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Robotics, AI beneficial for business

An image of Dijam Panigrahi

DIJAM PANAGRAHI GridRaster co-founder and COO Dijam Panigrahi that robotics and AI will have an impact on the manufacturing industry

19th April 2024

     

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The manufacturing industry is currently at the doorstep of a transformational era, one marked by the seamless integration of robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and augmented reality or virtual reality (AR/VR), says GridRaster cofounder and COO Dijam Panigrahi.

This fusion is “not merely a technological trend” but a paradigm shift reshaping how materials are produced, processes are optimised, and workers interact with machinery – and is likely to continue beyond 2024.

Technologies are reshaping manufacturing processes, ushering in “an era of unprecedented efficiency, innovation and competitiveness”.

He says that robotic automation has long been a cornerstone of modern manufacturing, streamlining repetitive tasks, enhancing precision, and augmenting human labour. However, he comments that recent advancements in robotics have elevated their role from mere tools to intelligent collaborators.

“Powered by AI algorithms, these robots possess the ability to adapt, learn and optimise operations in real-time. Whether it’s assembly line tasks, materials handling, or quality control, robotic systems equipped with AI are changing the speed, accuracy and flexibility of production processes.”

Leveraging Intelligent Technologies

The Intelligence of AI is key, as AI is the driving force behind the cognitive revolution in manufacturing, says Panigrahi.

By harnessing vast amounts of data generated throughout the production life cycle, AI algorithms can uncover insights, predict outcomes, and optimise operations with “unprecedented” precision. From predictive maintenance and demand forecasting to supply chain optimisation and resource allocation, AI empowers manufacturers to make data-driven decisions that drive efficiency, minimise downtime, and enhance overall productivity.

Moreover, AI-driven analytics enable manufacturers to unlock new levels of customisation and personalisation, catering to the diverse needs and preferences of consumers.

“The use of data isn’t enough to power this evolution, and manufacturers are also realising the importance of bridging the physical and digital worlds. AR/VR technologies are blurring the lines between the physical and digital realms, offering immersive experiences that revolutionise manufacturing workflows.”

The Role of AR/VR

He says that on the shop floor, AR-powered smart glasses provide workers with real-time visualisation, instructions, and contextual information, enhancing training, troubleshooting and dynamic task execution.

VR simulations, meanwhile, enable manufacturers to design, prototype and optimise products in virtual environments, minimising costs, accelerating time-to-market and fostering innovation. “By leveraging AR/VR, manufacturers can transcend the limitations of traditional manufacturing methods, unlocking new possibilities in design, collaboration and customer engagement,” comments Panigrahi.

He states that what sets this most recent technological revolution apart from others is not just the individual advancements in technologies such as robotics, AI, and AR/VR, but their synergistic convergence.

“When integrated seamlessly, these technologies create a holistic ecosystem that amplifies their individual capabilities, leading to transformative outcomes across the manufacturing value chain,” he notes.

For instance, AI-driven robotics can collaborate with human workers in real time, guided by AR visualisations and dynamic path planning that provides insights and instructions, resulting in unparalleled levels of efficiency and safety.

Benefits of Generative AI

Panigrahi says that generative AI technologies are giving “even more power” to manufacturers. He cites ChatGPT as the latest technology that uses natural language processing.

“It leverages deep learning algorithms to enable users to converse with chatbots. What has captured the attention of manufacturers, designers and engineers is that it is an advanced system that can understand complex questions and provide very accurate answers almost immediately.”

Further, because it was developed with conversational AI capabilities, it can immediately comprehend user queries and generate natural-sounding responses that are tailored to the conversation context. It also has built-in memory capability that stores information from past conversations to better respond to subsequent messages.

“Today’s leading manufacturers are building AI-models, like ChatGPT, to help create virtual worlds in the metaverse to run simulations and increase productivity/efficiency metrics. More specifically, AI tools such as ChatGPT and the metaverse can help create a three-dimensional environment that replicates the real world, and the data used can be harnessed for analysis, running simulations, and interacting with data more efficiently.”

The use of robotics, AI and AR/VR in manufacturing streamlines operations, reduces costs, and increases productivity by enabling access to advanced technologies without the capital expenditure and technical complexities of setting up and maintaining these systems internally, he states.

This “deep level” operational strategy allows manufacturers to focus on their core competencies while leveraging the benefits of automation. Combined with other advanced technologies such as AR/VR, AI and the Internet of Things, manufacturers will “realise true competitive advantages.”

This fusion of robotics, AI, and AR/VR heralds a new era, as by harnessing the power of these advanced technologies, manufacturers can unlock new levels of agility and customisation, while driving sustainable growth in an increasingly dynamic global economy.

“As we stand on the cusp of this transformative journey, embracing collaboration, innovation and responsible stewardship will be paramount in realising the full potential of this technological revolution,” he concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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