Product quality can make or break a manufacturing business. Customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, and profitability are all directly affected by how well a product meets customer needs, fulfills its intended function, and adheres to industry standards. Increasingly, artificial intelligence (AI) is being incorporated into solutions that enable manufacturers to improve their product quality and reduce the waste associated with parts that fail to meet specifications by optimizing machine and process performance, as well as identifying inefficiencies in real-time. This ensures that products meet customer expectations while helping manufacturers to maintain market competitiveness and strengthen their bottom line.
Examples of AI Enhancing Product Quality
AI is enhancing product quality throughout every phase of manufacturing today. For example, AI optimizes factory floor layouts, process-flow efficiency, and real-time adjustments to ensure high-quality production. Together, AI and machine learning help manufacturers generate innovative ideas and streamline design processes early in product development, resulting in more efficient, reliable, and higher-quality products. Moreover, visual inspection AI and edge analytics make it possible to detect defects and irregularities in real-time during production, ensuring product quality and reducing operational costs.
In fact, AI can be applied to nearly every phase of the manufacturing process, resulting in better products and market advantage. Let’s look at a few examples.
- Strengthen anomaly detection and quality control. Anomaly detection and quality control are crucial for identifying data points, events, and observations that deviate from a data set’s normal behavior, especially in shop floor manufacturing applications. Real-time monitoring provides the data needed to increase the accuracy and reliability of anomaly detection and quality control analysis. Meanwhile, AI models applied to this data in real-time—24×7 if needed—enable faster, more comprehensive analysis of anomalies and process events that could affect productivity and availability, as well as quality.
- Improve production quality and yield. AI-based edge analytics offer a powerful tool for enhancing product quality and yield by analyzing data at the source, closer to sensors and connected devices, instead of relying on centralized systems. This approach makes it possible to implement real-time adjustments to sub-optimal production processes that can affect productivity and availability, as well as quality. For example, visual inspection AI utilizes computer vision to automatically detect product defects, so they can be corrected before they significantly impact production. Together, the scalability of AI, availability of edge analytics, and easy integration are making it easier for companies to improve their product quality at multiple manufacturing sites.
- Streamline new product development. AI’s ability to analyze large amounts of data and make accurate predictions speeds up product testing and design optimization, reducing development time and cost. AI also helps identify quality issues and operational inefficiencies in trial runs, improving resource allocation and product quality before going into full-scale production.
- Reduce unnecessary scrap and waste. AI’s early quality detection and production quality checks help manufacturers to reduce waste and scrap. When applied to sensor and production equipment data, AI-driven computer vision and machine learning can detect out-of-specification (OOS) results that fall outside of established acceptance criteria in real-time. Armed with this information, manufacturers can take corrective action quickly to reduce waste and scrap resulting from faulty parts being produced or inefficient use of raw materials. By using AI to identify waste and scrap patterns quickly, companies can cut costs and strengthen their sustainability.
- Drive quality across the supply chain. Manufacturers can improve product quality and customer satisfaction by using AI to predict demand, optimize inventory, and improve supplier relationships. By implementing AI-driven demand forecasting, companies can make more informed decisions on procuring raw materials, ensuring higher quality inputs and fewer defective products. Additionally, AI can help manufacturers achieve operational sustainability and premium service levels by integrating manufacturing and logistics supply chains, making the business more resilient and adaptive to short-term changes.
Product quality affects customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, profitability, and market competitiveness. AI-powered solutions can help manufacturers to improve their product quality—and reduce waste related to faulty products—by providing real-time analysis of machine performance, product and process anomalies, and other potential issues. By using AI to improve quality control across their companies and supply chains, companies are better positioned to create a more efficient, sustainable, and customer-focused production process. This in turn enables manufacturers to deliver higher-quality and more versatile products that meet customer expectations and enable greater competitiveness in today’s global market.