Artificial Intelligence is required to analyze the flood of data pouring in from sensors and actuators. Human analysts or standard programmed algorithms are simply unable to cope with the volume of information. In a recent study, researchers at McKinsey recently declared AI to be a "growth driver" that can boost Germany's gross domestic production up to four percent by 2030 .
What does AI add to Industry 4.0?
To get a handle on Big Data, companies need to harness a sub-set of AI known as Machine Learning. That's because humans are simply unable to analyze such enormous volumes of data. Computer systems, by contrast, can work on their own to identify structures, patterns and congruences in the data. Machine Learning systems even optimize their own analysis efforts, comparing the target state against any anomalies that arise.
Predictive maintenance: Making production tools work more effectively
In the manufacturing industry, predictive maintenance is a major topic of interest. The approach starts with sensors: they read out status data such as vibrations, voltages, temperature and pressure levels and then forward it to an evaluation system. That data analysis is then used to create prognoses: When is the system likely to fail? How long will the machine continue to run? What is the optimal time for maintenance? When done right, the approach can reduce or even eliminate downtime. Experts believe that up to 20 percent better utilization rates can be achieved if facility operators apply consistent predictive maintenance to their equipment.
Automatic pattern recognition
Another component is industrial image processing. Automatic pattern recognition via cameras and sensors allows for quicker detection of errors and their causes, and with it significantly better quality assurance. At the heart of all this is an increased capacity by computers to recognize images. Typical applications include identifying or counting components, tasks that are especially popular for quality assurance, shipping and receiving tasks.
Repetitive and dangerous tasks can be handed over to intelligent robots. Their strong ability to learn and adapt makes them perfect for routine tasks: "Human employees can then concentrate on the interesting tasks that increase the value chain," the researchers from McKinsey note in their study . They presume that Germany's GDP could grow by as much as four percent thanks to the use of smart robots .
The future of Industry 4.0 lies in AI
When will Industry 4.0 make the jump from exception to rule? Before this can happen, established companies must first invest more heavily in working together with software firms. You can learn more at the HANNOVER MESSE, the hotspot for Industry 4.0. A broad range of new approaches will be on display at the trade fair, giving visitors the chance to discuss the latest developments with real experts.