Since the industrial revolution, humans have been engaging with and improving machines in the workplace, and at home, to complete tasks more quickly and effectively. However, the distinct disadvantage of machinery, particularly in an industrial and manufacturing environment, machines and robots can’t work safely in close proximity to humans and have to be physically confined to better protect human workers.
That said, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on the rise – vast amounts of researchers are looking into how technology can be groomed and programmed into thinking, decision-making robots that ultimately will aid – or guide- human actions, decisions and development.
The future of Artificial Intelligence in manufacturing automation will come in the form of better sensory and prediction capabilities. In conjunction, AI is intended to create a lower-risk work environment for typically dangerous jobs globally.
A huge benefit of Artificial Intelligence in manufacturing automation would be the improved accuracy and reliability it could offer a multitude of organisations. Microscopically precise assembly is no longer a sci-fi film fantasy.
Artificial Intelligence could have great impacts on manufacturing automation, as well as branches and chains that have absolutely nothing to do with robotics. For example, algorithms in AI could pick up on patterns of supply and demand across time, place and socioeconomic factors. Combine this with an awareness of global issues such as political developments and AI can tailor production to suit these factors perfectly and minimise overruns.
In manufacturing automation, Artificial Intelligence will likely become an important part of predictive maintenance for equipment, calculating the performance of factory tools and learning to predict breakdown and disasters before they even happen!
Artificial Intelligence and its unparalleled predictability could be used in any number of industries, even in fashion. The AI could analyse images of recent fashion trends and correlate data from many sources to create the next popular clothing line… At the very least, it could predict which lines will perform better globally.
In terms of management decision support and planning, AI can more easily use demographics and better understand population centres to maximise growth in any given organisation. Further, Artificial Intelligence could make decisions much more complex than we could imagine, such as where a company should place itself in the world, based on every single variable that could affect that placement, from weather to government to power supply and much more.
Unfortunately, many Artificial Intelligence developments will cost people their jobs. Whether it is automated driving and delivery systems that leave tens of thousands of pizza delivery guys unemployed or a new predictive machine that discounts the need for any kind of analyst in any kind of business, the loss of jobs is almost synonymous with AI.
Automated manufacturing setups have already faced this adversity, and AI will likely only serve to improve automated systems in the manufacturing industry with its unbeatable prediction and planning capabilities. As much as this is a positive for industry investors, it must be stressed that care should be taken with Artificial Intelligence as it senses, learns, reasons and acts in the real with without explicit programming. As a society, we should consider the pros and cons of the various applications of Artificial Intelligence and whether it improves on our current methods, or undoes what millions fight for every day.