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From Assembly Line to AI: How Generative AI Is Transforming Manufacturing

Industrial Technology Concept.

Lately, new AI tools like ChatGPT have been so impressive that employees are clutching their purse strings. Not too long ago in human history, we were gaping in awe of the revolutionary assembly line and wondering if any of us would ever work again – but look at us now.

While there are certainly benefits to regulations and caution surrounding the unknown, it is not the first time nor the last time that the public will be afraid of the “next big thing.” For manufacturing companies, AI would greatly advance the way products are made and distributed. AI has been extremely successful so far for manufacturers, helping to gather and analyze data from sensors to predict breakdowns. Predictive tools that use AI help maintenance teams to deploy and fix issues more efficiently, decreasing downtime and making production more reliable and profitable.

Here are just a few of the amazing things generative AI is already transforming in manufacturing.

Boosting Engineering and Testing Roles

Product engineering teams spend their careers designing, building, and testing products before they go to market. This process is long and tedious, as there is everything from functionality and safety to ergonomic considerations to keep in mind. Manufacturing engineers are responsible for creating and maintaining the safest and most efficient processes for manufacturing those products while keeping costs down. Both roles could benefit greatly from generative AI, which helps create limitless design possibilities within minutes and test those designs virtually, helping these teams come up with the best products and processes in a fraction of the time.

A great example of this resource is the concept of “digital twins,” which creates a virtual model of a design that behaves exactly like its physical counterpart so that engineers can see how the physical object would behave in real life. The teams can then generate simulations of various events and environments to test that object before the physical object ever performs. This advancement drastically improves the safety of employees in manufacturing roles, too, as it allows them to know how equipment behaves before they are put in harm’s way.

Price Forecasting and Modeling

Dynamic pricing has been around for a while as a popular manufacturing trend, but generative AI advancements will put a new spin on how manufacturing companies can analyze data and respond in real time. Generative AI tools can forecast pricing according to supply chain, manufacturing processes, and other economic data, then model it in different scenarios with just a few clicks, enabling manufacturers to not only be more profitable through preparation but also through the ability to respond quickly to a change in circumstances.

Delivering Customer-Centric Experiences

Manufacturing has historically used a B2B customer approach, but leaders in the industry are now trending towards a direct-to-consumer (D2C) approach as it has shown to be more cost-effective and effective for increasing brand loyalty. By using a D2C approach, manufacturers can suddenly build deeper relationships with their end customers, but it must be done with excellent customer experiences.

Generative AI enables companies to build complex virtual assistants that tailor their responses and recommendations to each individual. Manufacturing companies can integrate their virtual assistants on their sites with their inventory and content management systems to boost sales and build loyalty.

Generative AI is also an important tool for improving call centers that handle warranties, returns, accounts, and other requests. These generative AI assistants can better understand what each caller needs and route them accurately and effectively to their requested resources. All of this can be done without hiring more people – in fact, it cuts down on workload significantly and, therefore, costs.

Generative AI Promises Endless Possibilities for Manufacturing

Sure, existing jobs could cease to exist in a sense. Manufacturers may not have employees manually rekeying information or performing laborious tasks, but that’s not the tragedy that many would make it out to be. Instead, employees have time and energy freed up to perform tasks more worthy of human intellect. We can allow space for big ideas, innovation, and organizing new processes that will improve production and profitability. We can allow AI to generate ideas and designs, forecast pricing, and handle customer relations, but it is us who have the final say.


If you want to learn how generative AI can be leveraged for your company, consider our CX AI jumpstart.

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Kevin Espinosa

Kevin Espinosa is a Director of Strategy & Innovation at Perficient. He has 33 years of experience at Caterpillar Inc, where he was the Digital Marketing Product Manager. He specializes in digital transformation, digital marketing, architecture strategy, platform selection, and brand/partner strategy.

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