Emerging Technologies with the rise of IoT and AI In Industrial Automation

  Mar 29, 2018 1:46:31 AM

Automation, for decades, has been used in industry to produce simple objects. Programmed intelligence based on simple rules and limited data inputs have powered various industrial applications for years.

Today, artificial intelligence, robots, and automation technologies are crucial in the way industries function & are expected to have a visible impact on productivity.

‘Internet of Things’ is one of the most anticipated trends in heavy industries segment. IoT is powered by a plethora of technologies - low-cost sensors, IP and wireless networks, private and public clouds, and powerful edge infrastructure.

Also, another technological development is taking place with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) - systems that are powered by machine learning. Machine learning, a portion of AI, predicts & learns from events or optimizes performance. Machine learning is algorithms that are capable of quickly processing large, complex data that would be seemingly difficult for the human.

With the ability of sensors and applications to generate massive amounts of data from individual components, and the ability of machine learning to derive insights from large scale inputs, there is a lot of talk about the possibilities of IoT powered by AI.

Some technological trends that are going to have a significant impact on the manufacturing industry:

AR/VR

AR/VR has enabled enterprises to deliver real-time information at the point of use. These AR/VR based application are used to service equipment's/installations or for diagnostics. In addition to this, there are possibilities which involve analyzing real-time data retrieved by the technology from the shop floor to design new machines and products that address the shortcomings of present day devices.

A few years ago, product concept testing was an iterative process, which involved actually developing a prototype and then testing it physically. This was costly and time consuming. Then came the CAD/CAM solutions where we could build a digital prototype which definitely shortened the time taken to verify the concept without having to build one but took away some of the tangibility which was provided by physical prototypes.

Now with advent of AR/VR, companies are investing in building special VR rooms, where one can walk in, experience, and interact with the digital avatar in the same way as they would interact with a physical product. These rooms are equipped with specific sound and sensory capabilities which help one transcend the boundaries of reality and virtual and bring the prototype to life, not just in form and shape but also in behaviour.

IIoT

The IIoT market is driven by high impact advancements in semiconductor technology and electronics, the evolution of cloud computing, the standardization of network protocols, and support from key players in the automation eco-system. In the last few years, the idea of a connected factory has been becoming a reality. This means expanding the power of the Internet to link machines, sensors, computers, and a workforce. The connected/ wearable devices provide more precision and will be able to translate this data into useful insights without the need of a physical presence.

Industrial Automation

This trend is changing the nature of the manufacturing industry which was once considered to be only dirty and dangerous. Using automation in production and assembly not only stands well regarding optimization, but it has other positive impacts like reducing costs and increasing productivity.

Convergence of IoT, big data, robotics, and machine learning will create enormous opportunities for industrial enterprises while posing few significant challenges too like Communications - All of this innovation is only possible if data can move freely across organizational barriers, something that often requires network integration.

AI helps overcome many challenges that have been plaguing the heavy industries: from a scarcity of expertise to decision complexity, integration issues, and information overload. Adopting AI on the shop floor enables businesses to transform their processes completely.

AI is helping the manufacturing sector to achieve process automation (revolutionize mass-production), round-the-clock Production (Augmented production capabilities), safer working conditions (reduction in workplace casualties), new opportunities for humans (focus on complex and innovative tasks), reduced operating expenditure (significantly lower overhead).

Improving business outcomes using various technologies, eco-system partners like Sasken Technologies are engineering solutions and playing a crucial role in the technological revolution that is transforming the way modern factories operate. Sasken is enabling world leaders leverage technology and innovation to implement advanced automation plugged with intelligence.  Sasken provides for asset monitoring solutions, analytics to optimise OPEX, diagnostic AR/VR applications, and plant and shop floor automation solutions for top OEM vendors.

Author: Ashish Mital, AVP-Digital Platform, Digital Transformation Services

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