Automation and artificial intelligence in the industry

The efficiency of industries has improved in recent times though automation, may it be a manufacturing or process industry automation has made our life easier, safer, and reliable. Now with the development of information technology like data acquisition, data processing, data analysis technique, it is said that artificial intelligence shall be the new change industries are going to face for further improving its efficiency.

The power of data is already known and demonstrated by many companies may it be amazon or Uber, Now almost all companies are thinking to go ahead in implementing the digitalization process but are not exactly know what to do and how to do. Almost all companies who were in the field of automation have jumped for digitalization / Artificial intelligence/ machine learning etc by forming a dedicated cell. All are ready and equipped with the capability of capturing field data, sending and storing data to the cloud. Till this part, there is no major challenge faced by either manufacturing or engineering company. The next process is to process and analyze data and build an artificial intelligence system, this part is most crucial and most of the companies lack it.

During a discussion with one of the IoT companies and manufacturing companies, the IoT company says tell me your problem we will solve. This is a very confusing statement as the manufacturing team says if I know the problem we can also solve. Ist it strange if anyone knows the problem it can be fixed by either one but the problem is both don’t know the problem then what they are going to fix??

Manufacturing managers want to develop artificial intelligence but have a lack of understanding of artificial intelligence and the benefit it may achieve through artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence normally get confused and cannot differentiate with automation and artificial intelligence, So let us see the basic difference between automation and artificial intelligence.

Automation: Automation is the process of making a system operated on preset conditions with minimum human intervention. Eg controlling water level in the boiler drum. A defined setpoint is put in the system and the pump tries to maintain a level of the boiler drum with the use of a control valve.

Artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence is alternate to human intelligence, where the machine learns from the past data and provide decision-based on processed data just like humans. For easier understanding consider a child and how a child recognizes an object say for eg A dog, child stores all relevant data related to dog-like its height, shape, style, and feature, compare it and identify it like a dog. This is called human intelligence. Similarly, if we provide all detail regarding dog to machine and make it capable of identifying a DOG can be referred to as machine intelligence or artificial intelligence. Referring to the boiler drum level control example defining the right setpoint can be done manually or by machine intelligence both after developing learning capability.

 lets us check few projects which may be considered in each category :-

Automation  ProjectsArtificial Intelligence Project
FD air control based on oxygen level set point. Typically 4-6% for coal fired boilers.Identifying and setting best varying oxygen level setpoint for boiler with accounting CO generation, loading of system, fuel-burning characteristics & combustion, and heat recovery performance.
Boiler combustion air control based on temperature and pressure feedback.Identifying best combustion control (feedback) philosophy based on all internal and external parameters like Loading and unloading behavior, Pressure, temperature, bed levels, combustion, feeding rate, etc.
Boiler drum level filling with based on preset levelsDeciding best set point for boiler drum based on dryness factor of steam for process boilers.
Boiler fuel feeding control based on furnace conditions.Deciding the best fuel used in the boiler based on the performance and characteristics of coal.
Deciding boiler efficiency based on fuel feed and steam generated automaticallyIdentifying fuel or efficiency loss area and making decision for auto tuning for the best efficiency conditions.

To summerise, the duty of the boiler manager for analyzing and making the best decision on boiler operation can be shifted to artificial intelligence. In artificial intelligence simulation of human intelligence can be done in the machine, machine will learn based on various parameters, the behavior observed, and take the best & accurate decision for process improvement.

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