Did you ever wish you had a crystal ball to predict the future?

In the world of logistics, that is becoming a reality with the DB SCHENKER forecasting solution for collection & distribution and terminal operations. It is like having a Forecasting fortune teller for your planning needs. It is utilizing AI algorithms to forecast KPIs such as volumes and vehicle stops for the days, weeks, and months ahead. It is no ordinary crystal ball; it´s a forecasting engine powered by artificial intelligence.

With the help of the Forecasting fortune teller, DB SCHENKER logistics teams can now peer into the future and, predict upcoming volumes to enhance terminal staffing and vehicle capacity. It enables the management of branches to drive their Collection and Distribution (CoDi) business in a more predictable manner.

It empowers DB SCHENKER to make proactive decisions based on data-driven insights rather than educated guessing.

By utilizing AI, companies can optimize operations, enhance customer experiences, and stay responsive to market dynamics, ultimately driving business success. Therefore, we implemented the – already long-time ago proven – forecasting from our internal global AI department at DB SCHENKER in our operations and are actively collaborating in several other projects with them to further optimize our network.

Marc Pühler
Head of System Operations

Mapping the Future: Today’s Visionary Outlook

The Forecasting fortune teller has spread its predictions across all 26 of 42 European countries where DB SCHENKER currently operates. With the eyes set on the future, it computes predictions for up to 10 KPIs per branch, aggregating data daily for up to 3 months ahead. It considers historical data, holidays, seasonality, and events, like the frenzy of Black Friday shopping.

Picture this: Over the last couple of years, millions of people, have been flooding the digital marketplace during Black Week. But the Forecasting fortune teller knows that and is no stranger to that event. With its insights about the event, it adjusts the numbers of shipments and vehicles beforehand to meet the right demand during that period. Bringing enhanced vision into the future to the Collection & Distribution (CoDi) and terminal processes.

This enables DB SCHENKER to promptly address customer needs, enhance costs efficiency, and streamline operations.

It is important to know that the forecasting algorithm is learning with the help of human knowledge and existing data of the past. On an operational data dashboard, historical data- and new data are merged with human insights. Much like in a crystal ball, two fortunes create one forecast. DB SCHENKER makes sure to have weekly automatic assessments of recent forecast errors to get the most accurate data. This ensures the high quality and accuracy of the predictions.

Decoding the Algorithm: Unveiling the Inner Workings of the Forecasting Fortune Teller

  1. Planning: To plan the Distribution and Collection (CoDi), DB SCHENKER teams can use the AI Forecasting fortune teller in combination with their own judgement to get the best and most efficient planning.
  2. Automated forecast: Based on historical data, the engine runs daily, forecasting approximately 6.300 times per series. Predictions are integrated into the operational data dashboards for easy access and decision-making.
  3. Human check and adjustments: People need to check the forecast and adjust it based on additional knowledge or experience – enabling human and AI synergy to come up with an updated version. Eventually, a DB SCHENKER employee submits the plan to the drivers.

Bringing the Fortune Teller to Life: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Forecasting Algorithm

One of the DB SCHENKER branches is witnessing the synergy of human expertise and AI capabilities.

With the help of the Forecasting fortune teller, it is visible that the Planned values are consistently too low. Here, the fortune teller steps in, giving out a tapestry of predictions. In this use case, it becomes evident that the forecasts often align closely with reality, proving the efficiency of this AI algorithm. While the AI algorithm excels at predicting events, there is still room for improvement in handling unforeseeable situations and outliers. Despite its prowess, the algorithm is not infallible – human judgement remains invaluable in refining forecasts and adapting to new challenges.

As DB SCHENKER continues to refine and expand forecasting capabilities, the possibilities are endless. Whether it´s optimizing warehouse operations or streamlining last-mile delivery, the Forecasting fortune teller is fortuned to transform the landscape of Collection & Distribution (CoDi), one prediction at a time.

In the end, it is not about human versus machine – it is about harnessing the power of AI to augment human intelligence and drive innovation forward.

Published: March, 2024