Lauren Webster (9)

April 7, 2021

Posted by Home (ENG)

Artificial intelligence and manufacturing.

Manufacturing as an industry evolves with the times, so when technology changes and paves the way for the future, the world of manufacturing is enhanced along with it. From things like computer development programs, right up to 3D printing, mass production continues to be affected by technological changes – including artificial intelligence. AI, by its very definition, performs tasks that usually require human intelligence. In a world where humans are being replaced by robots, how far can it go before a real person is required for the job?

Algorithms are everywhere, from the adverts you see on TV, to who sees your social media posts, behind every piece of technology lies an algorithm that dictates what happens next. If robots are able to ingest information from sensors, machines, and people with the goal of applying it to algorithms that are designed to optimise operations, the future looks digital.

According to PWC, only 9% of manufacturing organisations were using AI in 2017.

AI is great, but many companies aren’t equipped with the best technology or knowledge on how to use it to be able to utilise artificial intelligence to its maximum benefit. For a business to thrive using artificial intelligence, they need to assess their ability to design and implement AI solutions in-house. If outsourcing, are they equipped for the continuation of utilising AI?

Most businesses lack the readiness in terms of skillset, scientists, data, and infrastructure to implement unique processes or solutions as an instant fix. Many would have processes, people, and machines that aren’t suited to an AI approach – further embedding that AI is an investment. Employees need to be upskilled, although AI is a technological advancement, human interaction is still a necessity for smooth integration and future success. The culture of a business is likely to change significantly and employee retention during a time of a cultural shift is a challenge in itself.

The Coronavirus pandemic has had an immeasurable impact on the digitalisation of almost every industry and has forever changed the way day-to-day tasks are completed. With more people working from home than ever before, virtual meetings, and an increase in the need for artificial intelligence, a world that would have been seen as dystopian is quickly becoming a reality.

Artificial intelligence is a fantastic tool for implementing more cost-effective strategies, including workplace safety. The pandemic pushed artificial intelligence to further tackle workplace safety, from identifying employees, thermal screening to identify illnesses, and monitoring interactions, it can result in fewer employee interactions where unnecessary, resulting in healthier members of staff, a safer workplace, and continued operations where previously many processes would have needed to come to a halt.

Machine maintenance is yet another positive to introducing AI to a manufacturing business – AI has the ability to predict when machines need maintenance and effectively deal with it before it becomes a problem. Instead of waiting for a malfunction to occur, machine learning can recognise patterns and precursors to the need for maintenance, allowing the machine to continue working at its optimum and further improving the business.

Physical security is a costly way of protecting a business, by having human security, can put employees as well as the facility at risk. By using advanced cameras and building management systems, artificial intelligence can implement security systems that identify common security breaches, deliveries, intrusions, theft and much more. The need for human security isn’t eradicated completely but can be significantly enhanced by using a machine to ensure a higher level of security.

Not only physical security but cybersecurity as well can be positively impacted by AI. Where cybersecurity is naturally digital, AI can recognise potential intrusions, malware, fraud, etc. instead of a simple cybersecurity program, AI has the ability to go that bit further.

Things as basic as warehouse processes can be simplified through AI, reducing the need for employee interaction and increasing capacity – resulting in higher profitability. The possibilities as a result of implementing artificial intelligence are boundless, there are so many more opportunities for AI to make a difference and in the current situation where digitalisation is increasing and becoming more and more effective, the future of many manufacturing businesses is changing.

According to Oxford Economics, as many as 34% of manufacturing leaders are investing in AI which is a rapid increase in comparison to PWC’s 2017 statistic.

As positive as artificial intelligence can be for a business, human intervention will always be a necessary factor to consider. Robots aren’t taking over just yet!

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