The manufacturing industry is one of the earliest adapters in the world of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine Learning (ML). As industrial technology grows, this wave of automation is being labelled “Industry 4.0,” as in the fourth industrial revolution. The increasing need among manufacturers to reduce their operational costs and enhance productivity are the key factors leading to the adoption of industry 4.0. One might assume that this adoption of AI and ML would be focused on the production line, and while there are obvious benefits to be had on the line, manufacturing companies on the cutting edge of technology are using these capabilities extensively in their back office; one huge area of focus is around the quoting process.
AI and ML based quoting acts as an internal pricing system, helping to analyze the impact variables such as parts, materials, and finishes have on the finished price and capabilities. This AI integration saves time, reduces administrative burden, reduces costly errors and improve the process, helping to put the same level of priority to all requests of various scales and complexities.
Quoting doesn’t have to a mysterious, gut driven art form based upon the insights of the person preparing it. This AI/ML based technology draws from real data and the learning of the collective organization over time. The use of this technology allows for quick analysis of vast amounts of data to offer insights into the best schedule and opportunity attributes (yes, including price) according to the order requirements and current production capacity. The more data the AI/ML engine has to learn from, the more accurate the quoting and delivery estimates become. This automation is saving time and resources, providing a much improved end user experience and removing the administrative burden.
As such, these large data sets are becoming more critical to the success of the enterprise. We now, more than ever, need to ensure the data and systems are protected, backed up, uncompromised and available. Those manufacturing companies that are leading the way are building competitive advantages based on vast amounts of real data to help derive insights not possible before. Utilizing artificial intelligence to quote will allow management to focus on the big picture of the business.