The Impact of AI: 6 Ways Manufacturing is Leveraging AI for Growth
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the way we live and work. The technology can be found everywhere, from home assistants like Alexa to simple programs on our smartphones. For manufacturers, AI makes it easier than ever to gather data, streamline production processes, and adopt new technologies.
As a result, productivity is up, and costs are down. With so many benefits for businesses, AI is becoming an invaluable tool for manufacturers around the globe. Here are six ways AI is changing the manufacturing industry.
1. Increasing Workplace Safety
Cobots, or collaborative robots, are intended to operate securely alongside people. Cobots, which are cheaper and simpler to program than conventional industrial robots, are small and light. Cobots can assist employees with more complicated activities and even take on dangerous tasks, this, in turn, can help establish safer working conditions. In addition, machine learning algorithms will eventually be able to enhance industrial robots’ ability to communicate with people and accept human commands.
By analyzing large quantities of data, machine learning identifies significant patterns. This allows the system to learn and develop without being programmed for a specific purpose. For example, a robot might recognize a hazardous scenario and take preventative steps to avoid harm.
On the other hand, the rule-based approach of many autonomous robotic systems means that robots are trained for a job and cannot respond to changes or unexpected behaviors. This is, unfortunately, a limitation in today’s AI technology that currently restricts the full implementation of robotic workers. However, as AI continues to develop, there may be a time that AI takes over the majority of the manufacturing process.
2. Facilitating Preventative Maintenance
Production equipment maintenance is usually predetermined, wasting precious labor time and increasing the danger of unexpected equipment failure. Given that predictive maintenance has an annual cost of about $0.5 trillion to $0.7 trillion globally, it’s no surprise that it’s where AI can provide the most value in manufacturing. In fact, most AI use cases in manufacturing are linked to maintenance.
Predictive maintenance uses past machine performance data to predict failures, reduce downtime, and pinpoint the underlying cause of the problem. A machine breakdown halts manufacturing and can add up to significant costs. Downtime on an assembly line can be prevented by AI’s capacity to analyze vast quantities of data, including audio and video. According to a McKinsey report, predictive maintenance lowers machine downtime by 30-50% and improves machine life by 20-40%.
The downside is that this technology can be difficult and even impossible to integrate with older technology and machines. Unfortunately, that means manufacturers may have to invest in new tech, lengthening the time it takes to see a return on investment.
3. Supplementing Human Skills
Artificial intelligence is meant to enhance human skills, not replace them. Collaboration between humans and industrial robots may make work less tedious, repetitious, and more efficient.
Generative design is one example of how AI is altering manufacturing alongside humans. Airbus and New Balance use generative design technologies to generate thousands of design possibilities. Designers and engineers then choose the best results that meet the project’s requirements. In this case, AI can offer new design solutions that would otherwise be impossible, unimaginable, or take too long to develop. As a result, companies can create new products and services quicker by “co-creating” with technology.
In another use case, Canon employs Assisted Defect Recognition, which combines machine learning, computer vision, and predictive analytics. The technology is used to check manufacturing components for structural integrity by using industrial radiography (X-rays) and photos. While a technician’s single inspection is error-prone ADR evaluates images of examined components and detects potential faults before they hit the sales floor.
As this is a relatively new technology, the cost of implementation is quite high. This means that it’s currently reserved for most large-scale manufacturers.
4. Forecasting Product Demand
Accurate forecasting and prediction of demand are excellent ways to increase production efficiency and save costs. Artificial intelligence-powered systems may be beneficial in this situation since they can evaluate an extensive range of various models and potential outcomes.
Algorithms for machine learning can use data to identify significant patterns and offer real-time insights. Manufacturers could use such data to forecast demand and prioritize which goods to launch in response to that demand.
Unfortunately, this kind of technology isn’t simply a “set it and forget it” software. Machine learning requires that it be “taught” what to look for, so it can take time to analyze market trends and establish cause and effect. So it might take a while to see a return on investment, but the insights it can offer can be extremely advantageous.
5. Improving Product Inspection
To accurately detect areas where a product becomes defective, high-resolution cameras with AI-based identification algorithms are used. The primary use of this technology is to find solutions to why a product is failing quality checks. Whether it be due to a broken machine or another element influencing the product’s quality, manufacturing processes become more efficient and create better goods when these questions are answered. This is especially useful for sectors like automotive and aerospace that must maintain strict quality requirements established by regulators.
BMW Group uses AI to analyze pictures from manufacturing lines, detecting quality violations in real-time. An AI program matches vehicle order data to a live picture of the model of the freshly manufactured vehicle. The image database stores all of the collected model names, plates, and other authorized combinations. If a discrepancy is found, the system sends an email to alert the inspection team that the live picture and order data do not match.
6. Optimizing Production
Automating laborious or repetitive activities with AI can help improve manufacturing efficiency. Robotics is an excellent example of this with robots doing physical activities such as assembling, lifting, and packing. Using industrial robots in this manner frees employees from regular manual chores and allows them to concentrate on more demanding jobs. It also helps to avoid possible injuries on the job, as it lowers the requirement for manual labor.
Siemens engineers revealed its two-armed robot capable of producing prototypes without programming last year. The robot can even read CAD models, eliminating the requirement for programming. With further advancements in this field, manufacturing may become completely automated, changing the field as we know it.
While automation has reached an incredible level, it still isn’t advanced enough to be performed without human overview. Unexpected problems can cause issues as the robotic AI is still relatively linear in its process. So while the progress of AI is truly astounding, it still has a long way to go before replacing the human element altogether.
The Future of Manufacturing: The New Industrial Revolution
The world is changing. Technology is constantly evolving, and with that, so are the industries that use it. Manufacturing is no exception. The manufacturing industry has been in the business of innovation for centuries. From mechanization to automation, manufacturers have always needed to innovate to stay ahead of the competition. Now, artificial intelligence is becoming a new frontier for many manufacturers in their quest for growth and success, and several companies are using AI to their advantage to become industry leaders.
Regardless of how technology evolves, Outsource IT remains a source of knowledge for all things IT. We are committed to assisting businesses in getting the most out of their IT investments. In addition, we can assist companies in identifying the optimal route for adopting new and innovative technologies since we have significant expertise in many areas.
Contact your Outsource IT account manager to learn how we can assist you with integrating and supporting AI-enabled technologies within your organization.