The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) may sound like a science fiction film with overdramatic consequences of automation. But the reality is that AI, via machine learning, is making its way into many avenues of our lives, and manufacturing is no different.
Virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa are already in our homes, but how exactly is AI driving manufacturing sales?
AI technology to take your business to the next level:
- Quality Control with Visual Recognition — A big issue that affects many manufacturers is quality control and inspections. These are time-consuming tasks that can slow down production or even bring it to a halt if a problem is not found quickly. Many companies, including Nokia and Audi, are using AI to identify inconsistencies in the production line which can lead to quality control issues. The cameras used in these production lines use visual recognition software to look for and identify problems with the products so they can catch them early.
- Big Data and Statistical Analysis — AI has become a huge help with the field of data projections and statistical analysis. Artificial Intelligence can take fields of data and sift through it faster than the sales or marketing team member can make projections and forecasts about sales trends. In fact, AI has been found to lead to a double-digit reduction in lost sales and cut the workload of human staff by as much as half.
- Maintenance Prediction — AI can improve your bottom line by protecting your assets. If your manufacturing equipment goes down, you’re going to lose days (or even weeks and months) of downtime and that means no work coming in. This can spell the end for any business. AI is currently being used in factories (including those of General Motors) to analyze the components of a production line. It can detect when a part or component is ready to give out or break and recommend a replacement before that happens. Preventative maintenance is much easier to schedule than having to deal with a massive breakdown. In fact, a recent analysis showed that unplanned downtime costs manufacturers $50 billion annually in lost sales and the breakdown of machinery is a cause of almost half (42%) of this downtime. It’s clear to see that AI will keep your production line churning along steadily.
- Constraint-Optimizing Logic and Product Design — In a nutshell, this is what is used for a lot of Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) solutions. A product is created in a configurator so that it’s specifications can realistically be created by the manufacturer. A client can then customize the product to fit the dimensions they need. However, if the dimensions of the desired object exceed the parameters set by the constraint-optimizing logic, the product will be deemed unfeasible and won’t be made. But this same technology also allows the manufacturers to change the dimensions of their products until they find the optimal version to mass produce, thus saving themselves time and money.
- Proactive Streamlining of Business Functions — Artificial Intelligence is able to streamline a lot of different functions to make your company more productive. In one area, it’s being used to optimize supply chains. This ensures the items you need to make your products are readily available, you can ship your products with ease and keep them routinely in stock with distributors. This use of AI helps your business to be proactive instead of reactive in that you are anticipating and heading off problems before they occur rather than reacting to them in an emergency when they happen.
- Productivity and Worker Efficiency Optimization — Driving your manufacturing sales higher is the area of optimizing your biggest asset—your employees. These AI simulations can find the most optimal ways for your employees to work and the best workplace layout for efficient manufacturing. When it comes to the layout of your office space, AI can be used to optimize your warehouses to better utilize every square inch of space. If you can do this, you can ensure that nothing goes to waste and that you are getting the best out of your investments.
Technical Development Working to Constantly Improve Business
Artificial Intelligence is the technological development more businesses need to embrace if they wish to stay competitive in the coming decades. A recent analysis from Forbes Magazine found that 14% of companies were able to increase sales during economic downturns. For those that did this, the common thread was their use of AI. Technological innovation has always been at the core of manufacturing growth from the days of the original industrial revolution. Now, that innovation is expanding into the realm of AI.