Artificial intelligence could improve medical device manufacturing efficiency and reduce risk, but it’s still a work in progress.Artificial intelligence is driving the world and our habits. Some of the world’s most well-known companies are using AI: Apple in Siri, Tesla in self-driving cars, Amazon in Alexa and even Netflix.
Now medical device companies including Medtronic are actively developing AI applications throughout their manufacturing and supply-chain operations.
“We anticipate widespread application of AI to manufacturing, including within our supply chain,” Todd Morley, director of data science at Medtronic, told MassDevice’s sister site Medical Design & Outsourcing.
Areas of focus include supplier and production quality control, supply-chain optimization, yield optimization and predictive maintenance, according to Morley.
“Industrial engineers have applied statistical methods to manufacturing for decades,” Morley said. “However, the convergence of ubiquitous, inexpensive sensors; abundant computing resources; and powerful, highly accurate AI methods such as deep learning and graphical modeling creates new business cases for AI in manufacturing.”
Artificial intelligence is the capability of a machine to perform tasks that would normally be done by a human. Through machine learning, computers are taking in troves of data and learning mistakes while enhancing the jobs of engineers in the manufacturing process.
“Engineers have more time to do the important work,” said Carlos Meléndez, COO and co-founder of AI consulting company Wovenware (San Juan, Puerto Rico). “They don’t have to worry about things that they will not be able to fix.”
For example, a predictive algorithm can gather data about a medical device that was taken out of a production line because of a problem with the device. Using data and performance records, AI can determine the probability of that particular device being scrapped. If the algorithm shows a 99% chance that the device is going to be scrapped, it won’t be sent to the engineering department. Engineers then have more time to dedicate to more important processes, said Meléndez, whose company has been working with medical device manufacturers.
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