Artificial Intelligence - The Brains behind Industry 4.0

Automation and robotics provide the muscle for Industry 4.0, AR/VR, cameras and other sensors provide the senses, and data and connectivity are its central nervous system. But the real brains behind this industrial revolution is AI (Artificial Intelligence) and at this week’s Hannover Fair this is underlined by numerous offerings that use AI to enhance processes driven by the collaboration between human and machine.

Cyber-physical systems and machine learning are cornerstones of the Industry 4.0 philosophy, first promoted at the Hannover Fair some six years ago. When it was first presented to the market it was met with enthusiasm and confusion, often in equal measure. If anything, those behind the promotion of this industrial revolution were anticipating or waiting for, certain technology to be ready to deliver the promised values that come from systems that self-heal and self-learn to improve efficiency and outcome.

Earlier this year at CES I heard Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO, tell an audience that he could envisage a time when intelligent systems could predict need or market opportunity and design and manufacture products with little or no human interface. Imagine Marketing, Supply Chain and Manufacturing all being tied off this way! This is a long way away, but AI is already finding its way into the Smart Factory environment, and we at Jabil are working hard to harness this technology along with AR and other enabling technologies to make a more agile manufacturing process for our customers.

We are already using cyber-physical systems or closed loops in various parts of our manufacturing processes and our Industry 4.0 team works in all our manufacturing facilities to bring the best and brightest ideas to our global footprint. Our team is actively working with trade associations like the IPC to develop and deliver standards for machine-to-machine communication that will drive this industrial revolution forward.

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We recognize that manufacturing agility is key to success for us and for the brands we serve and we are using AI throughout the whole ‘create, make and deliver’ value chain to optimize, improve and adjust every element to achieve the best outcome regardless of external circumstance. AI helps us manage ever more complex supply chains, allowing us to adjust to shifts in demand, geography or even mitigate the risk of unforeseen incidents, like natural disasters or political shifts.

This is a huge undertaking and we are collaborating with many partners. At the Hannover Fair this week we are sharing the limelight with Microsoft on their booth in Hall 7 where our innovation team is using its HoloLens, design tools and an Ultimaker 3D Printer to create an augmented design to prototype environment that demonstrates our ability to accelerate innovation. This is an exciting project, and one of many collaborations which see us working with various companies to embrace new techniques to deliver our goals of agility throughout the entire life of a product.

I am not sure how far away Brain Krzanich’s vision of AI product development is, but I am sure that at Jabil and Radius Innovation & Development, we are striving to become the world's most technologically advanced manufacturing solutions company. And we plan to be front and center with the use of AI, AR and much more in delivering innovation to an ever more demanding consumer market, all at the speed of digital.