Application of artificial intelligence in the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation

FFI-Report 2024
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Annabel Garred Kristin Waage Petter Fredrik Hemnes
Artificial intelligence (AI) is commonly understood as the ability of machines to exhibit what is normally regarded as intelligent behaviour. It has already shown great potential in increasing efficiency and improving quality in multiple sectors and is considered to be a key element of digitalisation. Both national and international businesses are using AI to make better decisions, improve internal processes, and provide better goods and services. Logistics is highlighted as one of the areas where AI can create value both in civil and military organisations. It is also included as one of five key areas in the recently published AI strategy for the Norwegian defence sector. Our report aims to identify applications of AI that are relevant to the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation (NDLO). It presents five different areas where the NDLO can benefit from AI in both a near-term and long-term perspective. Moreover, it identifies challenges that must be overcome to ensure that the NDLO benefits from AI. Our report also presents assessments of the potential for the different AI applications to increase efficiency or provide other improvements for the NDLO. In our report, we address applications in the following areas: warehouse logistics, maintenance, procurement and planning, education and training, and administrative tasks and management. The applications include using AI to automate warehouse functions, implement digital assistants, predict maintenance needs, and estimate future needs for personal clothing and equipment. AI may have a great potential in contributing to efficiency improvements in the NDLO. However, the organisation’s maturity for AI will impact its ability to benefit from the technology – especially in the short term. Overall, we assess the NDLO’s maturity for AI, as well as digitalisation more broadly, to be low. This is due to challenges such as weak strategic governance and leadership, poor data quality, insufficient technical infrastructure for enabling AI solutions, lack of knowledge or understanding of AI among personnel, lack of coordination across organisational units, fragmented organisational set-up, and difficulties in securing sufficient financing over time. We recommend that the NDLO ensures that AI becomes part of its strategic work and planning related to digitalisation and that it develops a portfolio of relevant AI initiatives. To succeed with AI in the future, the NDLO must start exploring and experimenting with the technology as soon as possible. We thus recommend to quickly initiate 2–3 AI pilot projects. We also recommend consolidating currently fragmented organisational units working on digitalisation. Such consolidation is not a prerequisite for the NDLO to get started with AI, however. Furthermore, we recommend working systematically and continuously on establishing an AI culture, as well as enhancing the organisation’s knowledge about AI and the quality of its data. Finally – and in addition to focusing on AI adoption – we recommend continuing and intensifying the work related to other digitalisation efforts, such as process automation and increased used of barcode readers and sensors. Those initiatives contribute to increasing the digital maturity and simplify the transition to AI.

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