BUSINESS TECH | The importance of AI, ML for transforming industrial operations

Artificial intelligence and its intersection with human insights are critical to business efficiency and sustainability in the post-pandemic era.

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Global industrial software provider, Aveva, which is driving digital transformation and sustainability, stressed how the role of the ‘Connected Worker’ will be instrumental in enabling digital solutions to optimise business returns in a post-pandemic world.

Now more than ever, keeping frontline industrial workers safe, while at the same time ensuring business continuity and operational resilience, is vital. For example, Connected Worker technology is helping many Aveva customers maintain their critical operations and keep workers safe, while in parallel saving businesses time and money. Those that haven’t digitised their operations will struggle as they face the demand for social distancing and remote work brought on by the pandemic.

According to Kim Custeau, Aveva’s head of Asset Performance Management, the business drivers for digital transformation have evolved considerably since the onset of the pandemic a year ago.

“With remote teams requiring better context to supervise operations, collaborate and make decisions, there is a heightened need for better visualisation and contextual analysis of operating information across the enterprise,” said Custeau. “Cloud, industrial IoT, Artificial Intelligence, (AI ) and data & analytics will drive real-time business outcomes such as efficiency, availability, sustainability and profitability.”

The connected worker

The implementation of AI and machine learning (ML) in industrial operations alone will not transform businesses and so it is imperative that enterprises empower their people to help drive operational improvements in reliability, availability, consistency, and sustainability. The connected workforce is now becoming the agent of change. As operations become more and more autonomous, ensuring the reliability and safe operation of critical assets with minimal supervision is vital.

Personnel on the shop floor and in the field will need more guidance and aids, as deep expertise becomes scarce. Advanced machines are developing core competencies around human needs. ‘The ‘Connected Worker’s’ focus today, is on considering the needs of the human behind the ‘working asset’ and this has grown to become part of the engaged workforce that will attain the true full value potential of digital transformation programs.

AI-infused solutions

“As companies turn to AI across every operational task and process, then inference, prediction, guidance and adaptation to dynamic conditions become imperatives. Aveva is already infusing AI into every aspect of our portfolio,” Custeau said. “These capabilities combine to create a holistic ‘digital twin’ – which maps comprehensive physical and behavioral attributes of assets – to simulate, evaluate, predict and prescribe.”

Aveva’s digital twin solution provides data discovery and navigation through an intuitive web-based user interface with built in 1D, 2D and 3D visualisation. The technology also delivers in-depth asset information which greatly enhances decision-making, allowing anyone across the business to view data about the asset in the context of the physical asset itself and its connectivity in the plant.

According to Custeau, industrial IOT has created the opportunity to access unprecedented amounts of data from connected assets. With improvements in connectivity and data security, historical barriers are being lowered and the advantages of cloud deployments are being realized. “It is the visual and human aspects of AI that will drive the industrial software revolution. The Digital Twin and Connected Worker will accelerate time to value, and the significant benefits of Cloud and AI are becoming a reality.”

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