Learning about AI in Automation - An imperative in the Post Pandemic World
They say a rolling stone gathers no moss. True, but that rolling stone gathers everything else, but the moss would be the more apt way of putting it. Let us take the example of an automobile since it is something that is constantly rolling. An automobile rolls of the assembly line and thereby hangs a tale as the bard would have put it. From the time it rolls off the assembly line, let us trace what all it collects other than moss during the process. The journey from the plant to the dealership is dependent on multi modal transport. Truck, Train, Ship, Aircraft, and most likely truck again for last mile. As you can imagine, dents, scratches, paint peels, dust, gouges, and broken parts/equipment are par for the course when so many players and modes are involved in the process of transportation. Therefore, the automobile must be repaired, detailed, accessorized and pre-delivery inspections done before being handed over to dealership. The same automobile in the aftermarket also has a number of inspections being carried out every year during the time it is rolling on or off the road depending on the type of automobile. Let’s look at that as well:
b. Road worthiness
d. Insurance carrier switch
e. Mortgage carrier switch
f. Usage based (Check out/in) inspection in the case of fleets or mobility services
So, an automobile goes through at the very least two instances of inspections per year in the aftermarket as well. Did I mention that the whole process of assessing defect/damage during the time the automobile is assembled, rolls off the line, moves through the logistics chain and every subsequent touch point in the aftermarket is human intensive and therefore highly subjective and error prone? So, what happened for all this to take centre stage now? The
obvious; a pandemic and the associated disruption and the realization that human beings are not particularly good at doing certain tasks. Humans are intrinsically subjective because of the bias caused by one's perception, emotions, or imagination. A simple illustration would be the difference in depth understanding of two humans looking at a two cm deep dent on an
automobile standing at a 15-degree and 30-degree angle. Further fatigue, limitations of our senses (sight, hearing, touch and others), limitations of speed, degrading faculties as we age, and associated factors make humans a bad choice to make decisions in the quality process.
Now imagine this scenario, all panels that make up the automobile are inspected in real time by an AI powered robot as it is delivered from the supplier at plant. Once approved, the panels are affixed along with all the other parts and at another QC station a robot inspects the under body and the final finished automobile, stamps a QC passed sticker and moves it on for delivery to a Finished Vehicle Logistics (FVL) partner. The FVL partner uses an AI powered drive through kiosk to ensure that what he has taken delivery of is in pristine condition. These kiosks are used to create a visual trail across the multi modal logistics chain. This enables a track and trace mechanism and helps in pinpointing responsibility and liability. Here, as you would have noticed I have talked about some hardware esp. the use of robot driven AI and
the use of kiosks. The reason is because of the throughput speed needed to manage huge volumes and a higher precision on the level on defect and damage and thereby enabling remedial action planning and implementation.
In the aftermarket space, imagine if your service technician, your insurance loss assessor/surveyor or used car valuer had a system which enabled them to quickly check on damage and assist you with recommending parts repair/replacement, settle a claim immediately or provide a valuation of a car you want to trade in? Better still would be a scenario where are you given the power to do self-inspections and decide for yourself right? All of this is of course possible with AI automation enabled on your mobile devices. AI automation can place the customer at the centre of the quality ecosystem. Now replace automobile above with any product of your choice and see for yourself.
The FVL partner uses an AI powered drive through kiosk to ensure that what hehas taken delivery of is in pristine condition
The supply chain concept of “control tower” is a pertinent analogy here. It is a set of technology enabled processes that enable a track and trace mechanism from origin to delivery. It is today hampered by lack of a single platform or enabling tech that allows interoperability between the plethora of systems in the supply chain. An AI-driven control tower can not only instantly aggregate data but also connect it and expand it though predictive analytics and real-time data processing. These capabilities facilitate better decision making across all parts of the supply chain, leading to cost reductions, more efficient operations, and less waste. The end result in the case of the automotive industry to go back to our example would be the most comprehensive visual track and trace system and a comprehensive audit trail of each and every automobile through the product life cycle.