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Artificial intelligence smartens up

July 1, 2021
A3 trade group highlights importance of AI with strategy group

Remember when artificial intelligence (AI) was just the name of some science-fiction movie you’d swear Will Smith starred in?

While it seems like that was forever ago—sheltering in place for more than a year to isolate from a global pandemic does tend to warp one’s sense of time—discussions of AI applications in manufacturing were still relatively rare prior to the shutdown.

Robotics, augmented reality and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) had captured our attention, but weren’t we still trying to figure out how to manage all of that data we were collecting?

Machine learning has allowed equipment to smarten up from historical data and make decisions via algorithms. It is a large part of what makes artificial intelligence such a viable possibility for production systems.

A sure sign that artificial intelligence has come of age is the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) has included a strategy board of directors to promote adoption of AI in industrial automation, focusing on new certifications, standards, education programs and events.

A3’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology Strategy Board is part of an initiative to promote education and adoption of the applications of artificial intelligence in automation industries.

This board places AI leadership at the same level as A3’s existing technology groups: robotics; vision & imaging; and motion control & motors.

The AI Technology Strategy Board will comprise senior executives from AI and technology companies. This is the first time the global trade association has added a technology group to its leadership since adding motion control in 2006. A3 represents 1,100 companies from across the automation industry.

Artificial intelligence is layering atop robotics, vision, motion control and other automation technologies to create new solutions, great flexibility and expanding opportunities.

Technology companies, once focused more on phones than factory floors, now view manufacturing, robotics and industrial automation as key segments.

“Artificial intelligence in many shapes and forms will be the stitching that weaves together a new age of industry,” says Jeff Burnstein, president of A3. “As the global trade group of the automation industry, we need to help prepare our members to seize this potential.”

The creation of the technology strategy board is the culmination of a three-year effort to educate and inform automation leaders about the growing importance of artificial intelligence.

The board’s chairman is John Lizzi, executive leader—robotics at GE Research, who has chaired and played a role in the A3’s AI efforts to date. Companies such as Amazon, GE, Google, Intel, Microsoft, NVIDIA and Siemens have helped to guide A3’s initiatives. Robert Huschka, A3’s vice president of education strategies, will serve as the association’s liaison to the new board.

In the fall of 2020, A3 hosted its first virtual AI conference, the AI & Smart Automation Conference, with more than 1,600 virtual registrants.

About the author: Mike Bacidore
About the Author

Mike Bacidore | Editor in Chief

Mike Bacidore is chief editor of Control Design and has been an integral part of the Endeavor Business Media editorial team since 2007. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning multiple regional and national awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at [email protected] 

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