By Joakim Johansson
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are revolutionizing the way we manufacture our products and the way we make decisions. Hari Sankar, group vice president, EPM product management at Oracle, shares some of his insights about a fast-arriving future.
Oracle is a world leader when it comes to business-related software. As such, they are also at the forefront of the “new industrial revolution” sweeping through the manufacturing industry. I had the opportunity to meet up with Hari Sankar in Stockholm and talk about how new technology will make an impact:
“At Oracle, we are always looking at technologies that have a disruptive potential. AI and machine learning change how we do certain things, whether we are talking about the finance function, marketing or the manufacturing of products.”
One example that Sankar cites is the ability to counteract machine failures by using machine learning. This leads to significantly reduced machine failures, improved uptime and improved productivity.
“With the use of advanced learning algorithms, we can correlate failures with things that are happening in the environment, how the specific machine is used and how maintenance and the lack of maintenance affect the failure rates. People are good at looking at specifics, but we are not very good at seeing patterns. Learning algorithms can tie together factors that are not immediately obvious otherwise.”
So, Oracle can help businesses understand the massive amounts of data that are generated?
“Exactly. Because people tend to get overwhelmed by too much data, we tend to use our gut feeling when we make decisions. With machine learning, we can instead sift through data and find correlations. We can take recommendations from an AI engine, tweak it, refine it and make decisions based on facts. What Oracle really does is to deliver capabilities in a way that empowers people.”
What is your message to manufacturing companies that hesitate when it comes to adopting the new technologies?
“Playing it safe is not going to be the right strategy; just look at the automotive industry. Tesla came out of nowhere, ten years ago there was no Tesla. Today, they are the automotive company that everyone is looking up to and the core of their success is new technology. You need to ask yourself: what is the risk of my competitors adopting disruptive new technologies and passing me?” Sankar explains.
At the same time, new technology comes with a big learning curve. That is part of Oracle’s offering:
“If you look at machine learning as an example, it is unreasonable for manufacturing businesses to learn the details, but they do know their business processes and how they can benefit from the application of machine learning. Oracle takes the new technologies and we do the heavy lifting where we embed the technologies into our applications. That makes it easier for our customers.”
And the bottom line, according to Sankar, is that the change is happening right now:
“More and more data is becoming available in the manufacturing process and this is an area where new capabilities will be developed. We are starting to scratch the surface, but in the near future, every aspect of our businesses will become intelligent.”