Recently, the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere and it’s no different for the manufacturing industry. Humans have come a long way through continual development and inspired engineering within manufacturing, with it generating £6.7tn to our global economy.
What does AI mean for the industry?
When we first think of AI, it puts us in mind of robots or robotic structures. This is no surprise, as the influence of robots within sci-fi and futuristic movies & TV has been vast. From 1984’s The Terminator, 87’s Robocop, Star-Wars, Short Circuit and modern titles such as iRobot or Transformers. Hollywood has shaped our view of AI in interesting ways, exploring the uprising of intelligent technology vs organic life, emotion, consciousness and even the philosophical question of “what does it mean to be human?”
I believe we will remain in charge of the technology for a decently long time and the potential of it to solve many of the world problems will be realised”, said Rollo Carpenter, creator of Cleverbot.
Although robotics is fast improving, in an industrial setting, the idea and development of AI is very different to the red-eyed humanoid terminator. For the manufacturing industry, AI can mean any number of things, including sensor technology, analytical and data processing and automation.
Manufacturing has continued to see a rise in the new technology being used as it’s an incredibly effective way of bringing maximum efficiency. An example of this would be automated decision making, where software can automatically order production of new units for certain components that are running low on a manufacturing line.
Hesitance and difficulties with technology
Of course, with new technology come new risks, particularly of malfunctions or breaches in software. In a report by InfoSys, 57% of manufactures are primarily investing into security systems to ensure safety in their AI use. Manufacturers were also asked what improvements could be made to current AI and automated systems in order for it to be the most effective for their organisation. 48% answered cost reduction, whereas 44% agreed that lower implementation time, proof of ROI and transparency in exactly how the technology works would be the top priority.
By far the greatest danger of Artificial Intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it.” ― Eliezer Yudkowsky
40% questioned also answered that ease of use was still an issue, even on systems used between 1 and 5 years. There is understandable hesitance into this newly, ever-changing landscape too. With 38% agreeing that the future of manufacturing growth is dependent on AI adoption, compared with only 26% who strongly agree and 20% who neither agree nor disagree. You can read the full report here: AI: Bringing Smarter Automation To The Factory Floor by Infosys.
Man is to technology what the bee is to the flower. It’s man’s intervention that allows technology to expand and evolve itself and in return, technology offers man convenience, wealth and the lessening burden of physical labour via its automated systems.” ― James Scott, (Co-founder of the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology)
Within the next 10-20 years, industries within manufacturing, processing, and testing will experience a huge shift as further developments are made. With technological advances happening at such a fast pace, it has been described as the “second industrial revolution”, this creates a huge pressure on companies to adapt or die. Manufacturing, however, doesn’t need to take this leap alone, as the majority of industries throughout the UK will require alteration too – a big responsibility, for a sector that employs 2.7 million people. The uses, capabilities, improvements, and risks of artificial intelligence are currently heavily debated among experts.