The intelligence of everything

Since IoT devices started to gain popularity in 2010, the technology has provided the manufacturing industry with sensors, automated gateway connectivity, and more. Now, IoT is being combined with artificial intelligence (AI) to create a fully autonomous data collection analysis ecosystem.

IoT devices are extremely beneficial to the manufacturing industry, allowing the collection of a substantial amount of data from multiple sources. However, the immense amount of data collected can become complex to process and analyse. To solve this issue, some companies combined AI with IoT devices to secure the future potential of the devices as a more lasting technology.

AI-powered IoT creates an intelligent ecosystem that will have the capability to learn from the data it collects without the need for human intervention. Currently, all IoT devices follow five basic steps: create, communicate, aggregate, analyse and act. Analysis is the most important step and determines the action. AI technology can play an integral role in analysis and help boost IoT to the next level.

Boosting the manufacturing industry

AI is not a new technology to the manufacturing industry — around 60 per cent of manufacturers are using it, according to a 2020 MIT survey. The combined use of IoT and AI is also already used in manufacturing, for example in AI robotics. However, there is still room for more implementation of AI-powered IoT to help boost operational efficiency, improve risk management, increase scalability and eliminate costly unplanned downtime

AI-powered IoT devices allow for constant data streams in which the AI capabilities can detect patterns. Minimal effort is required from humans, as the AI will analyse patterns autonomously to spot anomalies or inefficiencies. AI provides companies with actionable insights into processes, time-consuming functions and other factors that can influence efficiency.

Another benefit of AI-powered IoT is it can help establish better risk management. For example, AI can inform manufacturers of any patterns in production demand so they can ensure that this is met, decreasing the chance of waste. It also provides real-time monitoring of processes so manufacturers can be constantly aware of risks that could occur during the whole production process.

Real-time risk monitoring also helps boost predictive maintenance capabilities and, in turn, helps eliminate costly unplanned downtime. According to a Deloitte article on intelligent IoT, AI-powered IoT can reduce time investments in maintenance planning by 20 to 50 per cent, as well as decrease maintenance costs by five to ten per cent. 

IoT combined with AI also has the potential to increase IoT scalability in manufacturing. According to Statista, the UK is one of the lowest investors in IoT devices, with only around £20.9 billion spent on IoT devices in 2019. The lower uptake of IoT devices could be explained by the difficulty to handle the large volumes of data collected. However, implementing AI-powered IoT devices removes this issue as data can be autonomously analysed and summarised, reducing it to more manageable levels while still collecting information from a large number of IoT devices. 

AI-powered IoT technology can progress the manufacturing industry while boosting operational efficiency, improving risk management, and reducing downtime and scalability issues. Manufacturers who have yet to implement AI-powered IoT should consider starting a trial run to see if the improved IoT devices can help increase their competitive edge. 

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