Chat GPT for Supply Chain and Logistics

Emerging technologies such as Chat GPT and Google Bard have the capability to transform how companies navigate their supply chain and logistics.

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted how fragile supply chains are. Labor shortages on the ground and in the back office were felt around the world. Chat GPT holds the promise of becoming a trusted assistant that can help people accomplish more in the same amount of time.

What is Chat GPT and Google Bard?

ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI and Google’s Bard are large language models (LLMs) that are trained on a massive amount of text data. They can communicate and generate human-like text in response to a wide range of prompts and questions, such as providing summaries of research, translating between languages, and assisting with computer programming or other complex tasks.

For this article, we will only reference Chat GPT. It’s important to know that there are many competitors and alternative options. Chat GPT was the first company to publish an AI Chatbot that was truly transformative and is currently the leader in the field.

How can Chat GPT be used for Supply Chain

The term supply chain management was initially coined in 1982 by Keith Oliver, a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton. Keith discussed the need to better manage the entire process of moving goods from suppliers to the end customer through a coordinated and integrated approach.

The level of integration and pure complexity of supply chains today would have been hard to imagine in the 1980s even though it was not that long ago. The complexity and required speed of moving products at minimal cost has become increasingly more important and exponentially more difficult.

Chat GPT Could Answer Questions about Data

Supply Chain Analysts and Operations Analysts are a go-to resource anytime something in the supply chain goes wrong. Whether it’s a freight rate variance compared to standard, to potential freight union strikes, or supplier performance and reliability they can get spread thin.

Microsoft recently announce Copilot 365 for Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Power BI. Microsoft invested $10 billion into Chat GPT creator OpenAI in 2022 and has been aggressively integrating Chat GPT into all of their products.

At the time of writing, these features were still in preview or not released to the general public, but they will allow people to easily interact with Microsoft Excel and Power BI without having much technical knowledge of how to use the platforms.

Microsoft Copilot 365 Example Within Excel answering Questions about Data

If you are currently a heavy user of Microsoft Excel or another Business Intelligence Solution such as Power BI, Alteryx, or Tableau we highly recommend checking out our guides on how to use the software more effectively with Chat GPT. It’s a great way to unlock previously under-utilized features.

Using Google Bard or Bing Chat for ESG Compliance

In some ways, supply chain and logistics have not changed at all over the last several decades. In other ways, there are compliance challenges that many people would have never imaged. Navigating the world of sustainable sourcing, supplier audits, and carbon footprint reporting can be exhausting.

In our first example, we ask Google Bard to summarize upcoming ESG reporting requirements for the EU. It’s not as comprehensive as you would need to actually execute the new compliance requirements, but it can be enough to give you an idea of what to start thinking about and preparing for.

Google Bard answering Questions about EU ESG Compliance and the CSRD in 2024

As the world of ESG becomes more complicated and more demanding the number of certifications that customers ask suppliers to maintain will grow. While the individual details of each certification requirement can be difficult to keep track of, Chat GPT or Google Bard can provide you with background information.

Certifications like the ISO 14000 family of sustainability certifications do not have to take up weeks of valuable time just to understand, a new set of AI tools can summarize and even outline or write a first draft of the requirements so you can spend more time implementing them.

Creating Better Training Materials for Quality Control

We gave Chat GPT-4 (The latest version of Chat GPT) the following instructions:

Write a standard operating procedure for inspecting a metal pocket knife for quality and packaging compliance when being shipped from China to the United States. Include specific checks for metallurgy to ensure that it contains the appropriate amount of chromium for 7cr17

It output a 2 page, 429 set of formatted instructions. It’s likely not the exact instructions that a company would produce for a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) but it is a good starting point if you are tasked with creating one yourself.

Note: Chat GPT provides the best results when you provide very clear and exact instructions. The more detail that you give it, the better and more pointed the content will be. GPT-4 provides better writing style than GPT 3.5, but both create excellent starting points to build off of.

Chat GPT Generating a Standard Operating Procedure for Quality Control Checks of a Foreign Factory

Translating Documents with Chat GPT

Chat GPT does an excellent job of translating documents from English to Mandarin and many other common languages and less common languages. For mission critical conversions, we still recommend finding a native speaker to double check the work of Chat GPT but it can be significantly less expensive to have a native speaker proofread and adjust vs. having them write the entire conversion from the start.

Example of Chat GPT Translating SOP instructions for a factory audit into Mandarin from English

Enable Better System Integration (EDI) with Suppliers

Supply chain professionals at large corporations generally have an equally large team to lean on. Smaller and mid-sized companies do not always have the resources available that large companies do, and people working at large companies may not get their projects prioritized.

To get a new supplier onboarded, some companies will have Electronic Data Interface (EDI) requires to push purchase orders (POs) and to receive payments. The process of setting up a new EDI can be absolutely daunting. The specific manuals are highly complex and difficult to read.

While Chat GPT will not know the exact EDI requirements needed for a supplier, it can guide you through the generic setup of the EDI specification.

Example of Chat GPT providing broad guidance on establishing a purchase order EDI

Tracking Freight Rates with Google Bard

One of the limitations with Chat GPT from OpenAI is that it only contains data going up to September 2021. We expect that this will change at some point in the future, but for now it is a limitation of the system. Luckily we can utilize resources such as Google Bard.  Bard and Bing Chat are both trained on live data and can access the internet.

In this example, we asked Google Bard to provide freight rates for the last 10 days. You can get more complicated and ask it to provide information on ocean freight and DOE fuel surcharge rates but we do recommend checking the numbers the first few times until you are confident that the AI is providing accurate information.

Google Bard providing up to date Freight Rate information in a table


Whether you work in logistics, supply chain, or as an analyst supporting these vital parts of our economy, Chat GPT has the capability to save you massive amounts of time.

We revied a number of different use cases that are industry specific, but as the technology becomes more tightly integrated with the office applications that are used every day, the opportunities to save time will continue to grow. There are many generic business use cases, such as using Chat GPT to Summarize E-mails, or even write responses to vendors or customer questions that you’re not quite sure what the best wording would be.

Copy and paste the e-mail into Chat GPT and ask it to write a polite response, and it will write a greate response in a matter of seconds. It’s not a huge time savings but a few minutes here and there are sure to add up over the coming years.

The future is bright for technologies like Chat GPT and there are a lot of opportunities for people to begin using it in the supply chain. As the world continues to move faster and faster, Chat GPT just may be the tool that helps you keep up.

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