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14 cases of using AI in manufacturing

Connected factories, robots, and autonomous vehicles enable manufacturers to deliver better products with minimum human effort and reduced losses.

smart manufacturing
Image: Unique Training and Development

Manufacturing companies use AI-based solutions for many different purposes—from enhancing cybersecurity to improving order management. Read this article to understand how exactly manufacturers can benefit from AI.

AI enables manufacturers to reduce the workload of human staff and minimize the risk of errors caused by human factors. AI helps businesses to predict potential challenges, find solutions, reduce waste, optimize supply chains, and achieve many other goals.

In this article, we’ll list the most common cases of using AI in manufacturing. After reading this article, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on whether you would like to integrate AI-powered solutions in your workflows too.

Logistics

Manufacturing companies might suffer regular losses because of overstocking or under-stocking inventories. This is what AI can do for them:

  • Track the production floor operations
  • Deliver accurate demand forecasts
  • Minimize inventory-related losses
  • Optimize resource management

Plus, manufacturers can use 3D printers to produce the parts they need instead of ordering them from far away.

Robots

unitree robotic dog
Image: Unitree

Robots are indispensable for automating decision-making and repetitive tasks. Here are the primary benefits of using them:

  • Self-learning robots keep continuously improving
  • Unlike human professionals, they don’t need breaks
  • They enable manufacturers to scale their production capacity
  • Workplace safety improves

While humans focus on delicate tasks, robots are in charge of heavy lifting.

Supply Chain Management

Here are a few examples of what AI can do for supply chains:

  • Improve last-mile deliveries
  • Select optimal delivery routes
  • Track driver performance in real-time
  • Forecast future delivery times

Companies ensure greater control over their supply chains.

Autonomous Vehicles

Self-driving vehicles outperform their human-controlled counterparts in the following ways:

  • Are ready to operate 24/7 without any breaks
  • Accelerate the delivery process
  • Can track road conditions, accidents, and traffic jams in real-time
  • Optimize delivery routes

They can enhance road safety and delivery efficiency.

Design and Manufacturing

AI-powered generative design software requires the manufacturer to specify the following parameters for creating a product::

  • Raw materials
  • Size and weight
  • Manufacturing methods
  • Expenses and other resource constraints

Algorithms will offer several design variations. Human professionals will be able to test all of them without investing in the production and pick the best option.

Warehouse Management

boston dynamics stretch warehouse bot moving boxes
Image: Boston Dynamics

To reduce workplace injuries and let humans focus on complex tasks, robots in the warehouses can do the following operations with items:

  • Track
  • Lift
  • Move
  • Sort

Companies can cut down costs on hiring and training human professionals as well as paying monthly salaries and providing other types of compensation to them. The costs of managing warehouses will decrease thanks to the automation of inventory and quality control.

The opportunity of collecting data in real-time enables manufacturers to better plan their logistics. They can stock up their warehouses to precisely meet the consumers’ demand without spending a fortune on transportation. Sales and profit margins should increase thanks to such an approach.

Process Automation

Compared to humans, AI is much more efficient at identifying bottlenecks long before they become critical and eliminating them. Thanks to process automation, companies can achieve the following goals:

  • Minimize cycle times
  • Boost yields
  • Maximize accuracy
  • Ensure safety on the production floor
  • Enhance the morale of staff members

It becomes easier for businesses to compare factory performance across several regions as well as standardize and streamline workflows. Besides, companies can allow robots to carry out repeatable tasks without human supervision. People should intervene only when anomalies are detected.

Predictive Maintenance

AI-powered solutions gather data from sensors installed on the production floor. They detect anomalies before they cause a breakdown and notify human professionals.

It’s always cheaper and easier to fix one part in terms of predictive maintenance than replace the whole machine later.

Product Development

Manufacturers that integrate AR and VR solutions into their workflows can reduce trial and error costs as well as decrease time to market. It becomes easier for them to increase innovations and outperform their competitors.

Plus, AI facilitates the process of providing ongoing support for released products.

Connected Factory

robots in manufacturing
Image: Pexels

Here is what connected factories can do better than their conventional counterparts:

  • Ensure real-time shop floor visibility
  • Monitor asset utilization
  • Establish remote, touchless systems
  • Enable real-time interventions
  • Create a single source of truth for all production data
  • Seamlessly scale production capacity

The term “connected” in this case is synonymous with “smart.” It means that the factory relies on sensors and cloud-based solutions.

Visual Inspections and Quality Control

Manufacturers can install high-resolution cameras on their floors. Computer vision can detect potential flaws or issues much quickly and more accurately than humans, which enables businesses to minimize product recalls and the amount of waste.

Purchasing Price Variance

An AI-based dashboard enables the business to track both resource features and supplier characteristics. With the help of AI, companies can:

  • Group the components required for building products
  • Predict a standard purchase price
  • Create a baseline for price comparisons across suppliers
  • Track components bought from various suppliers
  • Manage all procurement data through a centralized system

Fluctuations in the prices of raw materials can impact manufacturers’ margins. AI can help businesses to generate sustainable profits.

Order Management

In this aspect, AI helps companies to tick the following boxes:

  • Automate order entry
  • Use sensors to track inventories
  • Manage the complexity of various types of orders across different channels
  • Ensure seamless and transparent inventory planning and order management

Order management processes should be agile and cost-efficient.

Cybersecurity

Even a short-time shutdown of the assembly line might incur significant losses for a manufacturer. The more IoT devices the manufacturing process relies on, the higher the risks.

Self-learning AI tools can detect any potential threats long before they attack the business. They can alert human cybersecurity specialists to take proactive measures.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you found this article informative and now you better understand the opportunities and benefits of AI for manufacturing.

AI comes in handy for optimizing logistics, product development, order management, warehouse management, supply chain management, cybersecurity, design, and manufacturing.

It is indispensable for managing visual inspections and quality control, handling purchasing price variance, providing predictive maintenance, and carrying out process automation.

Connected factories, robots, and autonomous vehicles enable manufacturers to deliver better products with minimum human effort and reduced losses.

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