How AI is Transforming the Manufacturing Sector

How AI is Transforming the Manufacturing Sector

AI-driven automation, predictive maintenance and quality control are transforming the manufacturing landscape. In smart factories, for example, AI is playing a role in optimizing resource allocation, reducing downtime and increasing overall operational efficiency.

But when comparing Canadian SMEs to their counterparts in other countries, “digital adoption is pretty low, and way too low if we want to be better and more productive,” said Isabelle Hudon, President and CEO of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), during a panel at ALL IN. The BDC is dedicated to supporting Canadian SMEs, about one-quarter of which are in the manufacturing sector.

In part, adoption is low because SMEs perceive AI as too complex or too expensive. At the same time, for those that have adopted AI, “the growth and the scaling of their business is very impressive,” said Hudon.

That creates an interesting paradox: While AI could be the solution to some of the struggles that SMEs are facing, such as supply chain challenges or labour shortages, they’re not adopting AI because they don’t understand what it could offer them.

Closing the gap doesn’t necessarily start with selling the technology, said Hudon, but with education. “I believe that it’s non-negotiable to train entrepreneurs and the business community on the many benefits that AI can bring into their businesses,” she said. And that could help to inject some speed into AI adoption.

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