How AI is revolutionizing manufacturing

From predictive maintenance to digital twins, artificial intelligence is ushering in the next manufacturing revolution — if not for shortages of skills, data, and standards.

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"Today, you design something, send it to a manufacturing expert, they figure out how to manufacture it, then engineering and analysis people look to see if the manufactured piece satisfies our operational requirements," he says. "It takes months."

Manufacturing is the rare area where physical capabilities are far ahead of what software can handle, Uzun says.

"We have new materials that are extremely exciting, new additive manufacturing technologies, hybrid manufacturing machines," he says. "But when you look at the software that people are using, it's a generation behind of what you can achieve with the materials and tools that you have. We have these machines that can do both additive and subtractive manufacturing right now, but you can't really design for that manufacturing capability. So it all happens manually, which basically is beyond the cognitive abilities of any humans for most of the complex manufacturing needs we have today."

In order to have design tools that can keep up with the pace of change in material science and manufacturing technologies, artificial intelligence needs to be built into the tools themselves, says Sai Nelaturi, area manager at PARC.

PARC is also working on creating standards and protocols that allow all the disparate systems in manufacturing plants to talk to each other, and creating AI-driven algorithms to optimize for energy use, throughput, efficiency, and safety.

PARC doesn't make the technology itself, Uzun says. "We are an innovation partner and technology provider. We create those technologies, get them to prototype stage, and find the right partner to take it to the market."

Today, PARC is working with both large and small manufacturing companies to test the technologies and bring them to market.

AI technologies can will help small and medium-sized manufacturers to become competitive — and help bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States, he says. "And that will create other kinds of jobs around this ecosystem when that happens."

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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