What Is AI and How Are Manufacturers Using It?


Questions about ERP Technologies

What is AI?

AI or Artificial Intelligence is based on machine learning. It’s often in the same conversation as IoT or IIoT, since the Internet of Things is a broader topic which encompasses AI. Most modern equipment used in manufacturing creates data which can be shared in the cloud, integrated with other applications and used to improve overall efficiency. However, without specific planning and applications capable of using this information, the data often goes unused. AI and machine learning refer to the ability of equipment to make corrections or provide recommendations based on the continuous ingestion of data, through iterations and refinement - essentially “learning” or getting “smarter” the longer it runs.

AI can be used to improve OEE

One common application of AI in manufacturing is to increase the OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency). The machine reports the running time and running conditions to an application which integrates with other known facts about the job, equipment, shift and employee typically found in the ERP. The software application looks for patterns and reports areas of concern. In some cases, the AI system may even make the corrections on its own. For example, if a CNC machine tool is getting worn, an AI system can look at the facts and tell the CNC machine to switch to a new tool at the best time for maximum tool use and before the part falls out of spec.

AI is a differentiator in 2021 but will be a standard by 2027.

Using AI helps manufacturers find inefficiencies, reduce operation costs and improve customer satisfaction. However, in 2021, small to mid-size manufacturers are just beginning to understand how AI can solve real-world problems. The COVID pandemic caused business processes across manufacturing industries to be severely disrupted in 2020. Manufacturers are more motivated to invest in AI for remote capabilities in operations, industrial robots, process automation, predictive maintenance and autonomous material movement. AI in the manufacturing market is estimated to grow at a CAGR rate of over 41% from 2020 to 2027 due to this confluence of rapidly progressing technology and the imminent need to decrease worker density.

Questions about ERP Technologies

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