AI in fulfillment as a competitive advantage

AI in fulfillment as a competitive advantage

Artificial intelligence gives MS Direct AG in Eastern Switzerland and its customers a competitive edge. For now, the company is focusing on the use of AI in its warehouses.

Digitalization has already arrived at St. Gallen-based MS Direct AG. Head of Operations COO Fabrizio Anner says artificial intelligence applications have been in use at MS Direct since 2019. “We found our first use case in the customs clearance of e-commerce shipments. We use self-learning algorithms to translate EU tariff numbers into the Swiss customs format.” This application was co-developed in a project with the University of St. Gallen, he said.

In the meantime, 95 percent of the tariff numbers can be translated automatically. In addition, MS-Direct has been testing a self-learning algorithm in returns processing for several months that automatically detects and classifies defects and stains on garments.

With the help of this application, we can process textiles in the returns area faster and more uniformly and support employees in complex cases.

Fabrizio Anner, COO MS Direct AG

He sees the greatest potential of artificial intelligence applications at MS Direct in the areas of data processing, such as customs clearance, planning and optimization of supply chains and warehouse capacity such as inventory, and automation of warehouse processes through the introduction of self-driving and -acting robots.

Valuable digitization.

Digitizing processes has always proven valuable so far, he continues. But the right conditions would have to be in place, such as accessible, structured data. Likewise, a critical mass of movements is needed for the use of robotics. The use of AI is particularly suitable for use cases with large volumes, recurring patterns and less complex questions. In borderline cases, he said, humans are the better option.

The competitive advantage also speaks for the use of AI. “We can work faster and more cost-effectively with AI applications.” Customers would also increasingly demand automated and expeditious processes. “In doing so, we’re helping them gain a competitive advantage as well,” Anner says.

Automated small parts warehouse coming in 2023.

At MS Direct, automation would initially focus on processes in warehouses. This year, for example, a packaging machine was installed that cuts cartons to size and thus requires little carton waste and filling material. “At the beginning of next year, we’re setting up an automated small parts warehouse that uses robots to automatically pick items, i.e., make them ready for packaging.” In addition, he said, MS Direct will conduct further pilot projects with self-driving robots that move packages and pallets through the warehouses.

To the article in the St. Galler Tagblatt:

Robots in action at MS Direct AG in St.Gallen (tagblatt.ch)