To most people, Artificial Intelligence (AI) probably means sci-fi movies with robots and computers performing inconceivable human tasks. While this is partly true, what AI truly brings to the table is enabling machines to carry out intelligent tasks. As the challenges faced by global decision-makers skyrocket, there is an urgent need to propel businesses and societies forward using the most modern technology. With the world changing at an unprecedented speed, businesses need to revamp and restructure how machines and humans work. And AI is helping meet those goals. According to Forrester, Cognitive technologies such as robots, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation will replace 7% of US jobs by 2025.
The Changing Dynamics
The manufacturing sector is characterized by an environment full of uncertainties and evolving dynamics. With ever-growing market volatility, manufacturers need to constantly innovate, adapt and respond to changes in the quickest time, without hampering the quality of products, and at the least possible cost. The efficiency of a manufacturing system closely depends on how well shop floor processes respond to changes. Critical shop floor functions such as production scheduling and maintenance have to be extremely responsive, and their integration is what will result in an optimal and robust decision-making environment.
AI in Manufacturing
AI finds application in a host of industries including gaming, banking, retail, commercial, and government, and is slowly becoming pervasive in the manufacturing sector, facilitating the automation of industries. AI-driven machines are paving an easier path to the future by providing a host of benefits - offering new opportunities, improving production efficiencies, and bringing machine interaction closer to human interaction. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is being driven by the automation of knowledge-based work; by creating new ways to automate tasks, we can restructure the way humans and machines live and interact, to create a better, stronger digital economy.
AI helps overcome many inherent challenges that have been plaguing the industry: from the scarcity of expertise to decision complexity, integration issues, and information overload. Adopting AI on the shop floor enables businesses to completely transform their processes. Let's look at what AI is helping the manufacturing sector to achieve:
- Process Automation: The use of AI and robots is particularly appealing in industrial manufacturing as they revolutionize mass-production. Robots are capable of doing repetitive tasks, streamlining the production model, increasing capacity, building automation solutions eliminating human error and delivering higher levels of quality assurance.
- Round-the-clock Production: While humans are forced to work in 3 shifts to ensure continuous production, robots can enable a nonstop, 24/7 production line. Businesses can augment their production capabilities and meet the growing demand of customers worldwide.
- Safer Working Conditions: With several mishaps happening on the shop floor, a shift towards AI means fewer people have to carry out dangerous and overly laborious work. As robots replace humans and perform mundane and risky tasks, the number of workplace casualties will plummet all across.
- New Opportunities for Humans: As AI takes over the shop floor and automates boring and mundane human tasks, workers will get to focus on complex and innovative tasks. While AI takes care of menial labor, humans can focus on driving innovation and steering their business to newer heights.
- Reduced Operating Expenditure: Although bringing AI onto the shopfloor would require a massive capital investment, the ROI is substantially higher. As intelligent machines start taking care of day-to-day-activities, businesses can enjoy significantly lower overhead.
AI and industrial automation have progressed considerably in recent years. Development in machine learning techniques, advances in sensors and the growth of computing power have helped create a new generation of robots. AI helps enables machines to collect and extract knowledge, recognize patterns, and learn and adapt to new situations or environments through machine intelligence, learning and speech recognition. Using AI, manufacturers can:
- Make faster, data-driven decisions
- Enable better production outcomes
- Improve process efficiency
- Lower operational costs
- Enable greater scalability
- And facilitate product innovation
Improving Business Outcomes
The key driver of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the speed at which it is happening. With technology now at our fingertips, businesses (and even industries) can scale up with the blink of the eye, ultimately changing the way we live our daily lives (and in a fraction of the time). Using AI, industry leaders and technology pioneers can create the right platforms and solutions, ultimately improving business outcomes and driving success in today's ever-growing digital economy.