The role of AI in the electronics manufacturing industry
By Nikolas Kairinos, CEO and founder, Fountech.ai
You would be hard-pressed to find an industry that has been more receptive to new technology than manufacturing. Powered by innovation and a knack for adapting quickly to emerging trends, the electronics manufacturing industry in particular has been at the forefront of the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution.
According to a recent report, the AI in manufacturing market is expected to increase from $1 billion in 2018 to a staggering $17.2 billion by 2025. This (projected) explosive growth can largely be attributed to strong appetite from VC investors and the eagerness with which startups are exploring the potential of this technology; since 2000, investment into AI startups has grown six-fold.
So, when it comes to the electronics manufacturing industry, here are some ways that AI and machine learning (ML) technologies are transforming the sector…
Topping the list of priorities for most organizations is the desire to boost productivity and reduce costs. That’s where AI comes in – according to a new report from Infosys, the majority of companies in the manufacturing sector want to automate manufacturing to increase productivity (66%).
This is not to suggest that employees will become obsolete; in fact, AI has the power to enhance and extend the capabilities of humans, making people better at their jobs, while at the same time helping businesses achieve more, faster, and more efficiently.
AI reduces the need for professionals within the electronics manufacturing industry to engage in tedious and time-consuming tasks, instead entrusting these to autonomous AI solutions. It’s no surprise then that 92% of senior manufacturing executives polled for the Manufacturer’s Annual Manufacturing Report 2018 believe that digital technologies like AI will enable them to drive down production costs and empower staff to work smarter.
Take the technology currently being developed by startup JITX, which is building AI as part of a move to take the tedious complexity out of designing circuit boards. Ultimately, it aims to design optimized circuit boards in a matter of hours instead of weeks, thereby allowing engineers to take on a more supervisory role.
Automated quality control and fewer errors
Overseeing the quality of a product from inception to finish can be a source of significant stress shared by many organizations. Luckily, AI is here to lend a virtual helping hand to improve the speed and efficiency by which projects can be effectively and efficiently managed.
AI systems give organizations unparalleled ability to monitor vast amounts of data from different sources, helping them keep tabs on a product’s progression in real-time. So instead of relying on humans for inspection and quality control, companies like Instrumental.ai utilize cameras powered by computer vision algorithms to spot defects immediately and identify root causes of failure.
While small defects can easily be overseen by a human, AI solutions are primed to pick up on these subtle inefficiencies. Moreover, as the capabilities of these technologies grow, algorithms are becoming increasingly more effective at anticipating likely failures; by collecting reams of performance data, they are able to offer predictive analysis and insight into future performance.
In fact, the aforementioned report from Infosys found that minimizing errors was high on the list of reasons why companies are keen to explore AI – 61% of respondents viewed this as a motivating factor. The ability of this innovation to improve the overall accuracy of the manufacturing process means we’ll certainly be seeing more companies turning towards AI to boost their performance.
What can we expect from the future of AI
While AI is arguably still in its infancy, there’s no denying that it’s already having a transformative impact on many of the industries that have welcomed its potential. As innovation speeds up in the electronics manufacturing sector and more businesses experiment with emerging AI solutions, these tools will undoubtedly become more mainstream and fundamentally change the way electronics products are designed and produced
Nikolas Kairinos is the CEO and Founder of Fountech.ai – a company specializing in the development and delivery of intelligent AI solutions for businesses and organizations. Nikolas also has over 20 years’ experience supporting software startups around the world as an entrepreneur, investor and advisor, and has also co-founded numerous AI companies.