Podcast: Generative AI may be trendy, but manufacturers aren’t using it

Podcast: Generative AI may be trendy, but manufacturers aren’t using it

May 31, 2024
In this episode of Great Question: A Manufacturing Podcast, Dennis Scimeca from IndustryWeek explores shifting attitudes toward new technologies, including generative AI and IIoT. 

Dennis Scimeca is the senior editor for technology at IndustryWeek. In his current position, he covers a range of topics, including how innovations in the manufacturing sphere are helping companies improve their competitiveness and their profits. He shines a light on the latest and greatest industrial technology, including vision systems, machine learning/artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and interactive entertainment. Dennis recently spoke with IndustryWeek editor in chief Robert Schoenberger about the results of the brand’s 2024 technology survey and how this information will impact the industry.

Below is an excerpt from the podcast:

IW: Every year, we ask our readers and manufacturing leaders what technologies they are using, what they think of various systems, what the state of technology is in the manufacturing world, and where they're expecting growth. And Dennis, to put it really bluntly and succinctly, when he was looking at this year's answers, said IIoT means nothing and no one uses generative AI. So Dennis, no one uses generative AI?

DS: Not for manufacturing. Let’s put it this way. So, manufacturing companies may use generative AI in their public relations or marketing, but those tasks have nothing intrinsically to do with manufacturing, right? And IndustryWeek is primarily concerned with managing factories and what's taking place on the floor. Those sorts of challenges. So, when I say that nobody uses generative AI, I'm really speaking to our audience and what we are concerned about. I have yet to meet anyone who has described to me an application currently in use that utilizes generative AI. I've had one person at a conference suggest a potential use case if someone wanted to design it, which sounded interesting, but also sounded like it might be more work than was worth it. I won't go into the details because I’m not really concerned with pilots in general, so I'm not really concerned with concepts either. I want to know what actually works. So that's what I mean by nobody uses it. Nobody uses it for manufacturing.

IW: It's interesting. I've seen some discussions of how it could work. We've already seen in other fields how computer programmers are using generative AI to do a lot of their code. Theoretically, a machinist could generate their own G code with some sort of AI using a verbal spoken language queue of hey, let's make that part where machining here 10% thinner on the Y axis. Something like that. It's theoretically possible, just not happening quite yet, it sounds like.

DS: You know, I'm actually going to call myself a liar and go ahead and tell you what the idea was that I heard. I think it's so funny. So, the idea was someone is walking the floor and they see a machine. Something's wrong with the machine. So, they speak out loud and say that they want to open a report, and the AI knows where the operator is standing, knows what machines are around them, and what sorts of problems are common. So the AI fills in fields or helps shape the report in such a way that the operator doesn't need to say where they are or what the machine is. The AI will kind of prompt that information and the operator can say yes or no, and the AI begins to put the report together. But the problem is, that's still real natural language processing, NLP, which is something that we already have. Generative AI is creating things fresh, right? So that doesn't really fit the definition, and that's the closest anybody's come. If I were to go back and play the tape, the subject matter expert was very convincing as they were describing the potential use case, but thinking about it later and reading the transcript, it is no, not really.

About the Author

Robert Schoenberger

Robert Schoenberger has been writing about manufacturing technology in one form or another since the late 1990s. He began his career in newspapers in South Texas and has worked for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Plain Dealer in Cleveland where he spent more than six years as the automotive reporter. In 2013, he launched Today's Motor Vehicles, a magazine focusing on design and manufacturing topics within the automotive and commercial truck worlds. He joined IndustryWeek in late 2021.

Sponsored Recommendations

Arc Flash Prevention: What You Need to Know

March 28, 2024
Download to learn: how an arc flash forms and common causes, safety recommendations to help prevent arc flash exposure (including the use of lockout tagout and energy isolating...

Reduce engineering time by 50%

March 28, 2024
Learn how smart value chain applications are made possible by moving from manually-intensive CAD-based drafting packages to modern CAE software.

Filter Monitoring with Rittal's Blue e Air Conditioner

March 28, 2024
Steve Sullivan, Training Supervisor for Rittal North America, provides an overview of the filter monitoring capabilities of the Blue e line of industrial air conditioners.

Limitations of MERV Ratings for Dust Collector Filters

Feb. 23, 2024
It can be complicated and confusing to select the safest and most efficient dust collector filters for your facility. For the HVAC industry, MERV ratings are king. But MERV ratings...