Not only has artificial intelligence found its way into the modern office, but it also has its place at the heart of the smart factory. If AI allows humans to avoid administrative tasks, it also offers manufacturers new gains in productivity. Here are the key ways in which AI can be integrated in industrial production.
RPA (Robotic Process Automation)
Robotic Process Automation is a technology that involves automating a business process through software. And since it is capable of communicating with all your software applications, in particular your ERP and production systems, it can centralize the data from different information systems and automate the creation of purchase orders or trigger preventive maintenance operations on factory equipment. Of course, the technology does need to be tested, automatable tasks identified, and priorities defined on a roadmap before workshops can be robotized.
Contrary to popular belief, the chatbot isn’t only useful in e-commerce; it also has its place in the Factory 4.0. For example, there are voice or text assistant applications intended for service technicians and assembly line operators. Integrating chatbots into your factory lets you offer assistance to your employees while significantly increasing productivity.
For example, to use increasingly complex machines on the assembly line, operators can quickly access voice or text information. Thanks to audio guidance and the visualization of operations to be performed, chatbots also offer valuable assistance for specific tasks, such as assembling a complex part, or a dealing with a breakdown. They can also collect and qualify data about a machine—information that the service technician will consult before taking action.
Many smart factories now rely on AI for inspection and visual recognition. For instance, artificial intelligence now lets you automate waste sorting. The ever-increasing maturity of these solutions also offers the possibility of automating highly complex quality control procedures. Production facilities in the automotive sector, foundries or consumer goods field are therefore using more and more solutions that combine deep learning and industrial vision to inspect plastic, painted, or metallic parts.
Analyzing All the Data and Using Predictive Models
Breakdowns and production shutdowns can result in massive costs for a factory. Thanks to AI, these malfunctions can be avoided. In fact, there are artificial intelligence programs that collect information from sensors, monitor anomalies, and use predictive models to prompt the initiation of an intervention. This more proactive approach to the maintenance strategy—known as predictive maintenance—offers the advantage of detecting more defects than humans and the ability to remotely monitor equipment located on sites spread all over the planet, but also underwater.
The data collected by artificial intelligence software also makes it possible to automate the inventory management of products and spare parts.
Today, artificial intelligence is in every corner of the smart factory. In particular, it can be found in RPA, chatbots, or inspection, visual recognition, and data analysis processes. And it’s a safe bet that it will be even more present tomorrow, when the factories of the future integrate new, cutting-edge technologies that are not yet mature at present.