In recent years, with the continuous deepening of digital transformation in all walks of life, people have increasingly felt that the age of digital intelligence is accelerating towards us.
Digital cutting-edge technologies represented by 5G, cloud computing, edge computing, big data, and artificial intelligence are deeply integrated with industry fields, and a large number of innovative application scenarios have been incubated. These scenarios not only changed the industry’s crafts and processes but also subverted the business model and reconstructed the industrial ecological pattern.
The most typical is the industrial manufacturing industry. As we all know, the industry is the most important material production sector and a symbol of national strength. It not only provides necessary consumer goods for people’s material life, but also provides raw materials and power for the development of the entire society, and supports the country’s economic autonomy, political independence, and national defense security.
Looking at the modern history of mankind since the 18th century, it is actually the history of the industrial revolution. Starting from the steam engine, mankind has gone through the baptism of three industrial revolutions before realizing a leap in productivity and stepping into the current information age.
Today, the integration of the wave of digital technology and the upgrading of industrial technology will give birth to the fourth industrial revolution. How will this revolution reshape the mode of operation of human society? In what direction will AIoT+ Industry 4.0 develop?
How does AIoT empower industrial manufacturing?
Everyone should know something about the fourth industrial revolution. This is an industrial revolution with breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, graphene, genetic technology, quantum information, controllable nuclear fusion, clean energy, and biotechnology.
From the perspective of industrial manufacturing, its biggest change is the in-depth application of digital intelligent technology and the introduction of the Industrial Internet.
The Industrial Internet is completely different from the mobile Internet (consumer Internet) we use every day. It is a representative of the industry Internet, and it is also deep integration of a new generation of ICT (information communication) technology and OT (industrial operation) technology.
Industrial Internet is not only the digital upgrade of industrial infrastructure but also the evolution of industrial processes and industrial economic ecology. Through the comprehensive connection of people, machines, things, systems, etc. through the Industrial Internet, a new manufacturing and service system covering the entire industry chain and the entire value chain can be constructed. This system is based on informatization, networking, and intelligence. Its driving force, in addition to fossil fuels and electricity, also includes computing power and connection power.
With the help of computing power and connectivity, the division of labor and collaboration in industrial manufacturing will be further refined, and the production process will also be deeply optimized. The research and development, production, quality control, and maintenance in the production process will be controlled manually instead of computing power. The ultimate form of computing power is AI artificial intelligence.
After talking for a long time, everyone may find it too abstract and difficult to understand. Next, we might as well take a few cases to see how digital intelligence can empower industrial manufacturing and improve production efficiency.
First, let’s look at a case of intelligent sorting of an assembly line industrial robot.
After entering the 21st century, industrial robots and robotic arms have been widely adopted, replacing some assembly line employees. Early robots could only accept specific instructions and programs and perform a small number of fixed operations. They were basically not intelligent.
When different items are sent from the conveyor belt, the robot cannot judge the category of the items, let alone distinguish them.
After the introduction of the Industrial Internet, the situation is different.
By installing a communication module on the robot, the image of the item taken by the robot’s camera can be uploaded to the cloud, and the cloud can perform image recognition, combined with machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms, to determine the category of the item in advance. Then, under the instructions of the cloud, the robot drives the robotic arm to grab the items at an accurate position and classify them.
In this way, the robot can truly achieve the same processing power as the assembly line worker, or even stronger.
Let’s look at another case-product quality inspection combined with AIoT technology.
Product quality inspection has always been the difficulty of automated intervention. Because there are many defects in the product, and the location and form of the damage are different, traditional automated machinery cannot make accurate judgments and can only be identified and judged manually.
Now, also with the help of data collection equipment such as cameras and sensors, it is possible to take high-speed photographs of the inspection objects, and then send the data to the cloud. The cloud combines machine learning to determine the defect category, such as false welding, missing welding, corrosion, fracture, etc. and then instructs the robotic arm to identify and pick out defective products.
What’s even more powerful is that AI can not only judge product defects, but also summarize the rules of defects, help the production line find possible causes of defects, and correct and avoid them.
Analysis of core elements of AIoT
Through the above two examples, we can see that in order to realize true digital intelligence, several important elements are inseparable:
First of all, you must have powerful data acquisition equipment, including ultra-high-resolution cameras, ultra-fine precision sensors, and so on. Data acquisition equipment is the source of data. If there is no data, there is always no need to talk about it.
Second, we need a high-performance and ubiquitous communication network.
A complete network, including terminals and network side equipment. It is the module that determines the network performance on the terminal side.
In recent years, with the development of the times, wireless communication technology has greatly approached the gap with wired communication technology in terms of communication capabilities. WiFi 6 has been applied on large scale, WiFi 7 is already on the road. Moreover, wireless technology itself has the advantages of flexible deployment and no wiring coverage. Therefore, it is widely used in industrial manufacturing, logistics and transportation, education and medical care, and urban governance.
The capabilities of wireless modules are also advancing by leaps and bounds, power consumption continues to decrease, and integration is getting higher and higher. Often a module can support multiple formats and functions.
5G is currently the most technologically advanced communication technology. It has the characteristics of large bandwidth, low latency, and massive connections, which is very suitable for industrial manufacturing scenarios. The high-speed image recognition mentioned in our previous case and the transmission of massive high-definition images require a high-speed network such as 5G.
Moreover, in order to quickly realize the closed-loop of photographing, analysis, and processing, the network needs to have extremely low latency, which is also the strength of 5G. The end-to-end delay of the 5G air interface can be controlled within a few milliseconds, with low jitter and high reliability, which fully meets the requirements of industrial scenarios.
After the 3GPP R16 standard is confirmed, 5G industrial modules are constantly emerging, enabling the 5Gization of industrial scenes.
Finally, there is a powerful computing platform.
With the help of modules and networks, data can flow smoothly and enter the cloud. The cloud combines big data analysis to process massive IoT data. By building a suitable algorithm model on these data, the production process can be intelligent, and efficient AI can replace labor, improve efficiency, and reduce costs.
It is worth mentioning that the use of AI computing power can be done in cloud computing centers, edge computing nodes, or even directly on communication modules with AIoT capabilities.
What is the most precious thing in the era of digital intelligence? It is imagination.
Our society has hundreds of industries, and each industry has its own work scene. Digital intelligent technology is a kind of empowerment. How to use this kind of empowerment to deeply transform their own industry is a question that everyone in the industry must think deeply about.
In terms of industrial manufacturing scenarios alone, the various digital applications that have emerged at present are already subtly subverting our industry-in smart mines, unmanned mining machines and mining trucks are systematically digging and transporting ore; In the smart terminal, the staff in the comfortable air-conditioned room are remotely operating the crane to carry out container transportation; in the smart grid, the unmanned inspection robot is strictly inspecting the transmission and distribution equipment…
Quantitative changes produce qualitative changes, and the evolution of countless sub-scenarios ultimately promotes the transformation of the industry.