Artificial intelligence gives auto manufacturing a boost

By Emily Newton
Automakers have hit a rough patch lately, but AI in car manufacturing can help the industry overcome these challenges and ensure future success

The auto industry has had a challenging couple of years. Demand is shifting, key components have been hard to get and workers are leaving the sector. Thankfully, AI in car manufacturing could provide a solution to all of these problems.

AI has been steadily rising in manufacturing — and after recent disruptions, it’ll likely grow even faster. Here’s a look at some of the ways this technology is improving auto manufacturing today and tomorrow.

Optimising Supply Chains

One of the most valuable benefits of AI in car manufacturing is its impact on supply chains. COVID-related disruptions have revealed how fragile many auto supply chains are, with parts like semiconductors seeing massive delays and shortages. AI can help prevent these disruptions by improving visibility.

AI algorithms can analyse factors like demand trends, weather and production volumes to predict when delays or shifts might occur. Manufacturers can then adapt to these incoming changes, minimising their impact. They could even use AI further to model various strategies and find the best one.

Companies that used AI in demand planning amid the pandemic saw 33% fewer forecasting errors than those not. Similarly, the number of products affected by errors was 50% lower in the AI-using group, highlighting how practical these applications can be.

Preventing Machine Breakdowns

AI can also improve the manufacturing process itself. One of the most impactful ways it does this is through predictive maintenance. Predictive algorithms analyse factors like vibrations and heat in the machines on the factory floor. They can then predict when they’ll need repair, preventing costly breakdowns without regular — sometimes unnecessary — maintenance stops.

Unplanned downtime costs manufacturers $2 million a year on average. Faulty machines can also damage products during production, which can be costly with things as expensive as cars. Consequently, using AI to prevent these situations could result in substantial savings.

Over time, AI can analyse maintenance trends to highlight when it’s time to replace or upgrade machines. These insights can help automakers remain as productive as possible.

Improving Quality Control

Similarly, AI in car manufacturing can help automakers improve the quality control process. Vehicles are big-ticket items, so buyers expect top-notch quality from new models. Ensuring products meet these high standards can be tricky and time-consuming with manual processes, but AI can help.

Machine vision systems can scan cars for defects far faster than a human can. Since AI doesn’t get bored or distracted by repetitive work, it’s also less likely to make mistakes. Automating quality control with AI can make the process more accurate, ensuring everything that leaves the production floor meets high standards.

AI can also recognise repeated flaws potentially indicating a bigger problem. Automakers can then adjust their workflows as necessary to reduce errors, save money and improve product quality.

Mitigating Worker Shortages

Another crucial way that AI improves auto manufacturing is through automation. Manufacturing as a whole is facing a substantial labour shortage. If current trends persist, there could be 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2030. AI may not reverse that trend, but it can mitigate its impact.

AI can bring new capabilities to automated machines, letting them communicate and adapt. As devices gain these abilities, automakers could automate more of their processes, allowing them to do more despite a smaller workforce. AI can also automate back-office tasks like scheduling and data entry to improve productivity in other areas.

Additionally, automakers can apply AI to the recruiting process. AI recruiting systems could find and recommend ideal candidates and streamline interviews and onboarding to help manufacturers fill roles faster.

Informing Smarter Design Choices

Like any industry, automakers have to adapt to meet changing demands. AI can help them understand current and shifting consumer preferences, informing new car designs that appeal more to the public.

The pandemic has shifted many customer feelings, including a growing willingness to invest in solutions that keep car interiors clean. AI algorithms could observe this trend from historical and new data, and then suggest design choices that meet it. Adjusting to these trends in advance like this could help automakers maximise their sales.

AI could also analyse car designs and suggest modifications to make them more aerodynamic or efficient. These insights could help create designs humans wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

Enabling Personalisation

Another way AI can help meet customers’ needs is by enabling more personalisation. Today’s consumers have grown used to extreme customisation from online services — and AI can help car companies provide a similar experience.

Porsche uses AI to suggest car configurations tailored to individual users. When someone uses the platform to look into or buy a new car, the AI analyses their data and compares it to patterns among similar users to determine what they’d like most. Porsche claims these insights are 90% accurate and will only improve over time since the system is self-optimising.

AI-driven manufacturing-process improvements could help automakers make their production lines more versatile. That way, they could offer even more customisation, giving customers more options to create the car of their dreams.

Offering 24/7 Customer Support

AI in car manufacturing also helps by streamlining and expanding customer support. Chatbots can handle questions from potential customers or current owners regardless of the time. This automation would also reduce workloads for human customer service representatives.

These benefits are valuable for any business, but AI customer support can go even further for car companies. Manufacturers could create cars with onboard AI systems that can sense driving patterns to recommend improvements in future models based on what drivers struggle with. These systems could detect crashes and automatically contact emergency services, potentially saving lives.

AI In Car Manufacturing Could Revolutionise the Industry

AI in car manufacturing is growing and it’s easy to see why. These seven improvements are just a sample of how this technology could improve the industry. As more automakers embrace AI, they could forever change the sector for the better.

AI can make auto manufacturing more efficient, cost-effective, flexible and customer-centric. These benefits will help automakers and their customers, making the industry a better place for everyone.

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