Let AI “sneak” into the logistics center, your express will arrive soon!

Time:2021-4-18

Absrtact: Huawei uses digital and intelligent means to transform from traditional logistics operation to professional intelligent logistics. In those “invisible places”, Huawei is working silently.

Online shopping has become a “routine” in the new era, so the annual “618”, “double 11” and “double 12” rush buying wars are inevitable. Of course, it’s refreshing to rush to buy cheap goods, but in case of slow delivery of express delivery, the shopping experience seems to turn into dross and anxiety instantly.

For today’s young people, such a bad experience has already become history. It seems that since the shopping festival, the speed and smooth flow of logistics seem to be accelerating invisibly. We don’t have to worry about their speed any more. When we carefully observe these “taken for granted” little things in life, we can feel that behind this little bit of life experience, we need a huge system and organization support.

And the energy of such organizations and systems is extremely powerful. Nowadays, under the epidemic situation, in the process of globalization, reducing logistics risk and ensuring supply continuity have become the key technical topics of enterprises. As a result, Huawei, which is facing global customers, has become an absolutely high-quality case. Huawei is using digital and intelligent means to transform from traditional logistics operation to professional intelligent logistics. In those “invisible places”, Huawei is working silently. “In this algorithm, we do not intend to directly replace people’s work. What’s more important is to make this person’s work efficiency reach the optimal level first.” Zhao Na, head of Huawei’s logistics product team, explained.

Since 2015, Huawei’s entire supply chain has quietly started the process of intelligent transformation. As the logistics business under the supply chain system has also started a revolution. Before this change, it seems that we should first understand what is intelligent logistics? In fact, there is no unified concept for smart logistics, but to sum up, smart logistics is to operate all aspects of the logistics system under the control of the information system, and realize the comprehensive perception of the system, so that we can deal with all kinds of problems in time and make timely and necessary self adjustment. And smart logistics can make logistics automation, innovation and accuracy by using the cross integration of information technology and logistics technology. To realize the modern comprehensive logistics system of logistics regulation wisdom, discovery wisdom, innovation wisdom and system wisdom.

What Huawei’s logistics system should do is to build a global logistics “network” and realize the whole process “visibility” from suppliers to customers. More importantly, such a global intelligent logistics network should make internal collaboration more efficient and eliminate as much as possible

In 2016, in the global scope, to make intelligent logistics network is a difficult practice. According to the data, the completion rate index of detailed data of domestic logistics in 2016 was 84.8%, which is relatively mature. The completion rate index of cross-border logistics detail data is only 13.5%, which is significantly lower than that of domestic logistics detail data.

The lack of cross-border data link connection, terminal intelligence and data infrastructure construction are all challenges. It will be “mutually beneficial” for Huawei and its partners to do a good job in improving the efficiency brought by data Unicom Little by little, the continuous chemical reaction with big data technology in Huawei logistics finally led to the emergence of a critical point. Starting from the national warehouse (overseas warehouse) business, which has many storage points but relatively simple scenes, Huawei’s preparation cycle in the national warehouse has decreased by 10%, and the secondary transportation cost has plummeted by more than one million US dollars. At the same time, in Huawei logistics, the efficiency of vehicle cargo collaboration has been increased by 40%, the transportation cost has been saved by more than 4.5 million US dollars every year, the per capita operation efficiency of the automated storage node has been increased by 67%, and the warehouse area has been saved by about 20000 + square meters.

This is not only the real gold and silver under the real efficiency improvement and saving, but also the rising numbers with the rise of AI and data.

“A series of basic work is very time-consuming and labor-consuming. It takes a lot of human and material resources to complete. It took about four years for us to make today’s breakthrough. What we are showing now is only part of the effect of the “breakthrough”. There are still many things that need to be continuously optimized in the middle process, and we are still continuing to build. ” Zhao Na, head of Huawei’s logistics product team, explained.

Huawei’s “tug of war” in logistics transformation

For the internal logistics of Huawei, logistics business is generally divided into two types, one is manufacturing logistics. Manufacturing logistics is mainly to deliver raw materials to the factory, transfer and turnover within the factory. It is close to the factory, which is convenient to cooperate with more than 1000 raw material suppliers around the world, and can quickly transport materials from the world to the factory. In this process, how to carry out efficient collaboration is one of the challenges of manufacturing logistics.

