The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Is AI the New Star on the Factory Floor?

Aug 1, 2018

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The manufacturing sector has been an aggressive user of robotics and mechanization for decades. Artificial intelligence is clearly the next step for companies in this industry to improve productivity, production line, and tooling utilization, and minimize the production cost per unit. With the increasing application of AI technology into various functions, the future of artificial intelligence seems to be a bright one in the manufacturing space. The use of artificial intelligence in the manufacturing sector will take the functioning of machinery to the next level from merely doing what they are originally programmed to do. Such machines can now mimic human actions and display enhanced decision-making capabilities. Moreover, by showcasing better sensory capabilities; and, off the factory floor, predicting what will be needed and when the future of artificial intelligence in the manufacturing sector is already becoming feasible in emerging markets. Employing AI in manufacturing plants enables companies to completely transform their proceedings.

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Future of AI in Manufacturing

New Manufacturing Markets

As far as the manufacturing sector is concerned, capital margins are often higher when compared to the profit margins. This has fueled the shift of manufacturing facilities to lower-wage countries, where the costs of labor are low. Here, capital investments in AI and automation were hard to justify for companies in the manufacturing sector. However, the rising -living standards in low-wage countries like India and China have opened new doors for the future of artificial intelligence. In fact, China is already investing significantly in artificial intelligence for manufacturing and e-commerce. Though workers in the manufacturing sector are already lamenting the loss of jobs due to automation and machinery that work on AI technology, companies are now looking at ways to retain these workers. The workers are now being planned to be put to perform higher-level design, programming, or maintenance tasks. However, the real driver will be to develop applications for AI in manufacturing that not only automates tasks but also makes entirely new business processes feasible.

Enhancing the Manufacturing Supply Chain

The future of artificial intelligence in the manufacturing sector will be largely focused on making robots and machinery more capable and easier to use. AI will soon play a big role in the supply chain of manufacturing companies. The supply chain will increasingly make use of algorithms that can perceive patterns of demand for products over a particular period of time, geographic markets, and socioeconomic segments while accounting for macroeconomic cycles, political developments, and even weather patterns. This can help companies in the manufacturing sector to predict the market demand correctly and drive staffing requirements, raw material sourcing, inventory management, financing decisions, maintenance of equipment, and energy consumption.

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Predictive Maintenance of Machinery

In the manufacturing sector, AI will also have a major role to play in the predictive maintenance of machinery or equipment. Artificial intelligence will use sensors to track the performance of equipment in the factory. This will easily help predict and identify cases of breakdown and malfunction and can also help take or recommend preventive actions.

Ensuring Workplace Safety

The factories in the manufacturing sector are prone to accidents and mishaps that can cause threats to life and property. Many of these mishaps incidents might be very difficult for humans to predict or be prepared for. The future of artificial intelligence in manufacturing promises to overcome such hurdles. Replacing human labor with artificial intelligence in the manufacturing sector means lesser human effort is required to carry out dangerous and overly laborious work. As robots replace humans and perform normal and risky activities, the number of workplace accidents will decrease considerably.

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