The use of artificial intelligence is becoming more and more widespread in almost all sectors of the economy. “Artificial intelligence is the new electricity“, says Andrew Ng, one of the best known and most respected figures in the field, who believes that, just as the use of electricity transformed every industry and even created new industries some 100 years ago, AI will, in the longer term, completely transform every aspect of the economy. The manufacturing industry is no exception, where, together with many other digital technologies such as the cloud or the IoT (Internet-of-Things), the new opportunities offered by AI are part of the so-called Industry 4.0 concept, or in other words the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Before we start looking at where we see the potential for AI applications in manufacturing companies, it is important to clarify what we mean by AI. Well, not humanoid robots with human-level intelligence, but software applications capable of learning specific tasks from data, so-called machine learning technologies.
Coming back to the manufacturing industry, we see many applications globally. Our company is also working on developing such applications for manufacturing companies. There are several “hit” topics that many of you may have already heard of, such as predictive maintenance, where AI predicts the failure of production machines and tools based on sensor data, or automated quality control of finished products and the detection of faulty items or even automated quality control of parts brought in by suppliers.
Another growing area is cooperative robots in the case of which a human and a machine work together on a specific task, with the robot monitoring the worker’s activity and doing its job accordingly.
Beyond these most obvious applications, it is worth noting that AI can also help with more ordinary but important tasks such as searching through years of archived engineering drawings to save time for design engineers. It can also support workforce planning or the optimisation of our inventory. In addition, AI is playing an increasing role in new product development, or we can even develop products that we could not do without AI.
For developing operational machine learning systems in manufacturing and logistics systems is available. What can be more challenging is to have our own data – describing our own business processes and problems. Such data might include digital photos of faulty and not defective products, or a database that records the operational parameters that preceded previous machine failures. At the same time, the widespread application of AI, with its great business benefits, cannot be imagined without a proper transformation of the organisation, the development of staff attitudes and competences and a rethinking of operational processes.
Our company Neuron Solutions is dedicated to the enterprise implementation of AI through training, expert services and building customised solutions. Please contact us if your company is interested in AI or you already have use case ideas!