At some point AI will evolve from being an option to becoming a necessity and that point may be coming sooner than we think. PHOTO by Pexels.
In the rapidly evolving landscape of today’s metal manufacturing, artificial intelligence (AI) is the latest buzzword.
If the claims about AI’s power prove to be true, it offers significant potential to help metal manufacturers boost efficiency, improve product quality, and reduce costs. At some point it will evolve from being an option to becoming a necessity and that point may be coming sooner than we think. Just like automation, many job shops know they need to get started on the path to AI adoption. The question is what’s the best way to do so?
Here are three key steps to getting started.
ASSESS THE PROBLEM YOU NEED TO SOLVE: Don’t jump into AI just for the sake of doing so. Focus instead on a particular problem in your operation such as a production bottleneck and its impact on your business. Are you collecting sufficient data about that process to leverage AI’s capabilities to sort through data faster than humans can to enhance the process? However, even if AI can be used to solve a problem, doesn’t mean you should make the investment. You must also consider the financial impact of the problem you’re using AI to solve. If, for example, using AI can reduce the number of defects in a line by 50% yet the defect rate was only 1% to begin with, do the savings from moving to a 0.5% defect rate warrant the cost of investing in AI?
COLLECT AND PREPARE THE DATA: Identify all the data sources within your operation that will be used to drive AI, such as sensors, machines, historical records, maintenance manuals, external data sources from suppliers etc., and make sure it’s accurate, complete, well-organized and secured. As John Murdoch of Canvass AI told manufacturers at the CMTS AI-Driven Savings session, there is a lot of work that goes into getting the data ready and that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
GET STAFF TRAINED AND ONBOARD: The AI-knowledge level of your people and the general objection to change must be taken seriously. Employees need to be informed, engaged, and prepared for the changes that AI may bring as well as how AI will augment their work.
It’s only once you’ve solidified these three areas that you should approach the final piece of the puzzle: selecting the AI technology that best aligns with your data resources, goals, and budget.