“While Artificial Intelligence is poised to change many industries radically, the technology is well suited to manufacturing.” – Andrew Ng, Creator of the deep-learning Google Brain Project and adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) represents a fast-growing sector in computing. Science fictions give the impression that Artificial Intelligence is about robots with human-like characteristics; humanoids. Artificial Intelligence demonstrates human intelligence-related behaviours, which are shown to be able to think, plan, learn, and show emotions.
Then, artificial intelligence in computer science creates intelligent machines that work and reacts like humans. AI develops computer systems that can perform jobs that require human intelligence to solve real-life problems. Some of these activities include decision-making, problem-solving, speech recognition, virtual perception, and planning.
Some AI technologies you can relate to today include digital assistants like:
Surveys reveal that a large number of companies lack expert knowledge of AI. At the same time, more businesses have implemented the use of AI in executing most of their daily tasks. There is a need to educate businesses on the benefits of AI and how it can improve productivity.
Benefits of Artificial Intelligence
A research paper from the McKinsey Global Institute in 2017 “Artificial intelligence, The Next Digital Frontier”, reported high investments into AI. As a result, early adopters of AI showing similar characteristics such as digital maturity, larger business models, the adoption of AI into core activities, the adoption of multiple technologies, a focus on growth over savings, and C-level support for AI.
While there are concerns about Artificial Intelligence, organizations have not slowed down on its adoption. Companies who have adopted AI are already seeing its benefits. Projections show that companies not adopting this technology may not be able to compete in the future.
What AI offers?
- Improved efficiency through the application of AI-powered analytics
- Reduced unplanned downtime
- Better designed products
- Improved product quality
- Safety of employees
AI offers improved efficiency through AI-powered analytics. Also, it reduces unplanned downtime, betters designed products, improves product quality, and safety of employees.
As the years unfold, artificial intelligence is having more of an impact in manufacturing than in any other sector. There is no doubt that the manufacturing sector is blazing the trail in the application of artificial intelligence. As a manufacturer, you stand to gain a lot by implementing AI in your business model.
How AI is finding application in manufacturing
Today, AI technology is advancing technologies like CAD tools, machine vision, and predictive maintenance to new heights.
A huge concern for manufacturers is unplanned downtime: this is the time lost during business hours as a result of interruptions. When you would agree that a lot of money goes into the maintenance of production line machinery and equipment, this routine has a crucial impact on other operations that are asset-reliant.
Moreover, in the real world, to spot defects in a single factory, thousands of workers must work together. This task in itself is a difficult and tiring one. Predictive maintenance uses advanced Artificial Intelligence procedures in machine learning and artificial neural networks to make predictions regarding asset malfunction.
For example, a line engineer, when examining the operational data of a machine, could assume from experience that a change in vibration indicates that the cutting tool requires sharpening or outright replacement. All the information that could have affected the vibration on a machine is not available to the engineer.
After that, with an AI system in place, data, the machine’s history, and other contributing factors would be taken to suggest a more effective and informed decision. In this example, a speed change or some other fault probably caused the vibration to increase due to resonance or the natural frequency of the material.
The accuracy of operations in a factory is further improving with the implementation of AI. By creating possible areas of imperfection, AI can deliver more accurate models, which will help production floor engineers make more informed decisions.
So, if technicians and engineers can be ahead of time on which components of machines need inspection and the tools and methods to use. This results in laser-focused repairs scheduled in advance.
This form of preventive maintenance naturally increases your system’s availability, cuts costs as a result of unplanned downtime and extends the Remaining Useful Life (RUL) of production of your machines and equipment.
Collaboration between Humans and Robots
Industrial robots on the production floors are in factories either to complete repetitive tasks or those that are too dangerous for human workers. Currently, some technologies allow humans to work with collaborative robots, also known as cobots. With this in place, humans can see the improvement of the optimization of processes and productivity.
Therefore, it is natural for you to entertain some fears about the human workforce thinking to replace humans by robots. The fact is machine efficiency and human intuition are crucial to the production process.
This human-robot collaboration will also give room for workers trained for more advanced positions in design maintenance and programming.
Generative Design-Better Products
Generative design uses machine learning to mimic nature’s evolutionary approach to design. With AI can change the way we design products. One method used by engineers and designers is to enter clear instructions as input into an AI algorithm (generative design software).
Data describing restrictions and design options such as available production methods, time constraints, material options, and budget constraints can be included in the brief. The AI algorithm uses all possible configurations to proffer the best set of solutions.
Generative design is used by the most progressive companies in the world, such as Airbus, Stanley Black, and Decker, to solve engineering challenges and bring designs that the human minds could never conceive on their own.
In conclusion, advantages of the approach are that the AI algorithm is completely objective. It is not limited by what a human designer would regard as a “logical” starting point in solving a problem (it amplifies design engineers), products that better meet the needs are created in less time and with a reduced negative impact on the environment.