Automation is already a popular manufacturing process, but with advances in AI and remote communication, this practice is likely to explode in the coming years. Automation in terms of manufacturing basically means taking rote tasks and designing a system that performs them in a fully automatic way. For example, a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant might have an automated system for dispensing a given amount of a powdered chemical. Automation can provide numerous benefits, including mechanical precision and consistency, greater safety and decreased operating expenses.
AI is going to make automation more widespread and even more reliable. Based on the trajectory of current automation trends, here are a few predictions about what the future of manufacturing will look like.
More Factories Will Become 100% Automated In The Near Future
It is currently possible to have an entire factory run by just a couple of people with the rest of the operation performed by automated machines and robots. However, even the most fine-tuned machine needs human interaction and correction to recognize and prevent manufacturing failures. This is where AI just might change the game. AI could make it possible for manufacturing machines to understand far more complex goals than those which they currently execute. This will make it possible for operations to become 100% automated at a given location with regular remote check-ins from a central hub.
How Automation Combined With AI Could Prevent Recall and Repair Expenses
In theory, AI could not only alert a human overseer in the event of a manufacturing failure but possibly correct it as well. This means that there will be more errors caught before they cost your business the expense of a recall. To me, the money lost by manufacturing a product is not even the worst part of a manufacturing failure. I know I would hate seeing my brand on the news next to a recall. I would take every precaution to avoid this if I worked in the food or pharmaceutical industry. A recall is the fastest way to put people off your food brand in the short term, and if you don’t give them something new to think about, possibly the long term as well. For the pharmaceutical and medical industry, you are inviting complicated legal problems when you have to perform a recall. Automation will allow for consistency and quality in your process.
Automation Will Make Us Question Basic Expenses That Were Once Indispensable
Your factory needs heat and lights, right? What if that weren’t true? It’s possible that fully automated factories will operate on pure touch sensors. If the automation system is so sophisticated that no human involvement is necessary, why turn on the lights? Take the latest smartphone technology, which can recognize your face even if you look at it in the dark. Maybe your machines can operate in different wavelengths of light than those that the human eye is suited. This can save you money and help the environment by saving energy. The same theory applies to heat. While people may need a comfortable 72 degrees, we don’t have to be held to that standard in an environment made purely for machines.
Automation and AI Integration Could Boom Sooner Than You Think
The reality of manufacturing is that many of the calculations that human minds find complex can happen instantaneously for an automation machine. While many people believe this is going to mean people will be replaced, we can hope it simply means they are going to move into new roles. This has happened throughout the history of industry, and it generally results in a higher average standard of living in the long run, which gives us reason to be excited about the future.