Contact Us
en
    Use Cases for Machine Learning in Manufacturing
    Article

    Six Powerful Use Cases for Machine Learning in Manufacturing

    Artificial Intelligence is finding applications across a breadth of modern industries, a technological transition that’s now referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution—or Industry 4.0. This describes the current trend towards automation within the industrial manufacturing sector, and machine learning (ML) is a linchpin of this digital transformation. This article outlines how businesses can reap the powerful benefits of machine learning in manufacturing.

    What is machine learning?

    First, let’s define what we mean by machine learning and the various forms it can adopt. As a subset of artificial intelligence, machine learning is the process of training computers to think like human beings. This means giving them the inputs—i.e. vast quantities of real-world data—to develop their own autonomous “thought processes” over time. Machine learning is generally classified as supervised, unsupervised or semi-supervised and reinforcement learning. The two models commonly used within manufacturing are:

    Supervised machine learning

    Can be trained, using predefined criteria, to identify patterns in data. This is typically applied using one of two models:

    • Regression model - which analyses historical data sets to predict things like how long a machine component is likely to last, based on previous experience. This is known as the Remaining Useful Lifespan—or RUL.
    • Classification model – this type of model can predict the likelihood of a machine or component failure within a predefined period, as an example.

    Unsupervised machine learning

    Infers its own patterns from sets of data without any predefined outcomes and, therefore, can’t be trained in the same way as supervised learning. Common applications include:

    • Clustering - Creates clusters of different data points linked by certain attributes to identify patterns.
    • Anomaly detection - can identify unusual patterns within a dataset—i.e. fraudulent behaviour or, in manufacturing, faulty components.
    • Association mining - is typically used in retail to pinpoint sets of items that often occur together in a basket.
    • Latent variable models - generally used in data preprocessing—i.e. to reduce the number of points in a dataset.

     

    Six applications of machine learning in manufacturing

    In recent years, machine learning has become increasingly popular in different areas as a means of improving efficiency and productivity. The global machine learning market is expected to grow exponentially from $15.44 billion in 2021 to an impressive $209.91 billion by 2029. Businesses and organisations across all sectors seek to use this technology while it is still in its early stages.

    Machine learning solutions have been developed for various applications in the manufacturing industry, including data analytics, quality control, and others. Here are some of the top machine learning applications in manufacturing operations that are helping to revolutionise the sector.

    1. Predictive maintenance

    Predictive maintenance is one of the key use cases for ML in manufacturing because it can preempt the failure of vital machinery or components using algorithms. By analysing data from previous maintenance cycles, machine learning can identify patterns that can be used to predict equipment failures and when future maintenance will be needed. This information can then be used to schedule maintenance before problems occur. This, in turn, could save manufacturers significant time and money since it allows them to tackle specific issues exactly when needed—and in a highly focused way. This benefits manufacturers by:

    • significantly reducing planned and unplanned downtime and, thus, costs.
    • providing technicians with focused inspection, repair and tool requirements.
    • prolonging the remaining useful life (RUL) of machinery by preventing any secondary damage during repairs.
    • reducing the size of the technical team needed to make repairs.

    However, even with the best algorithm, predictive quality analytics will only be as effective as the data that is used to train it. In order to be successful, manufacturers must have a well-designed data collection strategy that captures all relevant information about their process.

    2. Predictive quality and yield

    As consumer demand grows in line with an expanding population, process-based losses are becoming harder for manufacturers to tolerate. AI and machine learning can enable businesses to get to the root cause of losses related to quality, yield, energy efficiency and so on, thereby protecting their bottom line and enabling them to remain competitive. It does so using continuous, multivariate analysis via process-tailored ML algorithms, and also through machine learning-enabled Root Cause Analysis (RCA).

    ML and AI-driven RCA, in particular, is a powerful tool for tackling process-based wastage and is far more effective than manual RCA for the following reasons:

    • With automated RCA, machine learning algorithms harness historical data models to identify patterns in new data and make predictions on where losses may be occurring—preempting issues ahead of time.
    • This method, over manual RCA, is entirely data-driven and completely unbiased.
    • It’s also unclouded by daily admin and other manual tasks performed by process experts, so the focus is purely on optimising processes.
    Machine Learning in Manufacturing

    3. Digital twins

    A digital twin—a real-time digital representation of a physical object or, indeed, a process—can be used by manufacturers to carry out instant diagnostics, evaluate production processes, and make performance predictions. But more than this, digital twins can help manufacturers revolutionise their engineering practices while offering full design, production and operational customisation. So, in other words, manufacturing companies can create a virtual representation of their products and processes, which can be used to test and optimise them before they are built. The benefits of ML-enabled digital twins in manufacturing include:

    • significant cost reductions
    • improved reliability of production lines
    • optimised performance and productivity
    • reduced risks on the shop floor
    • improved quality and full customisation
    • streamlined maintenance

    4. Generative design / smart manufacturing

    According to Reportlinker, the global smart manufacturing market is predicted to be worth $314 billion by 2026. AI and machine learning have the capability to create an almost infinite number of design solutions to match any problem/product based on preset factors like size, materials, weight, etc. This allows engineers to find the very best design solution for a product before it goes into production. Machine learning uses generator and discriminator models to:

    • create new designs for specified products
    • distinguish between generated and real products
    • train deep learning algorithms to recognise and define every possible design solution, thus optimising the design for a specified task
    • make the computer a “design partner.”

