Four reasons why regional manufacturers must adopt AI
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Four reasons why regional manufacturers must adopt AI

Four reasons why regional manufacturers must adopt AI

Automation and AI is helping drive a manufacturing resurgence in many regions, according to Microsoft

While manufacturing has long deployed the use of machines and robots to increase efficiencies and improve the pace and quality of production, the integration of new artificial technology (AI) tools is anticipated to have a massive impact on the way the industry operates.

“Today manufacturing has a strong association with AI, especially the use of automation. But the automation that we have typically associated with manufacturing in years past was often production lines, heavy machinery and, more recently, industrial robots,” Caglayan Arkan, global lead – Manufacturing and Resources Industry Group at Microsoft, states in the The Future Computed – AI and Manufacturing research report.

“These robots were expensive and bulky machines that were mostly used in large factories and out of reach for many small and medium-sized manufacturers because of limited budgets or factory floor space.

“In recent years, however, thanks to advances in AI technology, these robots have become smaller and far cheaper and are leading a very different interaction and relationship between humans and technology on the factory floor,” he adds.

A new branch of robotics, developing what are called ‘collaborative robots’, are working alongside people and can be programmed to perform a wide variety of tasks, making them a far more attractive option for manufacturing companies of all sizes.

While there has been some criticism about such robots taking away human jobs, their benefits appear to outweigh the disadvantages.

“It’s hard to be certain about the impact of AI on manufacturing,” states Arkan.

“And while automation might displace some jobs and some roles, there are more jobs and opportunities being created as automation and AI helps drive a manufacturing resurgence in many regions.”

According to the report, manufacturers are already seizing the AI opportunity to reinvent themselves and ensure workplace safety and health, predictive maintenance, process efficiencies, intelligent supply chains, uptime, higher value, and higher-quality products.

“Central to digital transformation is cultural transformation. Strong leadership combined with engaging workers at all levels in the process is essential. In order to optimise AI’s value, the entire organisation must work together to embrace change, break down silos, and create a seamless information supply chain inside companies and leverage their full data estate,” the report states.

It also urges private and public sectors to prepare for the impact of AI on the workforce and build a supply chain of talent to help new workers coming into the workforce acquire the new skills they will need; develop workers who will have to transition to new jobs with the same employer; and support those whose roles will be eliminated and will need new jobs elsewhere in the economy.

Microsoft’s Cloud for Manufacturing is designed to deliver capabilities that support the core processes and requirements of the industry. These end-to-end manufacturing solutions include released and new capabilities that connect people, assets, workflow, and business processes.

For regional manufacturing companies, here are four advantages of implementing AI:

Digitally empower your workforce

Companies can reskill their workers and increase customer satisfaction with new digital experiences

Operate safe and agile factories

AI enables manufacturers to build productive and smart factories of the future with industrial IoT, cloud, AI and mixed reality.

Create more resilient supply chains

Regional manufacturers can improve end-to-end supply chain visibility, agility and profitability through intelligent planning and execution, demand sensing, and traceability.

Unlock innovation and new services

AI adoption will accelerate the engineering of new business value using digital feedback loops and digital twins.

Microsoft’s approach to help this digital transformation is to start with the business outcome that clients require, and then identify the necessary data insights and the models that will help realise that impact.

“We want customers to be agile and nimble by breaking down data silos within their organisations and creating a cognitive supply chain where AI can make 30 to 40 per cent of decisions, releasing time to do the things that humans do best,” it says.

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