Talking Artificial Intelligence, Robots and Data with ‘the Chamber’
The event was well-attended and focused on the impact of emerging technologies on industry, and in particular, the manufacturing sector.
Here’s a summary of the some of the things shared by keynote speakers Justin Levine of The NonExec, a former manufacturing industry CEO and now leader of a business that specialises in advising on commercial investment and M&A in the industrial sector, Gary Groves, National Sales Manager of leading industrial automation company Schneider Electric, and Paul Tansey, Managing Director of digital marketing agency Intergage Limited, former President of the Dorset Chamber and self-avowed technology nerd.
All the speakers agreed that Artificial Intelligence is a driving force for disruption in the industrial sector. The pace of change is accelerating faster than ever, more than at any previous point in history. The combination of multiple emerging technologies such as AI, 5G, robotic automation and Internet of Things is transforming industry and society in general. Businesses run an increasing risk of being left behind if they are not more proactive in understanding and deploying these technologies.
Justin Levine referenced a number of case studies, including the use of a deep learning algorithm by German e-commerce group Otto that analyses 3Bn historical transactions and 200 variables per transaction to predict with 90% accuracy what customers will order within the next 30 days.
Paul Tansey remarked that Artificial Intelligence is not a ‘single technology’. He explained it is a combination of technologies including machine learning, neural networks, natural language processing and computer vision. These technologies combine to fundamentally change how companies sell their products and services. Consumer sales jobs involved in selling simple products, or with repetitive tasks will likely become things of the past. Humans are already being replaced by chatbots and in the future will be replaced by intelligent online avatars and robots. Check out Soul Machines “Jamie” at ANZ Bank.
Robotics, connectivity and automation
China outstrips Western countries in the deployment of industrial robotics. Globally in 2015, the number of industrial robots per 10,000 manufacturing employees was 531. The forecast for 2019 in China is that this number will be around 160 robots per thousand employees. This is more than 5x the amount in other leading industrialised countries including USA, Germany, Japan and South Korea.
Wireless connectivity in factories brings a reduction in capital costs and significantly greater flexibility with factory space due to reducing hard-wired control and communications systems. New automated production methods including enhanced 3D printing reduce the time and costs to produce smaller batches of items from several hours to several minutes. Today Adidas’ SpeedFactory produces more than 500,000 pairs of customised sports shoes per year. The firm plans to move more than 20% of it’s global production to this method.
Energy and data
Gary from Schneider Electric outlined the threats and opportunities presented by the megatrends driving energy demands. Urbanisation, digitisation, connected things, and future growth in industrialisation will result in a 50% increase in energy consumption by 2050.
The world is becoming increasingly electric, and tapping into more distributed, renewable energy sources (e.g. Solar PV, battery storage) is key for future growth and prosperity. The ongoing development of wireless connectivity, cloud services and data analytics is crucial to manage these precious energy resources, particularly as manufacturing transitions from site specific to enterprise-wide.
So with all this in mind, you may be concerned about the impact on the employment market. According to DELL, 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030, have not been created yet. Consulting firm McKinsey estimates that 15% of jobs that exist today will not exist in 10 year’s time. Companies must embrace technological change or they will wither and die.
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