The second is circulation logistics, also known as sales logistics. When our raw materials are processed into our semi-finished products and finished products, we need to deliver these goods to various countries around the world. We will deliver these goods to our customers through more than 7000 land flows and 1000 ports around the world, and at the same time deliver them to our telecom base stations. These points and lines constitute the global Huawei logistics network.

Because it is necessary to quickly transfer the materials from the factory to the factory according to the demand, Huawei logistics has set a small goal for itself in order to achieve “fast transfer”, that is, “one day delivery” – the suppliers should deliver the goods to the factory within one day after they arrive at the port.

This process seems very short and not complicated. But in fact, there are many things to cooperate with. Among them, Huawei logistics needs to cooperate with thousands of material suppliers. The difficulty lies in how to cooperate with these suppliers to gather raw materials, fast customs clearance, dispatch transportation, and deliver materials to the factory on time, on demand, and safely.

This is a small part of the “tug of war” of Huawei’s logistics transformation. More importantly, Huawei logistics is a contract logistics mode, and its logistics business is completed through cooperation with third-party logistics partners. This leads to the discovery that “first-hand data and materials” are even difficult to obtain when you want to cooperate.

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Five levels of Huawei’s global logistics

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Architecture diagram of full chain digital base

It took Huawei logistics more than two years to get through the “data” in its own logistics system and get the real-time data in the global network under Huawei logistics system. “If the most basic informatization is not done well, how can we talk about intellectualization? That’s unrealistic, so we spent two years to complete the informatization first. ” Zhao Na said, “the transformation of logistics started at the end of 2016, and the most important thing in the two years from 2017 to 2018 is to lay the foundation. What should we do to lay the foundation? We are doing the bottom two layers. First, we need to have data to turn all offline things into online data information. The basic process needs to be well designed and the data objects need to be specific. Then we can do the superstructure application based on these data. “

For Huawei’s logistics, the word “global” has changed the transformation difficulty index qualitatively.

Huawei has operations in more than 170 countries around the world, and there are many strongholds, among which the difficulties are transferred to DC, that is, the supply center. Huawei logistics needs to break through the data bottleneck between inland logistics and international logistics, and realize the seamless docking of production enterprise data, customs data, port data, highway data, station data, etc., so as to facilitate enterprises to track the whole process of logistics.

The supply center itself has a certain light processing business. This kind of node has a large amount of business, many collaborative business links and relatively complex business logic. “In the whole process of digitization, it is relatively difficult for us,” Zhao said. However, in the future, through the application of advanced logistics technologies such as mobile app, AIS and Internet of things, Huawei can grasp the location of vehicles, operation status in the warehouse and other information in real time, and realize the transparent sharing of information through all links, as well as the visualization of the whole process of physical flow, so as to better cooperate with people, vehicles, goods and warehouses on the line.

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Object digitization + process digitization diagram

Finally, Huawei logistics weaves out a large network of logistics data. Through the implementation of the“Digitalization of logistics objects”And“Process digitization”After that, the big network includes 4000 + line visibility of sea, land and air, 1000 + key node risk visibility, 10000 + risk event monitoring ability, and even the ability to analyze the impact on Huawei within 5 minutes. At the same time, it also has the ability to automatically warn the global warehouse capacity and the status of stock out.

“First principles” of Huawei Logistics

First principles refer to the concepts in physics. In fact, first principles are a kind of deductive method: starting from the fundamental principles, eliminating the interference factors and “common sense” knowledge. Its real power is that it can transform complex things into simple structures, which are easy for people to understand. Being able to sort out confused thinking and put aside the influence of others allows us to build from the source.

After completing the online data and rules, Huawei’s smart logistics hopes to build these “experience systems” from scratch. It transforms the experience of human induction into a visible rational “algorithm” based on logical basis.

Zhao Na gives an example of the simplest case optimal picking path algorithm. Previously, the operators prepared and picked the goods according to the order of the picking tasks assigned by the system, but only experienced operators knew how to simplify and what path was the fastest, even though the order of the goods in the document was complicated.

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Algorithm of optimal picking path

“This way of relying on experience is solved by algorithms. Employees don’t have to think too much and rely too much on experience. Even if a novice does it according to the scheme provided by AI, the efficiency can be the best.” Zhao Na said.

