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Is artificial intelligence (AI) right for your company?

Simply put, artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence demonstrated by machines, as opposed to the natural intelligence displayed by people. Many company execs, we suspect, have a great deal of skepticism about AI, especially small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) manufacturers.

Several of the most frequently asked questions about AI include:

  1. How would I use AI?

  2. Is there a bottom-line advantage of using AI?

  3. Can I afford it?

  4. Where would I get it?

For SMEs, AI can provide greater efficiencies, lower costs, improve technology, reduce downtime and other benefits.

The most prevalent uses of AI are:

  • Industrial automation is the most frequently reported use.

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) was second, followed by inventory planning/logistics and production scheduling.

According to a recent webinar report by the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), “AI projects improved equipment uptime, increased quality and throughput, and reduced scrap.”

The webinar report went on to describe five areas where AI creates a significant financial impact for SME manufacturers.

  1. Predictive Maintenance. Predict how a machine will behave under a future payload, whether you’ll need to fix it, when why and how.

  2. Predictive Quality. Predicting and reducing failures may give you greater cost savings.

  3. Scrap Reduction. Using metrics to predict behavior across product specs can minimize scrap and maximize product quality.

  4. Increase Yield. Predicting if and when a machine or process no longer meets given specs allows you to proactively do what’s needed to bring it back into specs.

  5. Demand & Inventory Forecasting. With AI presenting an understanding of plant operations and data behind production, you may be able to forecast demand and movement of critical parts, resulting in greater inventory savings.

For more information, go to to learn about uses and AI software providers.

In this issue of, we feature two entirely different SMEs and how they use AI.


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