Artificial Intelligence, or machine learning, is one of the most profound inventions that mankind has ever made. Machines that can learn, with millions of digital neurons communicating at the speed of light; code writers have been using machine learning for at least a decade. A supercomputer called AlphaGo beat the Go world champion in 2016 and that signalled we were ready to create next-dimension computers that have the power to think and analyse, and most importantly, learn from the data.
AI is designed to consume data. Feed it 100k chest X-Ray images and AI trains itself. There are systems in some hospitals today that can outperform the best doctors, in terms of accurately diagnosing chest X-Rays. The icing on the cake is that AI gets better at whatever it is given to do. In some manufacturing plants, AI could red flag a hydraulic power unit supply component before it actually fails, enabling the team to keep the system online.
AI is creating system designs
AI can consume terabytes of data, and then design a system that no human ever could! A mega factory would probably have AI managing all the systems simultaneously, yet it is in design that we are seeing incredible things. Technicians fitted 20,000 sensors on a Porsche 911 Turbo and sent it around tracks at record speeds; the data was used to design the perfect racing chassis and the results were breath-taking.
When AI is charged with managing an automated production line; it not only keeps things running smoothly, it is also looking for ways to save time, cut costs or increase output. There are no ceilings to limit what we can achieve with AI, although there does need to be some form of regulation in the industry; AI could easily be used for nefarious means.
Semi-automation leads to full AI control
A small factory that has recently gone semi-automated would at some point wish to upgrade to 100% automation and use AI to manage things. AI can plan the transition, design the system and even evaluate contractors; the fastest growing tech sector is AI system design & management – the future is looking bright for the manufacturing sector.
QC can be managed by AI, hi-res cameras move around on robotic arms, checking the product from every angle; if a flaw is spotted, the camera automatically zooms in and focuses, looking for confirmation. We have finally reached the point where we can take the human out of the QC loop, leaving it to a supercomputer.