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Applying smart automation: Canadian use cases

October 1, 2019-Manufacturing Automation

There is considerable concern that Industry 4.0 automation will either eliminate jobs or put workers on a steep learning curve. The emerging use cases, however, indicate a desire to maintain the existing workforce and help them be more productive.

“We haven’t had a client come to us and say ‘I want to reduce the headcount,’ or that jobs need to be eliminated,” says Humera Malik, CEO of Toronto-based Canvass Analytics. “The impact to the workforce, I believe, is not about eliminating jobs. It’s about creating higher level function – augmenting the workforce to a point where they are becoming the future workforce.”

Hamilton-based steel producer Stelco has selected Canvass to help make this transition. “By partnering with Canvass Analytics, we are systematically transforming our facilities into intelligent operations environments and augmenting a digitally oriented workforce in order to take the efficiency of our operations to the next level,” says Stelco executive chairman Alan Kestenbaum in a press release.

AI interacts with workers at two different levels, Malik explains. Low-level machine learning is used to learn and then automate repetitive processes done by humans, such as quality inspections or making manual changes to functions. “You learn how it’s being done,” says Malik, “and you then can do it better and faster and more accurately.”

For sophisticated tasks that require human intervention for decision-making, AI can provide information to support those decisions. “With high-level AI, you can actually equip [workers] with the right information at the right time so that actionable intelligence can be applied by humans,” says Malik.

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