Industry is becoming increasingly digitalized, the digital enterprise is already a reality as Data is continuously generated, processed, and analyzed. The volumes of data in production environments are the basis on which digital representations of entire plants and systems are generated. These digital twins have been used for some time to structure the planning and design of products and machinery – and production operations themselves – and do so more flexibly and more efficiently while manufacturing high-quality, customized products faster and at an affordable price. But what would happen if the machines and processes could gather insights from these high volumes of data by themselves and optimize their processes during live operation? The potential would be enormous. The good news is that this can already be achieved, step-by-step, using artificial intelligence (AI).
Creating new opportunities
AI has been the focus of research for more than 30 years. During this time, major advances have been made in this area of technology: for example, more powerful hardware and software and improved computing power and data transmission are now being leveraged using artificial intelligence. This has created new opportunities for flexible, efficient production, even when it comes to complex and increasingly customized products in small batch runs. The potential is significant, a study by Accenture shows: AI has the potential to add US$957 billion to India’s economy in 2035 and more than 88 percent of respondents in India anticipate making moderate-to extensive investments in one or more AI-related technologies over the next three years.
The first applications of artificial intelligence are already finding their place in regular industrial activities including language recognition to perform basic tasks, documenting surroundings using cameras, laser beams, or X-rays, and providing virtual personal assistants in logistics. According to a BCG study, India has been ranked on the third spot in terms of adopting Artificial Intelligence. India, being an emerging country, remains competitive as Artificial Intelligence is heavily used for automation across several industries like- Healthcare, Banking, Retail and E-Commerce, Education, Agriculture and Manufacturing and many others. Industries are moving far beyond experimentation and are taking advantage of AI to overcome the physical limitations of capital and labor and open up new sources of value and growth. Mere, Siemens has solutions in its portfolio in the area of service, as for example predictive maintenance, and other applications for engineering and quality testing. Cloud solutions like MindSphere and intelligent applications also provide support for the ongoing process optimization that improves machine efficiency and availability.
AI and Industry 4.0
Big data and AI give Industry 4.0 a huge boost. Digital is now a priority for most of the companies across various sectors in India. Companies are now using advanced connectivity, advanced automation, cloud computing, 3D printing and intelligent software solutions to transform their businesses. These advanced solutions help companies to identify trends and patterns that can then be used to make manufacturing processes more efficient and reduce their energy consumption. This is how plants are constantly adapting to new circumstances and undergoing optimization with no need for operator input. And as the level of networking increases, the AI software can learn to “read between the lines,” which can lead to the discovery of many complex connections in systems that aren’t yet or are no longer evident to the human eye. Intelligent software with sufficiently intelligent analytical technology is already available. But whether data processing is performed using a cloud solution or at the local level (for example, using Edge computing) will depend on the user’s requirements. Data on an Edge platform is available more quickly and at a higher resolution, whereas a considerable amount of computing power is available in the cloud. In many cases combining edge and cloud computing is required to benefit from both worlds.
MindSphere, the cloud based, open IoT operating system from Siemens, can be used to link products, plants, systems, and machines. It is one of the most important foundations enabling the use of AI in industry. MindSphere performs extensive analyses to make the vast amounts of data generated by the Internet of Things (IoT) useful for optimization, simulation, and decision-making.
The digital twin enables virtual testing of a variety of scenarios and promotes smart decisions in areas such as optimizing production. In the future, using a digital representation of a machine tool and the associated manufacturing process, AI will be able to recognize whether the workpiece currently being manufactured meets quality requirements. Moreover, it determines the production parameters that need to be adapted to ensure that this remains the case during the ongoing production process. As a result, production is made even more reliable and more efficient and companies even more competitive.
Security is the highest priority
A precondition for both Industry 4.0 and for artificial intelligence is a state-of-the-art, end-to-end IT infrastructure, regardless of the size of the company. That’s the only way a business can become part of the digital future. But this must always be accompanied by an awareness that digitalization and cyber security need to go hand in hand. The risks are huge without the right safeguards in place. According to the 2018 World Economic Forum’s “Global Risk Report,” business losses through cybercrime over the next five years will amount to $8 trillion, far exceeding Germany’s gross domestic product. Comprehensive protection for industrial facilities, as exemplified by the defense in depth concept from Siemens, will therefore play a key role in the future. After all, hackers are growing smarter all the time, and it is vital that companies stay ahead of them.