management, Artificial Intelligence has taken a commodious leap with replacing every leg of human-based effort with system-backed processes and automation. Let’s consider a simple scenario of purchasing goods and transporting them to a warehouse. Where traditionally, a warehouse manager used to inform the purchase officer about stock-out of goods, the purchase officer used to place order for goods, the supply chain officer used to arrange for transportation, and ensure prompt delivery from supplier’s place to warehouse, the warehouse manager would update the incoming stock in his register and update the accounts team, and accounts team based on GRN would book for the purchase made. While this process would typically involve 5-6 people, multiple days and lots of co-ordination efforts, let’s see how Artificial Intelligence re-defined this process. Now, typically the stock details have to be put in the system and the system monitors the stock levels. As soon as the stock falls below the MOQ, a requisition request is automatically sent to the purchase team, from there an automated PO is sent to the supplier to arrange for material. Correspondingly, while the material is being prepared, request to transporter to arrange for transport is sent and the goods are accordingly delivered to the warehouse. Once goods are received in the warehouse, the GRN is generated in the system which is integrated with the accounting system and accordingly the entry is posted in the books. This whole process, which traditionally would take a lot of co-ordination efforts and planning, also at times increasing the lead time, AI would complete the entire process without much co-ordination, self-planning and a much lesser lead time, not to forget with a lot of cost saving too.
While even this system in some countries is being partially replaced by robots taking over the entire end-to-end process right from supply chain to warehouse management, it is hereby for us to think if we need to brake on the AI development in this sector, in India – a country with abundant human resources or we still continue accelerating the AI development. Though, that thought lies for some years down the line, one thing is getting clearer that AI in Supply Chain and Warehouse Management is not only being accepted but effectively used increasingly by organizations in India and more will be joining this clan with the given cost advantages and on-time execution of processes. With this growing trend, maybe somewhere we will have to forget Gupta ji and bid him an adieu. With new systems coming in and with the growing importance and use of AI, it is perhaps time to welcome in the new real-time and with a heavy heart just say – ‘Goodbye Gupta ji!’"
About the Author
Mr Rohan has collaborated with us as our professional blogger. He is a Chartered Accountant by profession and has done his Master's Course from IIM Bangalore. He enjoys writing blogs, books and making films. He is also a Management Consultant and has his firm which focuses primarily on business, management & tax consulting