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AI and the Next Wave of Manufacturing Tech

POSTED 05/25/2021

Manufacturing success has always been built around finding the better mousetrap — making something more effective, creating a simpler solution, and reducing the human workload. For an industry once so reliant on simple machines like levers, wedges, and screws and proven processes like Ford’s assembly line, a 21st century manufacturer would do well to capitalize on technology that can “think,” “learn,” and “grow” to anticipate a problem and adapt viable solutions faster than its human counterpart.

Artificial intelligence is that technology and it can be a deciding factor for how quickly your business can jump the competition. By incorporating computer systems into the existing manufacturing process, your machines can perform tasks previously requiring human skills and knowledge. Whether it’s visualizing a task from point A to point B, making a decision based on prior experiences, or interpreting data to do something more efficiently, artificial intelligence (or AI as we’ll refer to it) trains your facility to learn, self-correct, and improve — all while removing human error and maximizing human talent.

Here are some benefits of AI.

Make Error-Free Manufacturing a Possibility

“I’m only human” is a common expression to wave away errors and mistakes — human talent makes mistakes and any business must accept some amount of error in their cost-benefit analysis of any project. But, what if you could bypass the human error? What if you could build a business around the belief that you don’t have to accept a mistake as inevitable? That is one of AI’s greatest benefits.

A properly programmed computer doesn’t make common mistakes and once it does, new programming or machine learning capabilities can reduce the likelihood of future mistakes to a degree a human workforce cannot match. By programming your machines to analyze data and “learn” from experience, you can reduce error and achieve greater precision — eliminating so many of the anticipated costs of manufacturing.

Reduce Health Risks and Safety Concerns

Just as human error can be reduced through machine learning, machines and technology can also reduce risks to human health and safety common in an industry like manufacturing. Machines can do both what human workers cannot do and what human workers maybe should not do. Companies that deal with extreme temperatures, dangerous pressures, and heightened risks can transition from an irreplaceable human life to a machine that can do the work — often with greater efficiency — without the risk.

Eliminate the 40-Hour Work Week

For as long as there has been work, there has been the need for rest. At some point, even the best worker will see a slump in productivity and the ability to rest and recharge is essential to maintain high production. While most American manufacturers have settled on a work week ranging from 35-60 hours, this is an area of unquestioned advantage for machines — except for general maintenance, a machine can run non-stop 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. AI allows for your facility floor to run just as strong three months and 3,000 hours into production as it did during hour one — no boredom, no breakdown, and with greater success thanks to continuous machine learning.

Utilize Human Talent as its Peak Effectiveness

Admittedly, there are many areas of manufacturing where there is still no substitute for human ingenuity. With talent at top demand, why not implement a strategy that places your human workforce in the places of greatest need and utilizes machines and AI technology for the more mundane and repetitive tasks? Automating certain tasks can reduce costs, while assigning top-level responsibilities to humans can help you achieve peak efficiency.

Through proper machine learning and AI technology, your business may also:

  • Develop tools to help predict the need for maintenance of your facility floor machines in real-time
  • Recognize patterns in your processes to better optimize your start-to-finish production and workforce allocation
  • Reduce costs along the supply chain through increased efficiency
  • Achieve greater inventory management with real-time monitoring of the supplies you have versus what you’ll need based on customer demand
  • Jump ahead of the competition by being the first to implement a hybrid workforce of man and machine while creating the jobs to attract the best and brightest human talent

With the market value of AI technology in manufacturing expected to increase by 40% annually through the next decade, there’s still plenty of room for your company. For more information on artificial intelligence technology in manufacturing and distribution, call your partners at Clayton & McKervey at 248.208.8660 or click here to start a conversation.

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For more information on AI for manufacturing & distribution, call us at 248.208.8660 or start a conversation today Interested in other emerging technologies that could move your manufacturing business forward? Check out our content on enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, robotic process automation (RPA), blockchain technology, and cybersecurity.