Manufacturing industry moving to golden age of AI: Google Cloud report
According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic may have spurred a significant increase in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital enablers among manufacturers.
As artificial intelligence is becoming more pervasive in solving real-world problems for manufacturers, the industry is moving away from "pilot purgatory" to the "golden age of AI", says a new Google Cloud report that surveyed more than 1,000 senior manufacturing executives across seven countries from October 15 - November 4, 2020.
According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic may have spurred a significant increase in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital enablers among manufacturers. While 76% of manufacturers have turned to digital enablers and disruptive technologies such as data and analytics, cloud, and AI due to the pandemic, 66% of manufacturers who use AI in their day-to-day operations said their reliance on AI is increasing.
The report identifies automotive/OEMs (76%), automotive suppliers (68%) and heavy machinery (67%) as the top three sub-sectors deploying AI to assist in day-to-day operations.
Manufacturers are now increasingly turning to AI for:
- assistance with business continuity (38%)
- helping employees increase efficiency (38%)
- to be helpful for employees overall (34%)
In terms of specific AI use cases, quality inspection, supply chain management, risk management, product and/or production line quality checks and inventory management are the key areas where AI is currently deployed in day-to-day operations.
According to the report, the use of AI in manufacturing varies quite strongly between geographies. For instance, in Italy, 80% of surveyed manufacturers report using AI in day-to-day operations whereas, in the United States, AI-use is only 69%. The report cites the following barriers to AI implementation in manufacturing:
- AI talent gap (25%)
- Lack of IT infrastructure (23%)
- Cost (21%)
- Unproven technology (19%)
- Not having stakeholder buy-in (16%)
"The manufacturing industry is no stranger to innovation, from the days of mass production, to lean manufacturing, six sigma and, more recently, enterprise resource planning. AI promises to bring even more innovation to the forefront," the Google Cloud report concluded.