Artificial intelligence on the rise: Automation advancing fast

Artificial intelligence on the rise: Automation advancing fast
© Unsplash, User: Clint Adair

Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly finding its way into every corner of our professional and private lives. In most cases, we don’t even recognize AI when we encounter it. Whether on our phones, PCs and tablets or even in the production of the milk we drink, AI is almost always working in the background.

All AI systems are based on “deep learning,” in which algorithms process and condense big data to provide answers to questions we might never have even thought to ask. In-depth insights into even the smallest fraction of the digital universe all around us require intensive analysis of complex material and the ways in which different pieces of information can be linked: AI makes this possible.

AI in process optimization

In some areas of process technology, life without AI has become unimaginable. Siemens, for example, has already developed a system that “learns” from the operating status of machinery and other data to improve equipment’s operating condition, extend the lifespan of critical components and develop data-based predictive maintenance plans. Its name, “MindSphere,” gives a clue to what is behind this technology and its potential for preserving resources and boosting productivity.

Technology suppliers, such as Tetra Pak and GEA, use AI components in predictive service management too – although human brains still perform the analysis. In fact, automation is not a true playground for AI, as processes are designed to be uniform and comparable. Moreover, AI would not be the right approach to compensating for volatility, such as reacting to the varying quality of raw materials.

What the future might bring…

In other areas, AI has already been successfully integrated. Trend reporting shows that research and development is currently concentrating on several areas such as: robotic process automation, where software automates time-consuming and expensive business processes; cyber-physical systems linking AI with the physical world; and data mining and predictive analytics that uncover new trends and discoveries. It will be exciting to see how digitalization and the innovation it supports find their way into industrial milk processing.

A look further afield shows that AI is making inroads far away from traditionally technology-dominated fields. One example is in marketing: According to Selligent, 70% of marketing decision-makers are already working with AI technologies. KRC Research reports that 55% of marketing directors are convinced that AI is set to change the industry even more dramatically than social media.

…and what technologies are already with us today

AI is already used today in online shopping to provide recommendations. In customer service chatbots make processes faster and more cost-efficient. All manner of digital assistants and personalized search results, such as those produced by Google’s RankBrain, are just a couple of examples of the widespread use of AI.

Experts in human resources, for instance, have found it relatively easy to train a neural network with the free statistics software “R” and use it to predict how likely employees are to hand in their notice – reportedly with 87% accuracy.

The next drinktec trade fair, which is due to take place at the Munich trade fair site from September 13 to 17, 2021, is likely to focus on AI in process optimization. It will be exciting to see what innovations and technologies in the field of digitalization and AI are presented there.

Roland Sossna

The trained dairy expert, agricultural engineer and freelance journalist Roland Sossna is part of the editorial staff of the trade magazine molkerei-industrie (dairy industry) and IDM International Dairy Magazine. He regularly presents outstanding innovations from the dairy industry on the blog.