What is Artificial Intelligence? A question you may have come across several times but also may already have the answer to. Though you may not have the concise meaning of ‘AI’, it is somewhat closer to what you have been hearing about artificial intelligence.
What We Understand About Artificial Intelligence
Back in the ‘50s, AI was defined as any task performed by a machine or program that, if a human carried out the same task, we would have to say the human had to apply intelligence to fulfill the activity. In technical terms, AI is an amalgamation of technologies and concepts that mean different to each one of us and its application is everywhere we look. It is a process of using any technique which allows computers and machines to impersonate human behavior.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a computer system that can perform tasks that generally require human understanding and intelligence. These AI systems are backed by machine learning. Some of them are fueled by deep learning and some by rules. Everything around us is progressing rapidly. Look around, everything from self-driving automobile to SIRI to Alexa and cab-hailing services require artificial intelligence.
When Should Manufacturers Consider AI?
Like many industries, Manufacturing is a sector that is rapidly changing. As per the World Economic Forum, the global manufacturing sector could be a game-changer and one of the few sectors to be most affected by the latest technological advancements like Artificial Intelligence (AI). For determined procedures, what was once considered industry-standard 20 years ago is now obsolete and in another few years, these procedures may well be different again. Therefore, in the ever-evolving industry such as manufacturing, companies must stay up-to-date with the latest trends and methods if they want to thrive.
If you own a small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) and are looking to apply AI soon, but are hesitant and truly wonder whether AI and machine learning technology are only for companies with billion-dollar budgets. Well, you’re not alone, there are several manufacturers out there with a similar mindset and asking the same question. AI isn’t only for big organizations. In fact, if applied effectively, artificial intelligence can alter the MSME enabling business owners and entrepreneurs and help create a huge ripple across a wide range of business functions including, customer service, product development, marketing and sales to name a few.
As per a survey on AI conducted by Forbes, 44% of respondents from automotive and manufacturing sector consider artificial intelligence as highly crucial to the manufacturing function in the next five years, while 49% deemed as critical to success.
Why Should You Use Artificial Intelligence? And, What Are the Benefits of AI?
The manufacturing Industry is said to have the biggest impact of automation coupled with AI. The AI plays a vital role in improving enterprise software- right from the optimization of industrial facilities and machines, predictive maintenance, improving material management and transcribing the data that flows across departments among others. Forrester, a global research firm, claims that over 58% of business and technology experts are researching and understanding artificial intelligence systems, but only 12% are using them.
Ever since the Industrial Revolution, the manufacturing industry has concentrated on reducing cost by creating a safer workplace environment, enhancing customer service and increasing operational efficiency to name a few. The industry has matured its practices for decades, however, the success of these have heavily relied on humans and their experience at different levels of an organization. Artificial Intelligence seems to be the answer and promises to redefine the manufacturing industry.
While AI has made its way into the digital world with major companies such as Microsoft, Intel, Bosch and Siemens backing the same, Artificial Intelligence is now carving its path into the manufacturing sector. According to Andrew Ng, Creator, Deep-Learning Google Brain Project, AI is said to change many industries and the technology is very well suited for manufacturing. He also adds that artificial intelligence will perform quality control, manufacturing, curb materials waste, shorten design time, perform predictive maintenance and much more.
To understand the manufacturing economy, let us look at Montana’s manufacturing economy that has grown faster than any other state in the US, as per a report from Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, Montana State University. As per the report prepared by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, in 2018 Montana added 3500 manufacturing jobs from 2010 to 2017- an increase of 21% from 8%. The increase, owing to an increase in the number of businesses making structural metals, alcoholic beverages and electronic instruments, occurred despite the low-performing paper products and wood manufacturing.
How to Apply AI
Artificial Intelligence, when applied in the right way, can transform your manufacturing company by launching on a smaller scale and optimally utilizing the ready-made solutions available in the market. This way you can efficiently control the potential of AI and hence improve performance across various departments.
Here are few best approaches to employ AI:
The old adage that says one should start with a bang for a new rollout does not apply to the adoption of AI. With technology as advanced as artificial intelligence one must take baby-steps, trying and rushing into the process is a damaging approach. Investing stupendously and spearheading is not suggested for MSMEs. Manufacturers need to start slow and increase their AI endeavors gradually.
Take Advantage of Existing AI Platforms
As a manufacturer new to AI; it would be unwise to develop your own AI as it will not only be complex but also a time-consuming process that demands a great deal of investment. Fortunately, a few tech companies have open-sourced their AI platform enabling AI to reach more consumers. By taking advantage of existing AI platforms manufacturers can save a considerable amount of time and cost for design and development.
Know Your Company’s Needs
This is a basic and crucial requirement. Take a thorough look at your business to discover what strategic obstacles can be abolished using AI-derived solutions. Artificial intelligence solutions can offer predictive analytics for your manufacturing company. It can help you self-regulate tasks. Through examination, you can discover the right goal for your business.
Right People in the Right Culture
To overcome any technology barrier, you need the right set of people and the right culture to nurture and develop a robust ecosystem. Hiring the right people takes time. Building the right ecosystem takes time. During this crucial stage you will need to invest time and resources to retain skilled people to enhance your chances for early success and adoption. While you may find it expensive to invest in fresh, skilled talent and the latest technology, it will be worth every single penny. Consider bringing in strategic advisors to help with early planning and throughout the process as you encounter challenges.
What is the future of AI in the Manufacturing Industry?
According to a report by Accenture, artificial intelligence could boost the industry average profitability by 38% and lead to the economic growth of $14 trillion by 2035. AI can help in enhancing manufacturing output at reduced costs and improving the sustainability quotient of the production processes. As per the Global Market Insights 2019 Report, AI in manufacturing is expected to surpass $16 billion by 2025 from USD 1 billion in 2018. Artificial Intelligence in the manufacturing industry is here to stay.
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