    5. Energy consumption forecasting

    Manufacturers can now use machine learning algorithms that process data on factors like temperature, lighting, activity levels within a facility and more to build predictive models of likely energy consumption in the future. Machine learning algorithms can analyse large data sets to identify patterns and relationships that would be difficult to find using traditional methods. They do this using:

    • Sequential data measurements.
    • Autoregressive data models that identify cyclical/seasonal trends - data scientists will often pair this approach with feature engineering, which turns raw and unordered data into “features” for algorithms to define and build predictive analytics models on.
    • Deep neural networks - which can process vast quantities of data and rapidly identify patterns.

    Forecasting energy consumption is important for manufacturing for a number of reasons. First, it can help factory owners and operators plan for future energy needs. This planning is essential to ensuring that factories have the necessary resources to meet production demands. Additionally, forecasting energy consumption can help factories avoid disruptions in production due to unexpected changes in energy costs or availability.

    6. Cognitive supply chain management

    With the proliferation of IIoT technologies, it’s only a matter of time before smart supply chains completely redefine how manufacturers carry out their operations. Automation is the first rung on the ladder, but soon entire supply chains could be “cognitive”. This means that they can use AI and machine learning algorithms to perform automatic analysis of datasets, including inbound and outbound shipments, inventory, consumer preferences, market trends, and even weather forecasts for predicting optimal shipping conditions. Key areas enhanced by cognitive supply chain management will be:

    • Warehouse control - stock control facilitated by deep learning-based computer vision systems, enabling the rapid replenishment of supplies.
    • Demand forecasting - the analysis of customer behaviours and preferences using time series analysis, feature engineering, and NLP techniques.
    • Logistics route optimisation - manufacturers can review and allocate the most optimal routes for shipping goods using machine learning algorithms.
    • Transport optimisation - assessing impacts on shipments and deliverables using machine and deep learning algorithms to optimise transportation solutions.
    Machine Learning in Manufacturing

    Benefits of machine learning for manufacturing

    The potential benefits of ML within the sector are huge, and a trusted technology partner can help you seize them to the fullest. Businesses looking to implement machine learning models often partner with experienced vendors to bring onboard smart development teams with data science expertise and corresponding domain knowledge. Some of the most compelling reasons to employ machine learning and artificial intelligence within manufacturing are:

    • Significant process-driven loss reductions.
    • Cost reductions driven by predictive maintenance.
    • Consumer-driven product creation thanks to smart factories.
    • Boost in capacity through process optimisation.
    • Ability to scale product lines by streamlining and optimising processes.
    • More efficient inventory management by using predictive analytics.
    • Extended life of machinery and equipment via Predicting Remaining Useful Life (RUL).
    • Better supply chain management.
    • Enhanced quality control.
    • Improved safety conditions on the manufacturing floor with the help of deep learning techniques implementation.

    By harnessing the power of data, machine learning can help factories optimise the entire production process and reduce wastage. In the future, machine learning will play an even bigger role in the manufacturing industry, as it continues to evolve and become more sophisticated.

    Ready to revolutionise your manufacturing business with AI and ML? ELEKS Data Science Platform can help you realise your vision. Get in touch with us to learn more!

    Have a question?
    Speak to an expert
    Contact Us
    • We need your name to know how to address you
    • We need your phone number to reach you with response to your request
    • We need your country of business to know from what office to contact you
    • We need your company name to know your background and how we can use our experience to help you
    • Accepted file types: jpg, gif, png, pdf, doc, docx, xls, xlsx, ppt, pptx, Max. file size: 10 MB.
    (jpg, gif, png, pdf, doc, docx, xls, xlsx, ppt, pptx, PNG)

    We will add your info to our CRM for contacting you regarding your request. For more info please consult our privacy policy
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

    The breadth of knowledge and understanding that ELEKS has within its walls allows us to leverage that expertise to make superior deliverables for our customers. When you work with ELEKS, you are working with the top 1% of the aptitude and engineering excellence of the whole country.

    sam fleming
    Sam Fleming
    President, Fleming-AOD

    Right from the start, we really liked ELEKS’ commitment and engagement. They came to us with their best people to try to understand our context, our business idea, and developed the first prototype with us. They were very professional and very customer oriented. I think, without ELEKS it probably would not have been possible to have such a successful product in such a short period of time.

    Caroline Aumeran
    Caroline Aumeran
    Head of Product Development, appygas

    ELEKS has been involved in the development of a number of our consumer-facing websites and mobile applications that allow our customers to easily track their shipments, get the information they need as well as stay in touch with us. We’ve appreciated the level of ELEKS’ expertise, responsiveness and attention to details.

    Samer Awajan
    Samer Awajan
    CTO, Aramex