Thought Leadership

Applying AI to industry part 1

By Spencer Acain

As manufacturing and production industries, such as power, automotive, aerospace, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, chemical and oil and gas, become increasingly automated, AI is likely to become more pervasive in the factories of the future then it is today. According to a report by IoT Analytics, by 2026, 80 billion Euros is forecast to be the global market of industrial AI. Already in 2021, product design, quality inspection and process optimization were the top use cases for industrial AI taking on important roles previously limited to humans. This isn’t a far-flung future either, the AI transformation is happening today all across the globe.

Bringing AI into industry

The transformation isn’t happening just in factories either. On the design side, AI is being used to simplify complex CAD and simulation software so that it is faster and easier to use, increasing the productivity of design engineers and opening more space for innovation. With the continued push for digitalization in combination with AI data analytics, cloud services, automation systems and even tools themselves are becoming smarter and more efficient. This also allows for new forms of connectivity between isolated domains, such as automation systems embedded with AI enabling real-time integration between a PLC and AI’s data analytics capabilities.

Because all the devices are connected, and many more are including sensors, a huge amount of data is generated in an industrial operation. Even before the introduction of AI, intelligent analytics to manage and make effective use of all this data were in the works. AI can speed up this process by helping to convert mountains of data into insights that can be used to predict equipment failures and prevent machine downtime. AI allows automation systems to not just act on programmed instructions; it also allows them to sense, analyze, report and act in ways that provide further insight and greater optimization on the inside and outside of a factory in a closed-loop feedback system.

Even as AI is still getting its feet wet, industrial automation is advancing quickly with the greatest power to transform manufacturing, bringing the digital and real worlds together on the factory floor. At a basic level, automation can be used to eliminate mundane and repetitive tasks, both on the shop floor and the drafting table. At an advanced level, empowered by connectivity and AI, automation will bring higher levels of speed, accuracy and consistency than humans can alone. This is a fundamental shift in automation from humans managing and analyzing data to machines consuming data and delivering optimal insights.

AI as an assistant

AI cannot replace human workers in production. Rather, AI applications and services can be used as a supplementary function for a fruitful collaboration of humans and machines. Regardless of people’s fears that society will be run by AI, the world is run by people; and never forget that people are behind AI for better or worse.

The main advantage to industrial-grade AI for design, development and manufacturing is that it gives people better tools they need to do their jobs safely and effectively. Work for people could be less boring, allowing more time for creativity and innovation. Business is made up of thinking, feeling and creative people and they can do what a machine cannot do, which means employees take precedence whenever and wherever there is a need for creativity, control, specialized application, training, verification or troubleshooting.

The changing landscape of industry

The design and manufacturing industry is poised to take the next step forward as digitalization efforts continue to gain traction throughout the world. With a digital first approach built on massive volumes of data, AI will play an ever increasing role in product design, testing, and manufacturing to leverage all that information to the fullest extent. Building industrial grade AI solutions will become a key part of the digital transformation journey going forward with AI taking on roles and building connections in ways traditional machines and humans simply cannot.

Siemens Digital Industries Software helps organizations of all sizes digitally transform using software, hardware and services from the Siemens Xcelerator business platform. Siemens’ software and the comprehensive digital twin enable companies to optimize their design, engineering and manufacturing processes to turn today’s ideas into the sustainable products of the future. From chips to entire systems, from product to process, across all industries. Siemens Digital Industries Software – Accelerating transformation.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at