AI algorithms prevent faulty products, save time and cost

This editorial was first published in the August issue of the OEM Update Magazine

This editorial was first published in the August issue of the OEM Update Magazine

By Anil Kumar, Managing Director, Inovance Technology India

1. How does smart automation contribute to improving production efficiencies?

Smart automation plays a major role in improving efficiency by making use of the advanced technologies and smart systems that are increasingly widely available for businesses to streamline processes and boost productivity. One of the keyways in which smart automation systems can contribute towards production efficiencies in the manufacturing industry is the capacity to perform the same repetitive task with speed and absolute accuracy without taking a rest or requiring breaks at fixed intervals, as humans do. This approach increases production consistency, leading to high quality results in less time. Furthermore, smart manufacturing systems, such as resource management, can assist with real-time monitoring, and even deliver predictive maintenance through the use of IoT and AI technology to predict faults and equipment failures before they occur, significantly reducing machine downtime.

Easy Series PLC

Understanding the growing demand for smart automation, at Inovance we offer a wide range of automation products, from AC drives, servo drives and motors, industrial robots, PLCs, CNCs, and HMIs. Recently, we launched the new compact EtherCAT-enabled Easy Series PLC, which can control the simplest to the most complex motion control applications using EtherCAT and Ethernet/IP, and delivers easy programming, wiring, assembly, and commissioning. The Easy PLC series is designed in a simple yet effective way, supporting function block and encapsulation, code reusability, and scalability so that customers can achieve maximum efficiency. One important feature of this PLC is that it can be used widely in all complex automation solutions for the textile, packaging, and printing industries.

2. Please talk about smart automation developments in Indian manufacturing.

India has seen a major transformation after the Indian government launched its “Make in India” initiative in 2014, with the aim of transforming India into a global manufacturing hub. The Indian government's focus on initiatives like "Make in India" and the adoption of advanced technologies has fueled the growth of smart automation in manufacturing. In 2018, as part of the evolution of India’s national strategy, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Industry 4.0, with the intention of using smart manufacturing to transform the present and future of Indian manufacturing sectors. Gradually many smart technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, internet of things (IoT), blockchain, and big data have been developing in India, simplifying the whole process of manufacturing, from monitoring to operations.

IoT-WL135, Inovance's smart IoT device

3. What key technologies are used in smart automation for production processes?

Smart automation in production processes relies on several key technologies to optimize efficiency, enhance productivity and enable intelligent decision-making. One of these key technologies is the Internet of Things (IoT), which helps businesses monitor and control various aspects of production processes, such as machine performance, inventory levels and environmental conditions. Meanwhile, robotics can perform intensive tasks with absolute precision, speed and quality, resulting in overall improvements to productivity and efficiency. A further key technology is cyber security, which is an essential requirement when working with interconnected systems in smart manufacturing, protecting against potential risks such as data theft.

4. AI-powered algorithms detect defects with greater accuracy and speed to improve efficiency in manufacturing. Your views.

I think artificial intelligence systems detecting defects have the capacity to significantly improve quality control processes in manufacturing and help to enhance productivity, as they can analyze large volumes of data with high precision, detecting even minor defects that may be difficult for humans to identify. In this process, by identifying the defects in the early stage of production processes, AI algorithms can prevent businesses from producing detective or faulty products, which saves time and costs for manufacturers. To improve the efficiency and accuracy of Al-powered systems, you continuously train them through machine learning techniques in order to reap the full benefits. In this process, the AI-powered system comes with limitations, as the system detects faults entirely based on the training data and it can struggle to precisely identify complex or new defects. As a result, AI-powered algorithms require ongoing maintenance and effective fine tuning to give you the best result. My view is that combining human expertise with Al-powered algorithms is critical to improving quality in the manufacturing sector.

5. Can you provide examples of the implementation of smart automation in improving production efficiencies?

Inovance solutions have played a pivotal role in boosting the productivity and efficiency of several Indian manufacturers through our cutting-edge, innovative products. One notable recent success story: Inovance solutions boosted the productivity and efficiency of an Indian paper and plastic disposable product manufacturer through the use of our MS1 series servo motors. These advanced motors enabled the manufacturer to achieve high accuracy and increased speed in its production process. The effective control facilitated by EtherCAT communications played a crucial role in this success. Inovance's servo drives, motors and HMI provided excellent value, lowering production times and synchronizing performance. This success story represents Inovance’s commitment to revolutionizing manufacturing through innovative products and solutions.

MD520 high performance universal AC drive

Inovance recently launched the MD520 high-performance universal AC drive, which represents a significant advancement in motor control technology. This AC drive is designed to offer versatile and efficient motor control for both AC asynchronous and PM synchronous motors, making it a suitable choice for a wide range of industrial applications. The AC drive is built with a focus on reliability and durability. It is designed to withstand harsh industrial environments to help customers experience uninterrupted operation and reduced downtime. Inovance’s MD520 helps achieve energy efficiency in industrial processes, with these energy savings potentially leading to reduced operating costs and a more sustainable manufacturing operation.

6. What are the potential challenges when adopting smart automation in production processes?

As the use of smart automation in manufacturing processes is quite new, there are a few potential challenges in adapting to smart production, such as

  • Cost of implementation: For any company to implement a smart automation system it requires upfront investment and special training for employees to understand the operation and maintenance of the smart automation systems installed.
  • Flexibility and scalability: The system needs to adjust and change according to growing business and production needs, as well as market demands, which can include handling different products and production volumes. 
  • Security & Privacy: The smart automation system is dependent on collecting and analyzing precise sets of data, which can raise concerns about the safety of sensitive and confidential information stored in the system and the potential risk of data theft.
  • Workforce adaptation: The transition from traditional to smart automation will require employees to understand and adapt to smart automation processes. They also must learn new skills to work alongside the smart systems. Companies transitioning to smart automation should organise training programs and address other concerns of their employees to ensure the smooth functioning of their operations.

7. In what ways are Cobots transforming the manufacturing and production processes for SMEs?

Generally, there are some problems associated with traditional robots that may mean they are not suitable for SMEs, such as potentially taking a long time to install, being too expensive for small companies to purchase, or requiring internal expert knowledge to operate. In contrast, the emergent new generation of robots known as cobots are often highly suitable for SMEs, without any of these associated problems.

The main reason for cobots transforming manufacturing and production processes is that programming them is very easy. Many employ simple software people can program to their specific requirements, and it doesn’t require specialist knowledge. The unique feature about cobots is they are designed to work together with people. They are compact and mobile, which means they can work anytime and anywhere, fitting in easily with existing operations. With the help of cobots, people can perform creative, solution-oriented work, while the cobots can be programmed to do the hard, monotonous work, resulting in an improved work environment, better productivity, and higher quality work.