Artificial Intelligence Trends in Manufacturing

August 04, 2020 / By Beau Peters

Artificial intelligence (AI) is having a heyday across industries. In manufacturing, the implementation of AI processes is trending, changing the way the industry functions and flows.

In every aspect of manufacturing — from product design to shipping and fleet management — AI is both useful and revolutionary.

Here, we will discuss five trends of AI usage in manufacturing and how these trends are being applied to better manufacturing processes for businesses.

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1. Product Design
AI is changing and improving the way we design and build products all the time. With the ability of smart tools to help engineers visualize and test a product, we can maximize the effectiveness of materials and components in order to cut costs and improve quality.

  • AR and VR
    One manufacturing tech trend of the new decade is the use of AI in augmented and virtual reality in order to visualize and test product design. This innovation allows engineers to step into a virtual world with their blueprinted prototype fully realized. They can then run tests using AI tools to watch their design in action and anticipate problems that normally might have only been found after a costly build.
  • 3D-Printing
    Additionally, AI-powered manufacturing techniques like 3D-printing allow for efficient designs never before possible. With the ability of 3D-printing to layer and build durable components at less cost and in a more timely fashion than traditional manufacturing methods, companies can save time, cut costs, and improve designs.

    3D-printed models also allow manufacturers to test and alter a product before it begins the mass manufacturing stage, again saving money in potential costs associated with scrapped designs and altered prototypes.

2. Quality Control
AI algorithms in quality control are giving rise to a new future of perfection in manufacturing. With analytical sensor and monitoring software alongside predictive maintenance technology, manufacturers can ensure consistent quality of products while maintaining their machines long before issues arise.

Quality control is just one of the many pros AI offers the manufacturing industry and represents a future of perfection we could never have achieved in the past.

  • Monitoring Software
    Through the use of advanced algorithms and artificial neural networks, the ability of AI to observe and react to deviations in quality — whether it be recipe, design, material, or something else entirely — can alert manufacturers to issues before much of the product is ruined.

    These neural networks use machine learning techniques — programming a computer conducts through its own understanding of a system — to understand quality and expectations. The implementation of these systems in quality control is already contributing to a reduction in waste and an improvement in product safety.
  • Predictive Maintenance Tech
    Along with the benefits in overall quality provided by AI tools and artificial neural networks, these systems provide the ability to predict and alert manufacturers to needed maintenance of systems. Predictive maintenance tools analyze systems to detect when the threat of malfunction is imminent, giving manufacturers the ability to make repairs and adjustments to machines and systems before costly damages.

3. Robotics and IoT
The advancements of data-gathering and analytical tools are changing the world of products and manufacturing to its core. Many of these emerging products integrate AI into their systems while manufacturing machinery is also being uploaded to the Internet of Things (IoT).

  • Robotics
    Robotics requires AI to complete the various manufacturing tasks required of them. These systems also reduce the amount of menial labor and add time and flexibility to the lives of factory workers and managers. This allows for greater room for quality control and monitoring.

    The future of manufacturing will likely be more directed towards the supervision of robots in manufacturing processes, adjusting systems, and searching for problems.
  • IoT
    The ability of machines and devices to be connected on a cloud network gives manufacturers a high level of awareness and control over processes. Now, the IoT links interconnected sensors, allowing for real-time management of inventory, processes, quality, and more.

4. Goods Transportation
The role of AI in manufacturing does not end at the factory. In fact, fleet management and shipping controllers are using this tech to predict and navigate routes to reduce time and expenses in shipping.

The future may be fully autonomous vehicles, but for now, helpful AI systems are maximizing the efficiency of goods transportation.

  • Fleet Management
    Currently, many businesses use AI metrics and analytics to improve the functioning of their shipping fleet. From reducing driver downtimes to cutting fuel costs, the data collected and collated by AI tools in fleet management allow for better business processes and reduced prices for consumers. In short, it's a win for everyone.
  • Autonomous Vehicles
    You may have seen the headlines regarding the emerging use of autonomous vehicles. Companies like Tesla and Uber are looking into these products, sure they will change the future of transportation for people and goods alike. This is very likely the case and could mean highly reduced costs for manufacturers in the future.

5. Administration and Management
In every process of manufacturing, the future is AI. These tools lend themselves to operational efficiency and administrative control that will maximize manufacturing management efficiency.

  • Operational Efficiency
    With AR integration like that used in BP’s drilling tech, AI coordinates with human labor to correct and improve all operational processes. This leads to increased production values and quality beyond the realms of anything previously possible. Now, laborers and managers alike can have the oversight of monitoring equipment designed for manufacturing success.
  • Administration
    Finally, manufacturing management is easier with the integration of AI tools for improved communication.

    With AI tech like chatbots, you can better manage your lead flow process, complete HR tasks, complete product recall assistance, better your workplace, and more. This communicative software allows for instant responses and management of tasks that a typical workplace may not allow much time for. Your overhead in managing communication will be reduced while the problems of miscommunications are smoothed.
AI can help in so many functions of manufacturing that it is no wonder this technology is trending across the industry. From the product design stage all the way to basic managerial tasks, AI is here to improve product construction, transportation, and more.

If you are a manufacturer who has yet to integrate this tech into your business processes, now may be the time to do so.

This is a guest post. We welcome guest posts about helping manufacturers increase sales and/or advance their marketing function. Email in your idea and you too could be a guest blogger on MMG.

Guest blogger - Beau Peters is professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he has learned a slew of tricks in the business world and enjoys sharing them with others who carry the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.

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