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ASCM Insights

AI takes center stage at ASCM CONNECT: North America


The rise of AI is revolutionizing the supply chain, making networks more efficient and industry professionals even more in demand. 

Check out the top 5 takeaways from Tuesday at ASCM CONNECT: North America! 

1. AI was the trend of the day, with the thought-provoking keynote, several educational sessions and a fascinating innovation lab all exploring this very hot topic. Attendees discovered how AI is making supply chains more efficient, resilient and sustainable.

Yossi Sheffi, Ph.D., MIT professor and director of the university’s Center for Transportation and Logistics, spoke about the 5th industrial revolution. He called it “the future of advanced technology, where machines and people work together to amplify human creativity.” 

Sheffi explained that this concept is all about complementary capabilities. For instance, machines perform analysis, execute orders and identify potential risks; then, humans make decisions, intervene or escalate if needed, and choose which risks to mitigate and manage. 

He also noted some of the key human qualities, which AI lacks: ability to understand context, moral codes and values, negotiation, collaboration, the ability to handle unexpected situations, and creative drive. “Supply chains are between people,” Sheffi explained. “It’s hard for a machine to replace that.” 

Later in the day, Sheffi joined Simon Ladd of Bristol Myers Squibb, John DeSarbo of ZS, and Pedro Neto of Hewlett-Packard for a panel. The speakers considered the potential of machine learning, large language models and generative AI to transform how networks are designed and orchestrated.  

During her educational session, Erin McFarlane of Fairmarkit described how her company’s AI-driven, third-party purchasing system is supporting key strategic initiatives and transforming procurement at Carlisle Interconnect Technologies. The case study highlighted how AI-powered purchasing can shift indirect spend activities from tactical to strategic. 

At a TECHTalk, Steve Miller of DeepLogica discussed how his firm’s AI solution helps clients predict delivery performance and enhance the customer experience. Attendees came away with clear strategies for using AI to redefine delivery through machine learning models. 

Caterpillar’s Brent Ruth, CPIM-F, CSCP-F, CLTD-F, SCOR-P, also led a compelling talk about AI. His educational session explored how the technology continues to push boundaries and take supply chain beyond everyday business applications, devices and tools. By sharing the basics of AI in modern manufacturing, Ruth helped participants learn how to separate reality from hype. 

2. ASCM members perused the brand-new Supply Chain Knowledge Center app, which features the latest best practices and continuing education, as well as a handy spot to connect with supply chain colleagues to ask questions, discuss best practices and share lessons learned.

Download the app to stay up to date on trends, best practices and continuing education. You’re just a click away from the ASCM Supply Chain Dictionary, microlearnings to expand your knowledge, on-demand webinars, mentors, volunteer opportunities and lots more. Plus, the Supply Chain Knowledge Center automatically tracks all earned certification maintenance points!  

3. Start-Up Row was a big hit in the expo hall, with several new ventures showcasing their supply chain innovations. The concept is new this year and was developed to give these companies access to the world’s largest supply chain association and help propel their business forward. 

One advanced tech solution uses blockchain to makes supply chains more transparent, sustainable and efficient. The platform by Verdethos helps users track the movement of goods from raw materials to finished products. Map data is then extracted for reporting and analysis about important issues, such as deforestation and related environmental impacts. 

Another start-up,, offers a portable, wireless data logger used to collect and store data remotely. It’s designed for use in cold chain applications, such as the transportation and storage of temperature- and humidity-sensitive products. 

The supply chain talent gap is the focus of Purepost, which helps companies identify qualified candidates, with a focus on diversity and reduced bias. Users are able to optimize hiring processes through automated sourcing, screening, matching, interview scheduling and the collection of valuable feedback.  

AI was also on display in Start-Up row, with innovator bcom sharing how its price-comparison site saves supply chain organizations time and money when shopping for tools and supplies. Its “AI copilot” provides critical data about products, price trends, vendor information and more. 

4. With the conference taking place right along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, it’s no surprise that ASCM CONNECT facility tours were extra delicious this year. Attendees saw firsthand how many exciting local businesses develop their products and manage their supply chains. 

At the Angels Envy Distillery tour, visitors witnessed the bourbon distillation process from start to finish and enjoyed tastings of a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey and a rye that’s finished in Caribbean rum casks. And at brandy distillery Copper and Kings, guests discovered a unique approach to aging: The spirits “listen” to curated music 24/7.  

Meanwhile, people at the Louisville Slugger factory had the opportunity to check out a different kind of hard stuff: the iconic baseball bats from forest to field. The Churchill Downs tour put Kentucky Derby history in the spotlight and even let attendees participate in a mock racing event. And at the UPS Worldport, the heart of UPS’s global air network, visitors got an up-close view of this technological marvel covering 5.2 million square feet!   

5. ASCM demonstrated its ongoing commitment to resource conservation and sustainable business practices by incorporating these priorities into all levels of the planning and execution of ASCM CONNECT: North America.

First, the Kentucky International Convention Center is a LEED Silver Certified Facility. It was constructed with sustainably sourced materials to support recycling and reduce energy used for events.    

In addition, ASCM went zero-plastic and eliminated all paper materials by using digital signage and making programs, maps and session collateral available on the ASCM CONNECT app. And instead of handing out the usual tote bag of conference swag at registration, attendees received refillable water bottles.  

Even the ASCM Awards of Excellence trophies were manufactured with Mother Earth in mind. They're made from cherry wood, which grows quickly and is abundant in many parts of the world, allowing for more sustainable harvesting. In addition, the wood and printing were sourced locally, reducing transportation emissions and offering greater transparency. (Psst! Speaking of the awards, be sure to keep an eye out for tomorrow’s newsletter, where we’ll share the big reveal of this year’s six honorees!)

Don't miss a moment of ASCM CONNECT: North America!  

These stories are just the beginning. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to be a part of all the fun. And mark your calendar for next year’s premier supply chain conference, September 9-11, in Austin! 

About the Author

Elizabeth Rennie Editor-in-Chief, SCM Now magazine, ASCM

Elizabeth Rennie is Editor-in-Chief at ASCM. She may be contacted at

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