Artificial intelligence (AI) has permeated every aspect of our lives. From major advancements in medicine to transforming the way business is conducted, machine learning shows great potential to improve the quality of our lives in a variety of ways. A behind-the-scenes look into different companies’ AI ventures shows that certain aspects of machine learning even aid in making the world a safer place.
Manufacturing problems can have serious negative impacts on a business. From cars to home appliances, product safety is of utmost importance when it comes to customer satisfaction. Products that cause safety concerns as a result of poor manufacturing or maintenance can lead to extremely negative publicity, and even cost a company millions in lawsuits and legal issues.
It is a manufacturer’s legal duty to sell products that are not defective, and the United States has laws in place to protect consumers from negligent manufacturing. The Levin Firm states that products can be defective in three primary ways: defective design, defective assembly, or failure to warn. If any of these cause serious injury to a consumer, the manufacturer can be found negligent and will likely be deemed responsible for any losses the victim incurs.
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Improving Product Safety
The many advancements in AI are proving useful to reduce manufacturing negligence, and produce safer products for consumers.
Automobile manufacturers are also using analytics for indicators to improve vehicle safety. As stated by Amit Saha, Watson Solution Architect for IBM, “Auto manufacturers can now isolate and pinpoint the cause of safety issues through data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through basic out-of-the-box analysis tools.” This data is publicly available, and data-driven approaches can lead to “faster issue detection, problem resolution, competitive advantages, and improved product design.”
In the energy sector too, AI is making waves when it comes to improving safety. According to the Forbes article referenced above, Global energy leader BP is using technology to drive new levels of performance, as well as improve the safety and reliability of oil and gas production and refining: “From sensors that relay the conditions at each site to using AI technology to improve operations, BP puts data at the fingertips of engineers, scientists and decision-makers to help drive high performance.”
Manufacturing and ongoing maintenance is a huge expense for companies. These expenses have a critical impact on the bottom line for any asset-reliant production process. As quoted from an article on CIO, “studies show that unplanned downtime costs manufacturers an estimated $50 billion annually, and that asset failure is the cause of 42 percent of this unplanned downtime.”
Fortunately, AI technology can lower these costs. AI makes “predictive maintenance” of products very possible. Predictive maintenance uses AI to form predictions about asset malfunction. this allows for reductions in unplanned downtime, and more importantly, extends the remaining useful life of production machines and equipment. Subsequently, companies are able to manufacture safer and longer-lasting final products.
One such example is Volvo’s use of AI, as stated in a Forbes article. They use data generated by its cars to predict when parts will fail or when a certain vehicle needs servicing. Volvo also is able to monitor vehicle performance during hazardous conditions. In this way, the company has maintained an impressive safety record.
AI-Assisted Product Marketing & Design
From a product’s inception to the way it is marketed, AI tools can be used to streamline processes and improve both company efficiency and customer satisfaction. Pepperdine University explains how automation changes the focus of marketing efforts: “Creative work, personal communication, and delivering value to customers through content will take greater importance as automation increases in functional ability.”
Because marketers are free to focus on creating genuine connections with consumers, personalization (and even hyper-personalization) has begun to play a much larger role in digital marketing. This enables companies to devote more resources to product safety and to tout new safety features in their marketing efforts.
AI also allows for products are also able to be designed better. Designers and engineers to to input detailed briefs that include restrictions, material parameters, available production methods, budget limitations, and many other variables into an AI algorithm. The algorithm then explores every possible permutation before suggesting the best and most viable solution based on the brief details.
To gain even more insight, the proposed solutions can be tested to determine which design works best. Through a process of repetition, the use of AI algorithms in design ensures that an optimal product design solution is reached, reducing the likelihood of unexpected safety issues cropping up at a later time.
Transforming Customer Service
Last but not least, the role AI plays in customer service also contributes to product safety. One of the most widespread uses of AI is in the form of chatbots and virtual assistants. In fact, AI excels at meeting a customer’s needs both efficiently and accurately. Virtual assistants can mimic our brain’s cognitive functions — especially those that deal with learning and solving problems.
Experts at HelpOnClick write, “This allows virtual assistants to categorize information and narrow down correct answers for each customer query.” Virtual assistants and live chat capabilities have made it possible to greatly scale up customer service and produce honest consumer insights. This means, that as a consumer, one is able to lodge a complaint, give feedback, or point out a safety issue at any time from anywhere in the world.
Unlike humans who are limited by work hours and time zones, virtual assistants and live chats can provide assistance 24/7, ensuring that a consumer is well attended to. If used properly and in conjunction with maintenance processes, the data gained from virtual assistants allows for consumer-realized safety concerns to be promptly addressed and subsequently prevented in future production.
Unfortunately, even with all it’s benefits, AI is often misunderstood. There are many skeptics and cynics out there who believe that AI is just a fad or, even worse, out to completely replace humans. On the contrary, AI has the potential to augment current human processes and thus improve our livelihood. As evidenced from the examples above, by fully and correctly embracing AI into our lives, we can surely make the world a safer place.