The first evidence of the “wheel” dates back to 3,500 B.C. During that era, it served as a potter’s wheel. The idea gradually evolved, and in the next few hundred years, it found its use in chariots. Developments thereafter are well documented – from motor vehicles to aeroplanes to machines, and practically everywhere else. We never stopped innovating after inventing the wheel.
In 1950, English mathematician Alan Turing published a paper titled “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” which opened the doors to the field we know today as Artificial Intelligence. In 1956, John McCarthy, an American computer scientist and cognitive scientist, coined the term “Artificial Intelligence” or AI. After decades of research, computers are gradually moving closer to passing the Turing Test. The Turing Test is a method of inquiry in AI for determining whether a computer is capable of thinking like a human being. Here, we will explore the different building blocks of an AI system, the extent of AI adoption by businesses, and the next big leap. This document aims to help business leaders build a more focused strategy in their journey toward an Intelligent Factory.
Industry 4.0 and the AI Locomotive
According to McKinsey, 50% of companies that embrace AI over the next five to seven years have the potential to double their cash flow, with manufacturing leading all industries due to its heavy reliance on data (Source). Industry 4.0 makes factories and every entity on the shop-floor smarter, and AI plays a vital role in this journey. AI offers new ways to boost employee productivity and creativity, increase business agility, improve customer engagement, and jumpstart new product innovation. To infuse AI in the factory landscape, technology companies leverage the existing systems and also identify or create new avenues to make the systems more intelligent.
Integration of AI with recent emerging technologies such as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), big data analytics, cloud computing, and cyber-physical systems will enable operation of industries in a flexible, efficient, and sustainable way. If we consider the idea of an “AI locomotive” in the context of Manufacturing, we can break down the various components of this system as follows: