What’s the most exciting Manufacturing Tech in 2021?

It feels like, each time we talk to a progressive Manufacturing “thought leader”, and ask that same question, we get the same answer – “AI”

Manufacturing is one of the sectors most influenced by the latest technological trends like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and IoT – and all part of the Industry 4.0 tech stack – with incredible potential for disruption and transformation if these technologies are deployed intelligently.

While AI has proven to be one of the most broadly disruptive technologies of the digital revolution, it best maximizes its potential when deployed in conjunction with two augmentative domains – robotics and IoT.

Robotics has become an essential part of many of the Shop Floors over the past few years and the dexterity, complexity, and sophistication of robotic tasks have been significantly enhanced via AI. Tasks that were previously relegated to the human domain due to complexity and labor constraints are now routinely completed by robots.

And for IoT, the ease of deployment and advanced capabilities of sensors allows for the globalization of AI in the manufacturing sector. Because sensors collect data continuously and can be placed nearly anywhere, manufacturers can expect to increase productivity, connectivity, and scalability as IoT becomes more engrained in the sector.

BUT we have always wanted to dive a little deeper to understand where exactly AI is being deployed for it to be constantly seen as the game-changer.

recover revenue

Predictive and Preventive Maintenance

AI has transformed the maintenance process from reactive to preventive through AI-enabled, data-driven, predictive capabilities.

Globally, it’s estimated a $647 billion is lost each year in industrial asset downtime per The International Society of Automation. The preventive maintenance process is driven by real-time information feeds connected to AI brains that are fed by data gathered from sensors embedded in machines and IoT-enabled devices. The industrial internet of things (IIOT), armed with sensors and in conjunction with AI is reducing downtime in three main ways:

  • Real-time alerts for wear, tear, faults, breakdowns, and even fatigue.
  • Lifespan prediction for machine assets which helps with CAPEX planning.
  • More informed asset maintenance schedule triggering and MRO schedule optimization which helps coordinate effort, cost, and quality across assets.

Real time alerts

Enhanced Robot Effectiveness

  • AI with more powerful software allows robots to perform a wider range of tasks that require more complexity.
  • AI facilitates better human-robot interaction allowing more effective utilization of robots. “Cobots” are emerging due to this increasingly AI-enabled capability.

Robots have gone mainstream in manufacturing facilities but in conjunction with AI, robotic task handling is enhanced.


Manufacturing Supply Chain

AI combined with IoT has tremendous potential to give manufacturers greater visibility into their supply chains with the potential to increase productivity and improve planning.

  • Real-time tracking of supply vehicles improves fleet utilization, logistics planning, and scheduling, which all contribute to improved production scheduling.
  • Inventory analysis powered by AI can help lower holding costs and improve procurement schedules.
  • Shipping and delivery lead time can be predicted and optimized by applying AI algorithms.

supply chain

Design Disruption

AI increasingly figures into more creative tasks like art and music creation. Related use cases in manufacturing are becoming more tangible every day.

  • AI-based generative design is already in use by large design houses in auto manufacturing. Aerospace manufacturers use AI to enable more creative machining and part designs limited by human designers and their limited ability to iterate.

Design Disruption

Digital Twin

Digital twins are computerized replicas of physical assets that in the manufacturing context can be useful for examining how an IoT device operates and behaves throughout its lifespan. Use cases of digital twins include:

  • Process simulation using AI to identify “what if” scenarios which help manufacturers realize implications of configuration, design, or process changes.
  • AI-wired exception management processes remove the onus from humans and allow these actions to be routed to and automated by a computer.
  • Design and manufacturing feasibility tests can be conducted and automated using digital twins.

Digital Twin

Batches of One

AI can help product managers monitor their customers more closely and tailor offerings to their exact specifications.

  • AI can help manufacturers design, test, and manufacture products with a high level of customization. With AI-driven MTO models, companies can swiftly adapt to changing customer needs.

Industry 4.0 is tech and is the future – do not fight it, you will lose!

AI, in conjunction with robotics and IoT technology, is one of the major disruptions in manufacturing with huge opportunities for those willing to embrace these trends intelligently.


Smarter Manufacturing: People, Teams & Business Solutions enabled through Change & Technology

Sometimes you need a real expert to help decide what is next and sometimes you need an entire team and sometimes you need an entire program delivering.

Delivering the entire Smart Manufacturing application layer, along with integration to ERP & PLM and moving your people to adopt new ways of working, is the holistic approach we take. It is the quality of our people and their experience that makes the difference.

If we can help you through your Smarter Manufacturing journey, you just must ask.