While automation was responsible for changing the 20th-century production line, AI technologies are taking manufacturing industry to the next level and into the era of Smart Manufacturing. When we talk about Smart Manufacturing, the conversation invariably moves to the use of IoT, robotics, sensors, machine-to-machine communication and the like. However, these elements in isolation and without intelligence do nothing to make manufacturing smarter. Robots, for example, can only do as much as they are programmed to do…Sensors can only generate a lot of data, and so on and so forth. What these systems need is an intelligent system that can process the volumes of data generated in the Smart Manufacturing network, and give factories optimized processes, increased capacity utilization and productivity, improved business decisions and the ability to innovate faster.
With the introduction of automation in manufacturing, factories of today are essentially a network of processes that consist of information and task flows. In order to become a smart manufacturing unit, all these processes need to run in a seamless manner without any interruptions. Jagannath Rao, Siemens’ senior vice president for Internet of Things (IoT) and go-to-market strategy says, “AI enables various aspects of the operation to…predict failures to prevent downtime; do optimal production scheduling based on orders in hand; and generate forecasts, inventory, and delivery times…AI also allows manufacturers to apply sophisticated robots for accuracy and quality and, finally, self-organize logistics for seamless deliveries.” AI is able to do so by injecting next-level automation into manufacturing processes including planning, predictive maintenance, and scheduling.
A smart factory is a networked factory system where data from design teams, quality control, production lines, and supply chains are linked together to derive deep and real-time insights. These actionable insights facilitate better decision-making by combining data collected from the connected network and applying AI to it.