Artificial Intelligence is beginning to get a lot of attention, and if all you know about AI comes from social media, you likely don’t realize just how crucial it’s becoming in the business and manufacturing world. Ben Machine has been taking advantage of AI for some time now in a variety of machining and fabricating areas. It has become crucial to some aspects of our manufacturing operations.
How We Employ AI
Artificial intelligence can do some things far better than people can. In some machining and programming processes, it’s simply that AI is faster than people. In others, AI can handle mundane tasks that would drive a normal person to tears with boredom. Then there are the manufacturing applications where AI can spot things people simply can’t.
Inspection and Reporting
A large part of our normal business is reporting on product inspections. Once a part is through CNC machining, it has to be inspected to ensure it meets all of the customer’s design specifications. This is especially critical for the very first part of a new CNC machining project. That first piece is run through the wringer using the First Article Inspection Report (FAIR). This process ensures all the dimensions and features of the piece are checked and confirmed. We have dedicated inspection reporting software that employs AI to bring the design files and recorded inspection data together. Artificial intelligence creates balloon diagrams and reports that make it very easy for us and the customer to review and confirm every detail of the part. Prior to AI, this process was considerably more time-consuming, the results were prone to error, and the reports were not as intuitive for everyone to read.
Records and Inventory -Mundane, But Vital
We have customers for whom we manage their CNC machined inventory. Their demands are quite volatile, shifting from week to week. AI helps us schedule our machining and sheet metal resources to meet their demands with little lead time so their inventory is ready for them when they need it, no matter what it is. We even extend these AI processes to assist our supply chain in managing their production to ensure our customers get high quality CNC machined and fabricated parts on time.
Our strict security requirements put pressure on us to keep both physical and digital records secure. To the extent that we can, we digitize physical records and destroy or secure the physical originals. This keeps our record-keeping as simplified as possible. We’re working with our sister company, Exchange Technology Services in Winnipeg, to develop an artificial intelligence-based system to securely scan paper documents, then “read” the contents and determine where the digital versions should be filed.
Keeping Us Secure
The CrowdStrike software which keeps our network secure uses AI to assess cyber threats. We use strict policies to protect information within our network, but artificial intelligence is crucial for keeping hackers out. Human beings aren’t fast enough at detecting breaches of security. Artificial intelligence can move faster in identifying something unusual, closing down our system before we even notice a problem. All of this allows us to keep our defence machining and sheet metal information safe and secure so that we can comply with Controlled Goods Program (“CGP”) regulations and International Trade in Arms (“ITAR”) regulations.
Into the Future
Worker productivity has increased 60% over the last 40 years, thanks to advances in technology. Computers, the Internet, and the digital world have allowed everyone to accomplish more. At the same time, these digital advances have created new jobs in new fields, providing people with more opportunities. There’s no sign that the trend is changing. Technology continues to advance, which is leading us now into the age of artificial intelligence. While it’s still early days, and there are machining areas AI isn’t ready to handle, there are areas in which AI outstrips anything people could do.
Ben Machine has been pleased with the results of our investments in artificial intelligence. We can focus on producing the finest CNC machined parts for our customers and worry less about the peripheral issues that used to slow us down.
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