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Microsoft Industry Blogs – United Kingdom

As the cost of raw materials rises, the manufacturing industry is slowing down. In fact, recent research suggests that factory output is at a seven-month low[1]. If you’re looking for a way to speed things up for your business, the answer could be intelligent technology, also known as artificial intelligence (AI).

First things first. What comes to your mind when you think about AI? Complicated lines of code that have no application in the factories of today? An idea that’s hard to grasp, and even harder to turn into a reality?

If so, it’s time to rethink. AI isn’t as elusive or complicated as it may seem. Put simply, it’s intelligent technology that can be used to improve your business, transform productivity and increase your potential. And it’s attainable right now. AI is already helping businesses use their ingenuity to tackle manufacturing challenges.

Smarter processes

Mercedes-Benz has turned to AI to support their digital transformation. The brand runs a large-scale production plant in Brazil, where they manufacture a range of trucks and buses. The sheer size of the operation means the brand needs to be as smart, agile and streamlined as possible when it comes to all areas of business, including sales.

Thanks to Azure Machine Learning, the manufacturer has managed to revolutionise its sales process. The tool brings together internal and external data, including: registration numbers, macroeconomic indicators, local legislation, sales information and statistics. All this helps the brand’s salespeople make the right offer, to the right person, at the right time.

What’s more, thanks to AI, the system is becoming smarter over time. Dealers input data reports each month, which ensures the tool can make even better recommendations in the future. Now that’s intelligent.

“With AI insights, we will know which product segment to sell, to whom and when” – Ari Carvalho, Director of Sales and Marketing, Truck Division, Mercedes-Benz

Fleet management

One of the world’s most prominent manufacturing businesses, Rolls Royce, also offers fleet maintenance services to the airlines that use its products. As you can imagine, the brand works with a lot of planes – and a lot of data. So, we got on board to help make sense of it all and recommend the best approach.

Using Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite and Azure, the brand can now analyse a vast wealth of data. What’s more, it can pinpoint anomalies and perform data modelling at scale. All of this helps customers plan ahead.

A spokesperson for the business says, “Microsoft Cortana Intelligence capabilities are helping us filter the signal from the noise across large data sets, so we can focus on finding the real value in the data.”

Operations automation and predictive maintenance

Korea’s largest IT provider, LG CNS, works across a range of industries and is known for its cloud-based smart factory service. Essentially, this service helps manufacturers automate production and keep track of efficiency at the touch of a button.

To ensure the ongoing success of such a clever solution, it won’t come as a surprise that the brand needed some seriously smart technology to support its product.

We helped boost the capabilities of their smart factories, from production to management. The company now uses Azure DocumentDB and HDInsight to collect production histories, and Azure Machine Learning to keep factories running. The system can predict defects before they happen too. In addition, we developed and tested another system which may be used to boost efficiency for solar energy storage systems.

Feeling inspired?

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[1] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/01/uk-manufacturing-shows-signs-of-a-slowdown