Intelligent factories have existed since manufacturing’s historical inception, but intelligence—defined as the acquisition and application of manufacturing knowledge—resided only with the factory’s staff.
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I’ve had quite a month, again, covering clever software and gadgets that continue to inch their way into performing tasks once reserved for humans. These tasks range from mundane material handling to highly skilled engineering design. It has made me think quite a bit about how our world of manufacturing and engineering will be affected by all this artificial cleverness.
When I graduated with an engineering degree some decades ago, I learned that the organizations I was going to work for had internal communication problems. This was especially true for those that designed and manufactured complex machinery such as engines, aircraft, or automobiles.
My instincts tell me we need a sense of urgency around the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in manufacturing. The urgency is driven by how quickly technology can move today, and how an unexpected breakthrough can quickly dominate.
In the near absence of academic programs to teach undergraduate engineering students additive manufacturing, a California-based startup has stepped in to help fill the void through internships.
My original intention for this column was to discuss a phrase getting a lot of buzz lately, artificial intelligence (AI). By any measure, interest in AI is expanding exponentially, both in the number of articles one can read on the subject and, according to Google Trends, the number of searches for those articles.
Composite materials have clear benefits for manufactured parts in aerospace, medical, automotive applications and many other industries. Ensuring the highest part accuracy is critical. Force measurement and material testing are essential processes for product designers and manufacturers to gain insightful data to create high-quality composite components.
It’s easy to become dazed by the continuing stream of buzz words. For those of us in manufacturing, all this buzz creates a sense of impending change, but no clarity on what that change might be. Uncertainty means anxiety.
I’m among the first to dive into the latest manufacturing innovations and see how they can improve our customers’ operations. Yet, I’m also among the first to advise them to pause and ensure that the fundamentals of their manufacturing processes are in place before adding something new into the complex mix of functionality and desired outcomes.
I just returned from IMTS in Chicago and my first thought was, “where will I be able to rack up all those bonus steps I got last week?” On the easiest day, I walked 7.9 miles, and I topped 10 miles on two other days. It’s easy to understand why.