Artificial intelligence (AI) remains a major buzz word across many industries, including manufacturing, with the media covering new AI capabilities and trends playing a key role in enabling the digitalization of production. But what’s the real story?
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In many cases, AI exists only in theory, and there’s a long way to go before it’s ubiquitous. Third-party service providers touting their often-expensive AI-based technologies can make AI look even more mysterious than it already is. Giving up internal expertise and control to any external contractor can be equally expensive with unclear profits.
Does the potential to leverage AI justify the investment? Is the optimization of a few parameters with AI actually worth it? Isn’t AI just being used to chase a trend?
Becoming flexible with AI
AI should not just be used as a means of optimizing processes that have long been automated. The real potential is to do something completely new with the technology. Tasks that were previously done by humans or physical machines can now be done by AI-controlled software powering robots. This increases flexibility and traceability for the robots, and in many cases, reliability, and enables a more successful operation on the market.
But two hurdles remain:
- A limited number of specialists
- Lack of transparency of the technology itself
Few AI professionals are available; does the industry need them?
As the history of digitalization demonstrates, there has always been a limited number of specialists for new technologies at the start, but this has never stopped progress. Before the triumph of PCs in the 1980s, it would have been easy to believe that every company needed a data center with its own computer scientists to participate in the first wave of digitalization. That isn’t what happened. Instead, there were ready-made products with clearly defined interfaces that enabled every business, no matter how small, to capitalize on IT innovations. […]
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