The “Smart Manufacturing” revolution is already enabling manufacturers to reach the goal more successfully than ever — Artificial Intelligence is the core technology driving this new wave of innovation. From significant cuts in unplanned downtime to better designed products, manufacturers are applying AI-powered analytics to improve efficiency, product quality, cost effective and the safety of employees.
Data has become a highly valuable resource, and it’s cheaper than ever to capture and store. Today, more manufacturers than ever are leveraging that data to significantly improve their bottom line. Thanks to Artificial Intelligence — and particularly Machine Learning.
AI and Machine Learning are giving manufacturers an unprecedented ability to skyrocket throughput, optimize their supply chain, and accelerate research and development.
In 2020, we’ve seen the accelerated adoption of deep learning as a part of the Industry 4.0 revolution, in which digitization is remaking the manufacturing industry. This latest wave of initiatives is marked by the introduction of smart and autonomous systems, fueled by data and deep learning—a powerful breed of artificial intelligence (AI) that can improve quality inspection on the factory floor.
The benefit? By adding smart cameras to software on the production line, manufacturers are seeing improved quality inspection at high speeds and low costs that human inspectors can’t match. And given the mandated restrictions on human labor as a result of COVID-19, such as social distancing on the factory floor, these benefits are even more critical to keeping production lines running. While manufacturers have used machine vision for decades, deep learning-enabled quality control software represents a new frontier.
Ongoing maintenance of production line machinery and equipment represents a major expense in manufacturing, having a crucial impact on the bottom line of any asset-reliant production operation.
For this reason, predictive maintenance has become a must-have solution for manufacturers who have much to gain from being able to predict the next failure of a part, machine or system. Predictive maintenance uses advanced AI algorithms in the form of machine learning and artificial neural networks to formulate predictions regarding asset malfunction.
This allows for drastic reductions in costly unplanned downtime, as well as for extending the Remaining Useful Life (RUL) of production machines and equipment.
Robot in Manufacturing
The industrial revolution brought about great changes within the manufacturing industry. It introduced the idea of using machines to increase production while lowering costs. Today, the machines take the form of robots controlled by increasingly sophisticated forms of artificial intelligence.
Robots have changed manufacturing in a myriad of positive ways. The impact of automated manufacturing spreads far and wide, improving productivity and success for the entire company. When human employees are freed from tasks that robots can easily perform, they can extend more of their energy to contributing much-needed knowledge and ideas within higher organizational roles. When implemented correctly, robotics creates an undeniable upward shift within a business’s operations.
Making better products with generative design
Artificial intelligence is also changing the way we design products. One method is to enter a detailed brief defined by designers and engineers as input into an AI algorithm (in this case referred to as “generative design software”).
The brief can include data describing restrictions and various parameters such as material types, available production methods, budget limitations and time constraints. The algorithm explores every possible configuration, before homing in on a set of the best solutions.
The proposed solutions can then be tested using machine learning, offering additional insight as to which designs work best. The process can be repeated until an optimal design solution is reached.
The manufacturing sector is a perfect fit for the application of artificial intelligence. Even though the Industry 4.0 revolution is still in its early stages, we’re already witnessing significant benefits from AI. From the design process and production floor, to the supply chain and administration, AI is destined to change the way we manufacture products and process materials forever.