Why AI in Manufacturing is the New Norm

Although manufacturing facilities have been using different forms of AI for years through sensor instruments and robotic integrations, COVID-19 has accelerated the reliance on artificial intelligence amongst manufacturers.

Globally, Google finds that 64% of manufacturers are relying on AI in their day-to-day operations and that number is continuing to grow. Besides actual implementation, it’s clear that interest in AI is growing due to the fact that searches for AI analytics have increased by 1,875% since 2013.

If you’ve made such a search before, or if you’re curious about the role of AI in manufacturing, then read on to see how AI can help you.

How AI is Used Every Day

While AI is a new and popular point of discussion, it has been used in manufacturing and even in your house for years. Proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controllers, for example, are just one way that AI technology is used every day.

These control loops utilize feedback to make automatic and accurate corrections to a function. A common example of a PID controller would be the thermostat in a building. The thermostat is a computer that manages proportional, integral, and derivative information to make decisions and ensure the temperature of your room stays as directed. Like other PID controllers, the thermostat is designed to interpret environmental factors.

However, more sophisticated PID control loops could analyze these environmental factors as well as past errors and potential changes, consequently fine-tuning an instrument to produce the optimal control function automatically. The obvious benefits of this automatic optimization include increased efficiency and improved accuracy.

Another benefit that comes from AI is improved reporting. At any time, members of your organization have access to several different types of data and historical trends created by AI, which can be used by several stakeholders within an organization to make informed decisions.

The Industrial Internet of Things

This kind of fine-tuning toward an optimal control is present in the functioning of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Manufacturing facilities use the IIoT to create a network of connected devices which can collect and analyse data. By collecting data from a variety of sources, AIs make more informed decisions about the information they receive, and create better analyses and decisions moving forward. With IIoT, an organization is always able to improve efficiency by identifying and streamlining various processes.

The IIoT also helps to optimize machine performance, plan maintenance, and reduce downtime by analyzing data, making recommendations, and anticipating errors.

By taking advantage of sensor technology, all sorts of variables can be monitored and assessed to ensure that machinery is operating at an optimal level. Real-time monitoring of these variables is what makes the anticipation of potential errors and predictive maintenance possible.

The Value of Predictive Maintenance

Although predictive maintenance is just one component of the IIoT, it stands on its own as a major advantage of AI implementation. Predictive maintenance is made possible when AI is used to interpret sensor data, detecting failure patterns in a machine by examining its current performance and historical data.

The sensors used in this process aren’t only found on new machines; these instruments can also be retrofitted into older legacy models to provide modern cutting-edge results. Recent advancements have even allowed manufacturers to use unstructured data from tools like Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, and other documents to help sensors and predictive engines make appropriate analyses.

Analysis of sensor data is crucial to understanding when and where problems may occur. By understanding where these troubles can arise, preventative actions and maintenance can be scheduled and completed effectively to ensure your machines and systems are working at their best.

Staying ahead of your machines with the IIoT means that you can anticipate issues and solve them before they surprise you, become financially burdensome, or contribute to operational inefficiency.

The Role of Robots in Manufacturing

The impact of AI in the manufacturing industry is also evident in the operations of robotics. Robotics have been implemented for years to make human jobs easier in many different industries by lifting heavy parts and equipment, or working in potentially dangerous conditions. Many facilities now also take advantage of ‘cobots’ or collaborative robots which are designed to work with humans to increase the quality and efficiency of production.

There are many kinds of cobots which can help with processes such as packaging, painting, welding, and more. The use of robotics for paint application is typical in automobile production for precise and efficient coating practices. Robotics like this are ideal for industries currently experiencing staff shortages since different tasks can be offloaded to robots, cobots, and AI.

The Future of AI in Manufacturing

As the implementation of robotics and AI grows, it’s important to imagine what the future of AI in manufacturing could look like. Each day, the potential for AI is constantly growing as opportunities for applications continue to arise and more data is analyzed. The manufacturing industry is no stranger to innovation, and potential for growth is just another way we can work better.

Although AI can help offset some of the strain caused by staff shortages, it’s important to note that AI is a complementary tool and asset, not a replacement for skilled employees. In fact, according to research done by Google Cloud, 38% of manufacturers choose to use AI in their day to day to help their employees increase operational efficiency, and 34% find it to be overall helpful for their employees. When used alongside a strong team, AI can help your facility work efficiently and more effectively in areas such as inventory management, risk management, operations, and more.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of AI in manufacturing or implementing AI in your facility, contact us. Our expert team has been integrating AI across systems in various ways for years and we’re happy to guide you through the process.

For over 20 years, CSI has provided expert engineering services as a Control Systems Integrator in both Canada and the United States. Our automation and electrical system designs reach throughout industries and across the world. With experienced and knowledgeable engineers and skilled workers, we are a key component in our customers’ automated control solutions.

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