The manufacturing industry is undergoing a significant transformation as advancements in technology continue to reshape the landscape. While the industry faces a skills gap and a potential shortage of workers, there is a growing demand for professionals who possess the right skills to navigate this new era of manufacturing.
According to a report by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, nearly 2.1 million job openings in the United States may go unfilled by 2030. Additionally, a Visual Components report revealed that 46 percent of manufacturing decision-makers surveyed failed to invest in training programs for their staff.
However, the slow adaptation of cutting-edge technology in manufacturing processes may be contributing to the lack of investment in training. Artem Krouepenev, vice president of strategy at Augury, a company specializing in AI-driven production optimization, explains that the physical environment of manufacturing poses unique challenges when integrating technology.
As companies bring their manufacturing operations back to the U.S. from overseas, labor costs and the transfer of knowledge from retiring workers have become significant obstacles. Salesforce’s Generative AI Snapshot Research Series found that 66 percent of respondents felt their employees lacked the necessary skills to implement generative AI successfully.
To prepare for the advancements in autonomy and generative AI, technologists must acquire the right skills. Krouepenev highlights that white-collar manufacturing jobs that involve data analysis and engineering are being transformed by AI at a faster rate than manual tasks.
Training becomes essential to digitize machinery and enable employees to utilize software effectively, according to Vignesh Ravikumar, a partner at Sierra Ventures. The demand for digitizing the factory floor is high, but many employees lack the necessary training to maximize its potential.
One area of opportunity is using generative AI as a copilot or adviser to gain insights into machine operations and inform production decisions. Krouepenev emphasizes the importance of understanding the various personas within generative AI and prompt engineering. These skills allow professionals to harness the power of AI to make informed business-level decisions.
Additionally, hands-on experimentation is crucial for technologists to gain a deeper understanding of AI in manufacturing. Creating test environments specific to their industry allows professionals to explore the implementation of robotics and AI software. Learning how computer vision works can also help in programming robots in a factory setting.
While courses in generative AI are available, the fast-paced nature of AI development means that skills can quickly become outdated. Krouepenev suggests pursuing courses from reputable platforms like Coursera, edX, or LinkedIn Learning to establish a strong foundation. Hands-on experimentation is also essential to stay ahead of the curve.
The accessibility of AI is expanding, with tools and platforms readily available for experimentation. This allows engineers without an extensive background in AI to integrate these technologies seamlessly into their products.
As the manufacturing industry continues to evolve, AI will undoubtedly play a central role in driving innovation and efficiency. By acquiring the right skills and embracing AI as a catalyst for change, technologists can position themselves at the forefront of this transformative industry.
What is generative AI?
Generative AI refers to the ability of AI systems to create and generate new content, such as images, text, or even entire songs, based on patterns and examples it has learned.
How can AI be integrated into manufacturing processes?
AI can be integrated into manufacturing processes through the digitization of machinery, utilization of generative AI for insights on machine health, and the programming of robots using computer vision technology.
Where can I learn the skills needed for AI in manufacturing?
Online platforms such as Coursera, edX, and LinkedIn Learning offer courses on generative AI and other relevant skills for manufacturing. Additionally, hands-on experimentation and creating test environments specific to your industry can enhance your understanding of AI in manufacturing.