Manufacturing AI- A new generation of point artificial intelligence solutions will prove themselves in the near future. They’ll build new trust, urgency and understanding of what ‘AI’ actually is and just how much it can deliver. Voice-driven solutions will lead the charge. And we’ll see pick-and-place robots in smart warehouses delivering a major competitive edge, as companies advance their use of Robotic Process Automation.
Here are my three key predictions for AI in manufacturing.
Prediction #1: 50% of all manufacturing companies will be using AI in some form by the end of 2021.
For many businesses, targeted AI solutions are already here. According to an IFS survey of 750 manufacturing companies across 16 countries, 81% of manufacturers have already embraced some type of transformational technology to digitize business processes. AI realism will spread in the coming years because of its ability to interpret the massive amounts of data that IoT devices provide, allowing more accurate forecasting to take place and better predictive maintenance routines.
A big stumbling block for AI has always been the term ‘AI’ itself. It misleads many manufacturers, suggesting a large end-to-end system. AI is already used to support enterprise-wide business decisions in what-if planning scenarios. In reality, ‘AI’ is more often a collection of targeted technologies, from natural language processing to vision identification to chatbots to analytics to automation – each with its own strengths and applications. What they all share is the intelligence factor: a high degree of accuracy and an incredibly fast ability to learn from their mistakes.
When thinking of AI, it’s important to remember that you can’t “implement AI” any more than you can “implement the internet.” Before you initiate any project, you must figure out your
“why.” What exact business goal or target are you aiming for? What exactly do you want to improve or enhance? The more targeted your objectives are, the more competitive and transformative your results will be.
Prediction #2: 25% of manufacturing planners will be talking to their systems by the end of 2020.
This percentage was based on two factors: the rate of adoption of digital transformation in general within business and the advantages that robots give (no lunch breaks, lights-out manufacturing, etc.).
AI solutions are smarter and more eloquent than most of us realize. A year ago, a major AI customer survey found that two-thirds of people who said they had never used AI actually had, through chatbots. The quality was so high that the chatbots had been indistinguishable from human speech. The same survey found 84% of respondents were comfortable using voice-activated AI at home, in the form of Alexa, Siri or Home. And if simplicity, speed and accuracy are crucial consumer benefits, imagine what they could do on a manufacturing line.
BMW’s smart integration of Alexa into its models in March 2018 was widely applauded. And rightly so. The integrated voice activation went beyond skin-deep, adding layers of service and performance capability to the driving experience. What’s less well-known is that voice-activated solutions are also already being used on the production side of the automotive sector.