Sustainability is more than a trendy buzzword. It involves a range of global efforts to remake the world’s workings and preserve the environment and its resources. Sustainable practices can yield many positive outcomes for businesses that engage in them and benefit the planet. You can work towards more sustainable practices today using automation, especially in critical but complex undertakings such as supply chain management.
With intelligent automation platforms such as Kofax TotalAgility and the entire suite of supporting software, building sustainability into your supply chain is possible. Let’s explore why companies want to join the green revolution and examine how AI solutions make a difference.
Automation and the drive for sustainability
Consumers like brands that demonstrate a commitment to sustainable practices. Some even seek out companies that make such efforts a priority. Why? Businesses face enormous public and regulatory pressure to improve their operations amidst growing concerns about global resource usage and the economy’s environmental impact. Sometimes, that’s about changing business practices, enhancing industrial methods or selecting more sustainable raw materials.
The supply chain creates a considerable carbon footprint in many ways because of the many steps and people involved. Large amounts of time and energy go into time-consuming processes that aren’t as reliable as they should be. However, with today’s automation technology, gaining insights and creating improvements that weren’t possible in recent years is possible.
From reducing the number of miles that trucking providers travel over the road to understanding inventory management better, automation makes a difference. AI can support making innovative, sustainable suggestions, enhance forecasting and ensure better resource usage. Even low-level automation, such as RPA, can support efforts to reduce waste.
Streamlining order collection and approvals
Many of the processes involved in the early stages of the supply chain today occur in digital environments but are seldom automated. For example, purchase order collection often requires tedious and lengthy efforts to grab information from paperwork and move it into CRM software. Processes that are still paper-heavy also translate into higher resource usage.
Using automation tools such as RPA and cognitive document capture to classify and extract data makes a difference. This process is faster and often means you can avoid using as much paper. Both results translate into using fewer resources more effectively while you still have the data and process visibility necessary to manage customers and vendors effectively.
Optimizing load board management
Sustainability has a significant role in the actual shipment of goods today—that’s where most of a company’s carbon footprint originates. Common problems include poor utilization of available freight capacity, inefficient truck routing, and other issues that ultimately mean more fuel burned and more time wasted.
Intelligent automation tools also offer a pathway to more sustainable and effective results. For example, the Kofax Marketplace features a tool that automatically loads one of the most popular digital load boards today to identify the carriers that align with your needs. Creating smart shipping schedules is required to keep information about available carriers at your fingertips.
Maximizing shipment capacity for reduced emissions
Automation tools can reduce the fuel burned and the miles driven within your supply chain. Better load board management combined with automated insights into demand creates opportunities for load consolidation. Consolidating and timing your shipments appropriately to meet needs reduces transit costs and CO2 emissions. You can guarantee that goods reach their destinations without sending multiple shipments in half-empty trucks.
Better forecast demand to avoid unnecessary waste
Poor visibility into the level of demand your business faces complicates supply chain management. As we’ve seen over the past several years, it can be exceedingly difficult to know when to expect surges in demand. Preparing to respond to them is no easy feat, either. That can lead to over-ordering, which demands more emissions through production and transportation. Warehouse storage is often expensive—and so is the loss of disposing of unwanted products.
Intelligent automation tools can provide much more robust support in this area. You can leverage more effective forecasting across the supply chain with AI trained on your historical sales patterns and existing data. Naturally, this allows more effective predictions and roots out process inefficiencies. Ultimately, better forecasting through business process automation ensures you only order what you need with the proper safety margin. That’s a truly sustainable practice.
Track resources across the supply chain for ethical sourcing
Sustainability is sometimes a matter of looking beyond the business and going straight to the source to improve issues. Automation tools that help create detailed audit trails can give the industry better insight into the many supply chain layers. For example, where raw goods originate and their chain of custody. When the law requires specific sourcing guidelines, such efforts streamline a company’s work to remain compliant.
Supply chain sustainability also comes from choosing sources that engage in responsible or fair practices regardless of laws. Verifying that an organization follows best practices contributes to improved sustainability. All kinds of automation, from RPA to AI, can support such goals.
Build Towards a More Sustainable Future With Automation
Demonstrating a commitment to sustainability can boost your brand’s reputation, but real change means authentic benefits for your business. With automation in supply chain management, you can reduce your company’s carbon footprint while simultaneously reaping the cost savings and advantages of more efficient processes. These transformative opportunities are ready for you to explore from the back office to the warehouse. There’s never been a better time to explore using automation to achieve sustainable and cost-effective operations.