How AI Is Transforming Manufacturing

“The future of work.” It’s a common phrase thrown around in casual conversation or social media. It causes a lot of buzz because it affects all of us who have jobs. But, admittedly, a lot of us may not truly understand what it means. Various images come to mind when we try to imagine what the future of work would look like.

To help with that, it’s good to imagine how the advancement of technology is transforming certain industries. Artificial intelligence (AI), in particular, is making changes in the manufacturing industry. It’s transforming the operations of factories. It’s also increasing efficiency, and decreasing the exhaustion from manual labor.

Machinery Maintenance

Capgemini Research Institute, a leading consulting firm in technology, conducted a survey on the subject. They found that 29 percent of AI technology in manufacturing is used in the maintenance of machinery. This means that in a factory of, say, bottled water, AI technology will be able to make sure that a small liquid filling machine would always be in top shape.

General Motors is an example of a major corporation that uses AI technology for maintenance in their factories. They installed cameras on assembly robots. These cameras are tasked to detect any defects in the machines around the factories. In one of the pilot tests of this system, the cameras were able to flag 72 defects on seven thousand robots. Because of their detections, the workers in the factory were able to solve the issues right away. Thus, they were able to avoid any unplanned outages should the defects worsened.

Quality Assurance of Products

Capgemini Research Institute also found that 27 percent of AI technology used for manufacturing is dedicated to the products. It conducts quality assurance of the products that were being created in factories. Quality assurance is a crucial step in manufacturing. It’s where the trust of the customers hinges on. If the products being made are defective, they would lose their market’s interest and their revenue.

For example, a top manufacturer of medical equipment in Puerto Rico is using AI technology to inspect the products. They’re making sure that the products are of good quality before they’re released to the distributors and retailers. The factory relies on machine-learning software to detect even the smallest discrepancies. This is important because they’re in the business of healthcare. One small issue in the machine could cost someone’s life.

executiving on the production floor wearing hard hat

Generative Design

Through AI technology, generative design helps engineers design products. The engineers would input their visions for the design of a product into generative design algorithms. These algorithms are recognized by AI technology and they’ll be able to bring the designs to life. Through machine-learning techniques, the generative design software shows other design alternatives. These alternatives take into consideration the materials, size, and weight. These are the details that the engineer sets.

Under Armour is an example of a company that uses generative design. With it, they created the Architech. It’s their first type of sneakers that use a 3D-printed lattice for the midsole. The company partnered with Autodesk to develop the sneakers through Autodesk’s Within software. This software is used for generative design. The designers at the company were able to create very specialized shoes that would accommodate the diverse needs of their market.

Some people might argue that AI technology is replacing human labor. And it has the potential to put a lot of hardworking people out of a job. But there are some experts who counter that by saying that AI actually has the potential to empower existing jobs. Because of the changing technology, factories need more engineers, designers, and trainers. These workers will be trained to understand and use AI technology. By advancing the technology used in manufacturing, AI can actually help workers with their work. This would make their jobs a little bit easier to manage.

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