From the perspective of Huawei’s logistics service-oriented product architecture, it is divided into a “three-tier architecture” of data layer, domain service layer and access layer. After getting through the data information in the data layer, each link realizes the transparent sharing of information, which makes the logistics think tank in the field of service play a core role. It not only provides logic and technical services such as optimal picking path algorithm and delivery path planning algorithm to improve the efficiency of the system, but also stores and “evolves” the valuable experience gradually accumulated by Huawei logistics through AI. With the visualization and monitoring of logistics operation, Huawei has a stronger control over its internal logistics system, which makes the internal development and decision-making of Huawei logistics easy to show.

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Huawei logistics service product architecture

Many of these “optimal solution” algorithms or models are called “Ai logistics think tank” in Huawei’s logistics service product structure. It is a small engine centered on AI algorithm. Each small engine is based on the problems or business scenarios to be optimized in the whole transaction flow of Huawei logistics. In addition, it can realize the seamless connection between node operation and physical transportation, active risk warning, whole process visual management, physical “one flow” and other efficient operation modes. “The application of AI algorithm can promote the efficiency of our whole business process, and make some problems and risks be perceived in advance.” Zhao Na said.

In the whole process, Huawei has built large and small intelligent applications to assist the decision-making of the whole logistics business and make its logistics efficient. At the beginning, Huawei started from loading simulation and cargo volume estimation. Through this algorithm, the actual loading rate of Huawei’s whole loading is increased from more than 10% to more than 90% now.

“After our whole team tasted the sweet, it was out of control.” Zhao Na said. At present, from the early warning and recommendation of Huawei’s entire logistics resources to the on shelf positioning inside the warehouse, the optimization of the brief path, the tracking and early warning of international transportation on the way, the coordination and appointment, the classification and recommendation of customs clearance, the prediction of price fluctuation, including the cost of logistics, the team has built more than 50 applications, so it is called logistics think tank. However, it is not required in every scenario, so it is necessary to dynamically plug into the business application according to the business scenario and process needs, to work on the efficiency of the business or to achieve the goal of optimal cost.

In the key nodes of logistics, Huawei smart logistics can optimize the process according to different node types and scenarios, and match the most appropriate automation tools and equipment, so as to achieve hourly fulfillment ability and greatly improve work efficiency.

Among them, the key warehouse uses the wide and narrow integration of LTE wireless communication technology and IOT platform to uniformly connect and manage AGV, automatic code scanner and other logistics automation equipment, and widely connect to pallets, forklifts and other assets through narrow-band IOT network, so as to realize the functions of automatic entry and exit, automatic inventory and accurate asset positioning and tracking, creating an efficient and fast intelligent warehouse Energy storage.

Take personal travel as an example. Nowadays, we use a lot of travel apps to travel. We all take a look at flights, taxi fever, congestion, etc. to make travel plans and determine a satisfactory flight is our personal travel resource choice.

For the freight business, and freight global, resources are particularly important. How to dynamically perceive how many resources are available in the whole network and how to ensure that the supply is not interrupted is a very important ability. Some time ago, due to the impact of the epidemic, the epidemic not only affected travel, but also affected the freight network. Take Latin America as an example. Due to the outbreak of the global epidemic, many airlines have been shut down, routes have been interrupted, and the quality of freight has declined. However, Huawei logistics team can bring in the required data of these airlines, including its capabilities and capacity information, so as to ensure that Huawei’s goods can be delivered to customers in time and on demand.

Huawei logistics has also realized the intelligent transformation of Huawei in the field of logistics through a team of more than 100 people. More importantly, AI technology is really used to help Huawei logistics improve efficiency and collaboration, and reduce production costs. At the same time, with the cooperation and optimization of AI in the future, Huawei’s valuable experience will not only be stored, but also continue to evolve iteratively, bringing a “new model” of intelligent logistics to large enterprises.

For Huawei logistics, people are all process drivers, operators and collaborative suppliers. These are all Huawei’s objects, and Huawei brings them in structurally and digitally. With these data, you can find your data base based on these data.

More importantly, based on these data, Huawei logistics has achieved four connections: first, connect ecological partners; second, connect offline and online; third, connect it and OT, and get through the physical world; finally, data should be able to connect our applications to get through the data boundary, never put data into the server, and become a sleeping asset.

Today, with the growth of industrial Internet, the intelligent transformation of Huawei logistics can be seen as the result of long-term continuous growth driven by real demand and pain points. In the future, Huawei’s AI collaboration ability of logistics can enable more enterprises by releasing spillover, and its intelligent transformation methodology can also bring new thinking to more traditional industries.

It is undeniable that AI, the new kinetic energy of the interconnection of all things, is creating real value.

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