Business leaders the world over are coming to terms with a brave new normal: a world of remote working, digital-led interactions, and increased uncertainty. Our role at AVEVA is to help teams navigate the new challenges and opportunities this environment brings, while striving to protect lives and livelihoods for the companies and communities we serve.
As a company specialising in digital transformation, we have pivoted to digital-first working practices for our own team and to support our customers. But success in a post-COVID-19 world will be about more than connecting your workforce and shifting to IIOT-enabled operating models. It will be about thinking differently, both in terms of scale and how we approach business challenges. And here, there are two transformative opportunities which we believe will shape a sustainable future for the industries we serve, and the world around us. These are: cloud and artificial intelligence, known as AI.
How do cloud and AI change the game?
Let’s start with AI. It’s been around for more than 30 years, and it’s becoming broader and more sophisticated. This is important, because it enables companies to accelerate how they work. With unified smart analytics that span complete data stacks, teams can leverage mathematical thought processes across all their activities. This gives individuals scale and capacity that they would not otherwise have – knowledge, data-led intelligence, the ability to spot opportunities. It enables people to make better decisions – and to use smart systems to recommend courses of action – that enhance the capabilities of the human workforce.
At AVEVA, we have an incredibly broad portfolio. This means we can infuse AI into products and portfolios to make them smarter – and we’ve been doing this for 15 years in the maintenance and asset performance space with predictive analytics. And, we can integrate those individual products, connecting the different AI modules together into a broader intelligence, using the cloud.
As we integrate systems, we can use the combined analysis to generate more complex insights and recommendations for the human workforce. This allows teams to do more complex things, and to execute them quicker. Because it is all delivered through the cloud, we can leverage the breadth of AVEVA’s whole portfolio – cloud is the glue and AI the intelligence that underpins better decisions.
How does AI and cloud deliver sustainable value in practice?
If we look at Duke Energy in the power sector, they used AI on both rotating and non-rotating equipment and achieved savings of more than £4 million in a single catch – an operational failure that was avoided thanks to artificial intelligence. Now, we are starting to see AI applied to food and beverage and manufacturing where we are finding that AI-infused MES can boost efficiency and enable teams to identify issues not previously seen with the human eye. For example, using fault diagnostics AI can help to identify the fault, and use predictive asset strategies to connect the dots and provide mitigation recommendations that keep plants running more efficiently.
A great example here is ENEL who is using next-gen predictive maintenance to leverage AI-driven simulation and forecasting to get a 360-degree view of risk and improve decision-making throughout operations. Once an issue is identified with Predictive Maintenance, the team can ask: can we make it to the next planned outage, or do we need to schedule an emergency maintenance shutdown? When during the forecasted remaining useful life of an asset is the optimal time to perform maintenance in order to minimise adverse impacts on operations and associated costs? What is the likely impact of a particular outage and what prescriptive actions should we pre-emptively take to mitigate it? This next-gen technology is transforming how the team can produce energy and deliver to customers, driving efficiency and sustainability.
So where in the past we had narrow AI, which was infused into various products now we can use the cloud to leverage AI that spans the whole portfolio. This broader AI is the first step towards AI general intelligence – the ability to make a complex decision using different types of AI, the ability to learn something and apply it in another situation. This is a continuum, and it’s exciting to see the progress already being made. With the shift to digital business models following COVID-19, we see this trend accelerating, and we’re already working with customers across the globe to make that happen.
How does this affect the human workforce?
A decade ago, AI was a concept that was widely misunderstood and sometimes feared. I’m delighted to see how ever-wider adoption is dispelling that fear and showing how AI will make workers better at what they do.
With an ageing workforce, senior experts are retiring and leaving us with a knowledge gap. Connected content, prescriptive actions and engineering that uses intelligent capabilities is transforming how companies plan for the future, whether through predictive operations, predictive MES, or smart SCADA. AI can provide the entire knowledge graph that spans engineering, operations and performance. By applying the AI knowledge, companies are bridging generational knowledge, accelerating training and teaching people be more expert at what they do, enabling them to work faster and more accurately. This same approach could be applied across other scenarios such as remote working, asset performance management and even value chain optimisation.
This is why McKinsey can so predict that AI will drive two percent growth in manufacturing and energy for the next ten years – around $1 Trillion every year. For our customers, we typically see ROI on AI investments in the 100s of millions, within a very short timescale. This is how AI will be crucial to supporting efficiency, sustainability and the ongoing viability of agile industries, in the post-COVID world. Through more efficient deployment of resources and better decision making, AI is already helping us to realise the sustainable industries of the future. I’m invigorated by the fresh growth that AI and cloud together can drive, and how we are working with customers to harness this opportunity in our brave new future.
Discover your digital maturity today!
Article by Craig Hayman, Chief Executive Officer, AVEVA
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