Artificial Intelligence: the Key Step for Industry 4.0Fri, 09/01/2017 - 13:42
The fourth industrial revolution is based on two fundamental ideas. The first is that systems must be capable of interconnecting and sharing data on all the company’s operations. Though this is a new idea, it has permeated the industry and most technology players are improving data collection and systems’ connectivity in preparation. The second aspect, however, is still a work in progress. Once companies can gather information efficiently, it must be analyzed in a way that supports automatic decision-making.
Although startups are more frequently driving technology innovation, Mexican companies are rarely participants in this trend. Alturin is using an attractive value proposition for all manufacturing players to try to change the mindset of Mexican companies toward accepting artificial intelligence. Eduardo Arizpe, CEO of Alturin, explains that his system is based on mathematic algorithms that take equipment past simple automation. The goal is for machines to learn based on their environment and make decisions on their own. “The platform works in a similar way to Spotify,” he says. “The recommendations users receive on Spotify are based on their playlists and favorite artists. This information is handled by a mathematical algorithm that analyzes data and generates specific results for each profile, much like Alturin’s solution.”
In manufacturing operations, artificial intelligence can help companies generate optimal production routes without spending on an employee who manually tracks each step of the process. “Our software can be directly linked to ERP solutions. These platforms are key sources of data, the most important factor in artificial intelligence,” says Arizpe.
Harriet Green, General Manager of IBM’s internet of Things, Commerce and Education businesses, reports that almost 90 percent of the information currently gathered through internet of Things applications is unused. Until the linkage exists, Industry 4.0 will not become a reality. Moving a step further in transforming the industry, Alturin’s system compares key characteristics of new products to the historical data of every other component the company ever manufactured. That way, it can detect how to make the production process much more efficient. Route optimization is essential when starting new processes because it helps managers avoid downtime and relocate resources to balance workload and available resources.
Even though process optimization is not new, Alturin’s value proposition is modern. The company offers a consulting service that is personalized to each client, so it can adapt artificial intelligence to the company’s needs. “Clients receive a unique solution depending on which variables must be analyzed,” Arizpe adds. Alturin works with three companies in the manufacturing sector and is designing a solution specifically for the automotive industry. “Our biggest opportunity is with OEMs because securing this type of client would catalyze our operations.”
Although his focus is on manufacturing, Arizpe sees big opportunities for Alturin’s software in data analysis for sales and service applications. He believes vehicles would benefit from being equipped with sensors that compile data on driving practices. The software could then build maintenance schedules based on the data. “This would be a win-win for the client and the automaker,” he says. “The former would be sure the car will always receive maintenance at the right time and the latter would know the customer was satisfied.”
Until now, Alturin has operated only under its own capital and Arizpe wants to keep it that way for as long as possible. “We want to develop our technology before raising government or private funding.” The company has aggressive growth strategies and by 2020, Arizpe expects Alturin to be a strong player servicing local companies and other players in the US and Latin America. Particularly after the threats President Trump made against Mexican manufacturing, Arizpe sees R&D as a priority for the Mexican industry, as well as technology integration into all manufacturing activities.
The company has had considerable success in the market and its only limitation is the size of its workforce. Six companies have requested a personalized solution but the CEO says Alturin cannot handle the additional workload. “Once we can increase and train our team, we expect to sign five or six clients by the end of 2017,” he says.