The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in manufacturing is not an entirely new concept. In the past, AI has been used to automate production processes, allowing for faster production times and improved quality control. However, AI can also be used to create more sustainable solutions.

The use of AI in the manufacturing industry is becoming increasingly important as companies strive to become more sustainable. And with 46% of companies worldwide requiring business partners to meet specific sustainability criteria, the pressure is on for manufacturers to find new ways to reduce waste and carbon emissions. 

In this blog post, we will discuss ways that AI can be used to improve the efficiency of production processes, reduce waste, and reduce energy consumption.

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How AI In Manufacturing Improves Sustainability

The core principles of sustainable manufacturing are to:

  • Ensure efficient use of resources
  • Minimize waste
  • Reduce energy consumption
  • Prevent equipment faults that can cause dangerous emissions or production delays.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can not only improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your manufacturing company, but it can also promote sustainable practices. As AI learns production methods, it will be able to suggest and eventually implement adjustments that will allow greater efficiency while using less energy and creating less waste.

1. Reducing Waste

Manufacturing waste makes up about 50% of all waste generated globally and that number is estimated to increase as the population grows. 

Consider food or pharmaceuticals that expired because they didn’t reach their destination in time. Think of consumer goods that were discarded because of overproduction. These are problems that AI aims to solve.

With AI-driven consumer analysis, retailers can transition from reactive to proactive demand planning. This kind of accuracy in demand forecasting helps to optimize supply chain operations and reduce waste. In fact, companies like H&M are already using AI to create fewer emissions, produce less waste, and use fewer resources.

Improved Quality Control

Returned merchandise almost always represents a massive waste. In 2022 alone, returned merchandise produced approximately 9.5 billion pounds of landfill waste

There are several reasons why consumers return merchandise, but damaged or defective items are by and large the biggest, accounting for over 80 percent of returns. The obvious solution is for brands and manufacturers to place more emphasis on quality control and defect prevention.

With automated visual inspection methods and fault detection, it is estimated that manufacturers can increase defect detection rates by up to 90 percent. This is because AI can often pick up microscopic errors and irregularities that most humans cannot.

3. Reducing Energy Consumption

Factories and commercial buildings consume between 40 and 55 percent of all electricity generated globally. And, shockingly, most of that energy goes to waste. But wasted on what, exactly?

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and lighting equipment are some of the biggest consumers of energy in industrial facilities, and most of these systems do not operate efficiently. But with AI, factory engineers can optimize these systems for clarity by accounting for factors such as building layout, occupancy patterns, and external conditions to control energy consumption.

The Beginning of AI in Manufacturing

The use of AI in manufacturing is still in the early stages and we are only beginning to understand how we can use this technology to support sustainability goals. However, it is easy to see the potentials it holds for solving some of our most complex problems.

To keep up with the latest trends and developments in manufacturing and quality control, sign up for the InTouch newsletter today. And if you are interested in Sustainability or AI in your supply chain, get in touch with our team of experts and we’ll help you get started. 

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