SAS: adopting artificial intelligence (AI) in manufacturing
As the challenges in manufacturing continue to rise due to the impact of COVID-19, we take a look at how artificial intelligence can benefit the industry.
With the vast quantities of data available to the manufacturing industry due to its use of sensors and networks and the use of data being more valuable than ever before, the manufacturing industry is primed for the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) to drive business value, during these uncertain times.
“With the difficulties we're confronting today, there has never been a more important time to take full advantage of AI. The answers that AI holds for manufacturing are well-suited to helping them adapt to the pressures and topsy-turvy conditions the pandemic created,” comments SAS.
In a recent global survey - conducted by Forbes and sponsored by SAS, Intel and Accenture - it was revealed that AI deployment has surpassed discrete use cases and experiments, and into enterprise-wide adoption, stating that companies are on the verge of a momentum shift even with the gaps in capabilities and strategy.
“The truth is that large global manufacturers still rely heavily on older, disconnected machinery”, says Marcia Walker, principal industry consultant, SAS global manufacturing industry practice.
“So, while many manufacturers are using AI, in this survey we see that they’re using it in unexpected ways – in customer-facing operations, for example, or in the areas of warranty claims and recalls. There’s still so much that manufacturers will be able to do with AI as their businesses evolve and they continue to invest in modernizing other parts of their businesses. The good news is that we’re finally seeing AI move into aspects of manufacturing that have remained analog for years, such as on the factory floor. In production, for example, my own experience shows that image recognition is being more widely adopted,” adds Walker.
With 26% of manufacturing respondents reporting that AI-based technology has been deployed and 50% under development, the figures show an alignment with other industries, suggesting that the sector has embraced the use of AI.
The challenges of adopting AI
When asked to identify the core challenges for successful implementation and application of AI, manufacturing highlighted: ensuring AI-based outputs are objective and neutral (24%), a lack of development and deployment expertise (26%), organisational culture (22%) and resistance from employees due to concerns about job security (16%).
The future for AI in manufacturing
With the adoption of AI continuing to expand among manufacturers, SAS predicts that the development and adoption of this technology will vary depending on a facility’s operating environment. Key factors that will set a successful facility apart from the others includes: process maturity, connecting analytics to AI, trust in AI and healthy levels of AI oversight.
For more information on manufacturing topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Manufacturing Global.
IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.