The manufacturing sector is continuously evolving, fueled by massive digital business and transfiguration efforts. Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to change the role of human workforce into a physical workplace. The most dramatic impact that technology is bringing is efficiency and simplicity to manufacturing’s many complex processes. From conventional production line robotic equipment consisting of one-bet-task systems, automation has now evolved to power and manage multiple tasks simultaneously.
AI is the driving force behind the new era of mechanization where processes are modernized to make production decisions smarter.With robots attaining greater degree of sensitivity in their touch capabilities, they will be able to take over many assembling and movement dependent activities on the future manufacturing floor. Simultaneously, improvement in sensor vision technology is creating smarter, lighter and friendlier co-bots that are safe. Savvy manufacturers will use data to replace inventory and experience enormous improvements in efficiency and reduction in costs as robots take over most of the assembling, moving, packaging and other physical tasks. With the advancing adoption of AI, manufacturers can trust automation with the mundane tasks and use their energy to pursue new ways and ideas of thinking and making beyond the realm of machines.SMART MANUFACTURERS ARE AUTOMATING DATA AND PROCESSESManufacturing industry being aggressive users of robotics and mechanization, AI would be a logical step to improve productivity, production line, tooling utilization and simultaneously to minimize production cost per unit. To achieve this, manufacturers have been using AI systems for two years, with more than half (58%) using AI technology and 17 % actively using AI for over 4 years.
Overall, 29% of manufacturers surveyed have deployed some form of AI or as a part of their operations and decision-making process for data analytics, as well as to automate decision making and guidance for humans. 57% of manufacturers are focusing on investing into the security systems and 44% into data analytics due to this reason. IT (71%) and the operations (31%) departments are actively using AI, while HR (6%) and senior management (9%) are the least likely to use this technology. As per the study, the security department is the top user of AI for its day-to-day processesHOW AI WILL IMPACT THE FUTURE OF MANUFACTURING Savvy manufacturers are embracing robotics in greater volume to increase efficiency and rates on production, picking and packaging lines. AI and robotics will take over assembling and movement-dependent activities down the line, and reduce costs. Simultaneously, it will improve sensor and vision technology to create smarter, lighter and friendlier co-bots that are safe for humans.Along with these improvements in different spheres, AI in manufacturing will deliver more personalized and customized manufacturing which will capture the retail space.
56% will prioritize developing new products and services when AI technology develops, and with one of the top benefits of AI in manufacturing being efficiency in experience and produce, this is a positive step forward for the sector. The automation of manufacturing will support the notion of mass customization and on-demand production of products. However, AI brings challenges as well. 37% of manufacturers believe that training will be a significant issue while deploying AI.
They will have to ensure thorough training across departments, providing them with essential information. 32% of manufacturers admit to a lack of knowledge about where AI can assist in the industry.The rapid evolution and convergence of multiple disruptive technologies that are part of AI make this a continuous challenge. With several roles becoming the domain of smart machines, people skills must evolve to meet the mandate of the fluid, new, and somewhat unpredictable roles that machines cannot fulfil, such as deeply understand product personalization needs, finding new needs of consumers and even evangelizing adoption of new kinds of consumption. Ultimately this means embedding “learnability” in employees through a systematic process of lifelong learning. ETHICS AND AI ON THE FACTORY FLOORThe change that AI is going to bring in an organization is inevitable. For example, AI deployment needs support from employees who may have concerns about roles that were perceived as “skilled” being reclassified as “unskilled” by the arrival of AI.
This is true in any environment that relies skilled labor to make goods and deliver quality product. Employees may also have reservations about the need to retrain and employers expecting them to continuously learn and perform multiple roles. There may even be concerns about employee access to training courses and employers investing fairly and adequately in multi-skilling. With some jobs potentially evolving into new roles where people will oversee, manage, augment AI and automation systems, employees may also be worried about being judged on their AI and automation skills and education rather than their career experience.
Nonetheless, an AI-driven manufacturing sector positively impacting the industry will help deliver new employment opportunities through modernized technology. Any technology that is going to dramatically impact human aspects of business is going to be difficult to assimilate. Nonetheless it is a necessary transformation for future success of individual businesses and manufacturing itself. Therefore, considering the ethics of AI is important for any manufacturer looking to invest in a solution that will materially change the way staff work, the future of production or the way a customer views the organization.
CONCLUSIONThe adoption and use of AI represents an exciting innovative leap forward for the manufacturing sector. However initiating AI strategy in a sector that is reliant both on its people as well as on regimented machinery processes requires detailed planning and guidance in the form of professional services to ensure that the increased use of AI is successful. The manufacturing sector shares the view that long term role of AI in the sector is inevitable.
Considering employee training and advocacy along the long-term skill development will require efforts by both businesses and state educators, and while the positives of AI continue to outweigh the negatives, successful use of AI requires balance-greater automation but with equal emphasis on people engagement and skill development.