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Linking the virtual and physical worlds: the new role of the engineer 4.0

Published on
05 November 2018
Topics: Articles

How is an AI-infused factory different? How are engineers and operators on the production line working and interacting with AI?
Solving problems isn’t the sole competence of humans anymore, and engineers are beginning to unleash the reasoning capacity of AI on notoriously hard business challenges. Pushing the limits of production efficiency requires more than algorithms: it’s the symbiosis of business expertise of employees with the power of AI, and the capacity of the data science team to act as a catalyzer.

How is this collaboration between men and machines looking like on the floor? The most effective method that works alongside traditional operations and that can help them in their daily routine is a dashboard accessible via mobile or fixed screens.

Central to this concept is a visualization of a digital twin of the factory, designed by engineers and describing the properties of their processes. The AI, analyzing and predicting based on past data with a live, complete view of the processes, gives recommendations to operators through a notification panel.

Safely testing scenarios in the digital space
AI aims for optimal efficiency for current and future conditions, but during their tasks operators must also ponder the potential risk of AI-prescribed settings with the desired impact. With advanced AI, the return of investment and the risk chance can be calculated and displayed in real time with each recommendation, building trust and giving humans final control.

Back in the office, cloned digital twin can be subtly altered to simulate different scenarios, allowing for a safe testbed to evaluate the AI models. Engineers can also use the same AI platform for root cause analysis, to better understand patterns leading to a failure or problem.

As digital transformation permeates the manufacturing industry, competition is raging, and companies must incorporate innovative technologies such as AI to survive. A reductionist top-down approach won’t work. Forward looking employees are ready to play their role by adapting to these evolutions: they just need a company the creates the right conditions. In the end, by linking the real and the digital world, fluid, useful interactions between employees and AI empower everyone in the age of Industry 4.0.