Hidden Realities of AI in Manufacturing: 5 Astonishing Truths That Will Transform Your Production Line

Published by:
Dipankar Ghosh
4th July 2024


The future of manufacturing is no longer about mere automation; it's about intelligence. Enter Artificial Intelligence (AI), a game-changer that promises to revolutionize manufacturing. AI is portrayed as the ultimate solution for enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, and improving quality in manufacturing processes. But beneath the glitz and glamour, there’s a reality about AI implementation that often goes unspoken.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore five critical truths about AI implementation in manufacturing that no one tells you. These truths debunk common myths and provide a realistic perspective on the challenges and strategies associated with integrating AI into your manufacturing operations.

1. Data Is NOT Easy to Come By????‍????

The Challenge of Quality Data

AI thrives on data – it’s the lifeblood of machine learning models. But here's the catch: not all data is created equal. High-quality, labeled data is essential for training effective AI systems. Manufacturers often struggle to gather sufficient data, particularly when it comes to anomalies like defective products. This data scarcity can stall AI initiatives.

Example: Imagine you're developing an AI system to identify defective products on a production line. To train this system, you need thousands of images of defective items. However, defects are often rare, making it hard to accumulate enough examples for robust training.

Cost and Time Implications

Labeling data is another bottleneck. It’s not just about collecting data but also annotating it, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Manual labeling is labor-intensive and requires expertise to ensure accuracy. Moreover, data privacy regulations add another layer of complexity, necessitating secure handling and storage of data.

Overcoming Data Challenges

To tackle these challenges:

  • Leverage synthetic data: Generate artificial data that mimics real-world scenarios.
  • Implement data augmentation: Enhance your existing data through techniques like rotation, cropping, and scaling.
  • Collaborate with domain experts: They can help identify relevant features and label data more effectively.

2. Hiring AI Experts Is a Nightmare????

The Talent Shortage

The demand for AI talent far exceeds the supply. Finding skilled AI professionals – data scientists, machine learning engineers, and AI specialists – is a significant hurdle. The market is fiercely competitive, and salaries for top talent can be exorbitant.

Example: A mid-sized manufacturing company looking to hire an AI engineer may find that the candidates are either overqualified (and thus too expensive) or lack the specific industry knowledge needed to be effective.

Skills Mismatch

Even when you find potential hires, there's often a skills mismatch. Many AI professionals are trained in academic or tech settings and may not understand the intricacies of manufacturing environments. They might excel in theoretical AI but struggle with practical application in a factory setting.

Strategies to Address the Talent Gap

  • Invest in training: Upskill your existing workforce with AI capabilities.
  • Partner with educational institutions: Collaborate with universities for internships and research projects.
  • Utilize AI-as-a-Service: Consider third-party solutions that provide AI expertise on a contract basis.

3. From Proof of Concept (PoC) to Production Is a Rough Ride????

The PoC Trap

A successful Proof of Concept (PoC) can be misleading. It demonstrates that AI can work in a controlled environment, but scaling it to production involves a different set of challenges. The transition from PoC to production is fraught with technical, logistical, and operational hurdles.

Example: An AI system for predictive maintenance might work perfectly in a PoC setting. However, scaling it across multiple machines and integrating it with existing systems can reveal unforeseen complications, such as compatibility issues and data integration problems.

Critical Factors for Successful Transition

  • Clearly defined goals: Ensure that the objectives of the AI implementation are well-articulated and aligned with business needs.
  • Realistic timelines: Avoid underestimating the time required for deployment and integration.
  • Robust infrastructure: Invest in the necessary infrastructure to support AI at scale, including data pipelines, processing power, and integration capabilities.

Mitigating PoC to Production Challenges

  • Incremental implementation: Roll out the AI system in phases to address issues gradually.
  • Continuous feedback loops: Establish mechanisms for continuous improvement based on real-world performance.
  • Cross-functional teams: Involve diverse expertise from IT, operations, and business to tackle various aspects of implementation.

4. AI Is NOT a Deploy-and-Forget Solution????????‍♂️

AI Requires Continuous Attention

Unlike traditional software, AI systems are dynamic and evolving. They require constant monitoring, updates, and retraining to remain effective. Data changes, environments evolve, and new challenges emerge, necessitating ongoing maintenance.

Example: An AI system for quality inspection might initially perform well but could degrade over time if it’s not updated to recognize new types of defects or changes in product design.

Key Maintenance Tasks

  • Data updates: Regularly update the datasets to reflect current conditions.
  • Model retraining: Periodically retrain models to adapt to new data patterns.
  • System monitoring: Continuously monitor system performance to identify and address issues promptly.

Building a Sustainable AI System

  • Automate monitoring: Implement automated tools for real-time monitoring and anomaly detection.
  • Establish governance: Create governance frameworks to manage AI models throughout their lifecycle.
  • Plan for evolution: Design AI systems with flexibility to accommodate future changes and expansions.

5. The Cloud Is NOT Always the Answer☁️

Challenges with Cloud Dependency

While the cloud offers numerous advantages for AI, including scalability and accessibility, it’s not always the ideal solution for every manufacturing environment. Issues like internet reliability, latency, and data security can make cloud-based AI impractical for real-time applications.

Example: In a remote factory with unreliable internet access, relying on cloud-based AI for real-time machine control could lead to latency issues, potentially disrupting production.

Edge Computing as an Alternative

Edge computing offers a viable alternative by processing data locally on devices rather than relying on the cloud. This approach reduces latency and dependency on internet connectivity, making it suitable for real-time decision-making in manufacturing.

Implementing Edge AI

  • Invest in robust hardware: Equip manufacturing machines with powerful processors capable of running AI models locally.
  • Develop edge-specific models: Design models optimized for edge deployment, focusing on efficiency and low latency.
  • Ensure seamless integration: Integrate edge AI with existing systems to enable smooth operation and data flow.


AI in manufacturing is transformative but not without its challenges. Understanding the realities of data collection, talent acquisition, PoC transition, system maintenance, and cloud dependency is crucial for successful AI implementation. By addressing these often-overlooked truths, manufacturers can navigate the complexities of AI adoption and unlock its full potential.

Are you ready to embrace the AI revolution? Share your experiences and strategies in the comment box below, and join the conversation on how to leverage AI for supercharging your manufacturing operations. ????

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Digi2O is your Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) Partner in India to profit from your connected machines. Connect with us for accelerating your IoT initiatives from Idea to Execution. Our solution-centric approach and flexible engagement models will help justify your IoT Investments.
2020 - All Rights Reserved, Digi2O

Designed by W3Squad

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram