AI in Manufacturing: A Game-Changer for Optimized Production

Are your manufacturing processes outdated? Have you heard about AI and you’re not sure if it would be a good fit for your company?

Implementing AI is no small task and there is a lot of work involved. However — if done correctly — it can have a plethora of benefits for you, your company, and your employees.

Let’s take an in-depth look at what AI is, its benefits and limitations, how other companies are benefiting from the technology, and how you can start utilizing AI in your current processes.

AI in Manufacturing is a Game-Changer 

If you are not tech-savvy or up to date with the latest technology, artificial intelligence might seem confusing or scary to you. 

You could be wondering if it’s going to replace you or your employees and if it will bring more harm than good. Let’s take a look at what AI is and how it can benefit the manufacturing industry.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the concept of machines being able to learn through visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation. The field of AI was first introduced in the 1950's by John McCarthy. Since then, the industry has grown and become a part of our everyday lives.

With the creation of navigation systems for cars and Amazon’s Alexa, AI is already benefiting the average consumer and being used in their homes. Advancements in the field are quickly changing the manufacturing industry and spurring the next industrial revolution. 

Industry 4.0: The 4th Industrial Revolution

The way companies design and manufacture new products will be completely changed forever with the implementation of AI. 

  • During the first revolution, manual labor was replaced and improved with the help of machines. 
  • In the second revolution, we speed up those machines with the inventions of gasoline and electricity. 
  • Next came the digital era and the birth of the internet.

Fast forward to the present, and now we are entering the 4th industrial revolution. The introduction of artificial intelligence will help make our machines smarter and capable of things we can only dream of yet.

How AI is Changing the Manufacturing Industry

AI brings some exciting changes to the way we process and analyze data and the way we manufacture products. Robots are performing manual labor, and the need to upskill employees will be crucial. 

Just like when CAD replaced drafting boards, businesses will be forced to adapt to the new technology to avoid being phased out or acquired by more progressive companies.

Benefits of AI

Proper implementation of AI will boost employee productivity and creativity, increase the agility of your business, improve engagement with your customers, and jump-start new product innovations.

Benefits of AI in Manufacturing

  • Predictive maintenance.
  • Faster actions and decisions.
  • Innovative products, services, and materials.
  • Improved efficiency.
  • Higher precision with reduced human error.
  • Reduced product and service costs.
  • Exponential scale.
  • Augments human skills.
  • Accelerates process timing.
  • Solves complex problems quickly.
  • Improves product and service quality.
  • Increases productivity.
  • Manages corporate task and domain knowledge.
  • Fewer biases in decision making.

The Limitations of Manufacturing AI

Artificial intelligence comes with some limitations. It is only as smart as the data it receives — and human error can skew the results. Missing or incomplete data will impact the accuracy of the AI. You will need skilled workers to operate it, and initial costs can be difficult if you have little capital to work with. 

Examples of AI in Manufacturing

Several companies have already begun utilizing AI in their manufacturing processes. The following cases are some examples of what is possible with AI.Enter your text here...

Siemens

Siemens is a German conglomerate that aims to monitor, record, and analyze everything in manufacturing from design to delivery. Their biggest AI success story involves gas turbines. 

Siemens installed over 500 sensors in its gas turbines to monitor temperature, pressure, stress, and other data. This data is then fed into their neural-network AI. It takes this data and creates optimal conditions for combustion by adjusting the fuel valves. 

“Even after experts had done their best to optimize the turbine’s nitrous oxide emissions, our AI system was able to reduce emissions by an additional 10-15%.” - Dr. Norbert Gaus, Head of Research in Digitalization and Automation

Toyota

The Toyota manufacturing plant located in Sweden is utilizing AI in trolleys. These trolleys are filled with baskets of tools, parts, and other components. With the help of the onboard AI, they navigate around the factory and can avoid obstacles and collisions. 

The trolleys know where they are, what they are carrying, and where they need to take their load to in the factory.

LG CNS

LG CNS is a Korean company that is well-known for its cloud-based smart factory service. They implemented Microsoft Azure Document DB and HDInsight to automate their manufacturing process and monitor production efficiency. 

It gathers production histories and uses Azure Machine Learning to predict emerging defects and make their processes more efficient.

How AI is Changing the Workforce: Will Robots Replace People?

AI and the internet of things (IoT) will bring about drastic changes in the way we currently manufacture products. Eventually, manual labor jobs will be performed by robots, and skilled employees will be needed to operate and oversee the AI and data collected. This will not happen overnight, however.

According to Matt O’Neill in the Business Futures Podcast by Datel, the 2-3 year forecast predicts the number of multitasking robots available will be approximately 5% of the current 200 million people who are unemployed. 

Until humans become less cost-effective than robots, companies will be slow to implement them. Businesses with small working capital can begin by integrating sensors to collect data and upskilling their current employees to use these sensors and interrupt the data they collect.

Implementing AI into Your Manufacturing Processes

1.

Analyze and Identify Your Current Processes

Before you can effectively implement AI into your manufacturing, you need to know what your processes are. Once you have defined them, you can take a closer look and see where improvements can be made.

2.

Use Sensors and Smart Technologies to Collect Data

Research into the current sensors and technology available to determine what would be most beneficial for you to invest in. Options include but are not limited to, motion detectors, accelerometers (measure speed), gyroscopes (measure the angle of tilt), actuators (moves and controls a mechanism), or GPS navigation systems.

3.

Implement AI to Interpret the Data and Automate Processes

Once you know what type of data is being collected, you can use AI to interpret that data for you and make decisions on what to do next.

Stay in the Loop

The manufacturing industry is constantly changing, and businesses have to adapt quickly if they want to stay ahead. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate, and you don’t want to fall behind.


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