©Michael Hechtel / FAU
Automation robot at the SPS trade fair in Nuremberg
Both German and Japanese employees and business owners often ask us how artificial intelligence can benefit their companies and support work processes. Given that there are three main options for using AI, we usually first enquire what the business owners actually want to achieve.
Option 1: Using AI to improve products
Companies can use AI to improve their products, such as medical devices or production parts. The advantage of this option is that it saves time and resources. AI can also be used in completely new and strategically important ways. For example, numerous medical institutes are already using AI for diagnostics of diseases, such as cancer, or skin lesions.
This allows physicians to reduce diagnosis times and costs they would otherwise incur through more expensive procedures. Another topic, which we all consider more important today than ever before and which is also accelerated by AI, is the development of new vaccines. AI can process an enormous amount of data to evaluate the effectiveness of possible substance combinations. This information can then be used to develop new drugs. This is how researchers are currently using AI to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
Option 2: Using AI to improve processes
Companies can use AI to improve internal processes of their departments. In manufacturing, robots can relieve staff of hard and complex steps in order to reduce occupational diseases, such as spinal and respiratory disorders.
Regardless of additional robots, the manufacturing facilities can also be equipped with intelligent components – think sensors and actuators. Occupational health and safety must be observed at all times to prevent manufacturing staff from suffering injuries or electric shocks.
AI also creates completely new opportunities for quality management and manufacturing efficiency. Smart computers help to accelerate the evaluation and adaptation of certain parameters significantly while image analyses and neural learning continuously increase quality. By employing AI, companies can expect an increase in productivity of up to 40%.
Option 3: Using AI to improve services
Companies can use AI to optimize various services. It is common knowledge that services are almost exclusively provided by humans. However, revolutionizing services might require AI to replace people, but this would be an exception. The main objective in the service industry is for AI to support people and not to replace them.
Call centres and online shops
Classic customer service is already trying to improve by using AI. If implemented well, chatbots and voicebots can handle a certain amount of call centre requests and help customers with their problems. AI can avoid endless holding queues, significantly easing the pressure on call centres in large companies and providing quick customer support. This is why 38% of all companies believe that KI will enhance customer service permanently. Special problems will of course still need to be resolved by people who are experts when it comes to the product in question.
Another example is the hugely successful online marketplace Amazon. It is not only the call centres but the entire company's operations – from warehousing and distribution to product recommendations and communication with voice assistants – that are based on AI. AI helps make it possible to provide and constantly improve this type of services.
Highest added value at minimal effort
Apart from the scenarios mentioned above, AI can influence the way we do business in myriad ways. It can make our lives easier – and admittedly sometimes harder. At MEJOIN, we strive to find ideal opportunities for companies to implement AI in their businesses so that they can achieve the highest added value with the least amount of effort and at the lowest cost. Obviously, AI is not the be-all and end-all yet. However, many trends have already made more headway than expected.
Now that you have learned about possible ways of using AI in business, our next article features information on the opportunities AI holds for our private lives to create smart homes.
Michael Hechtel, M. Sc.
Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU)
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Institute for Factory Automation and Production Systems (FAPS)