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Indian researchers develop AI solution for advanced manufacturing

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur (IIT-K), under the Centre of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing Technology, have launched a project to make artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) applications affordable for India’s industrial sector, including for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

According to a news report, the solution the researchers developed can be leveraged to inspect each job in a batch, in real-time, and at low costs. The system consists of a low-cost imaging device and AI-enabled software for real-time metrological inspection.

The developed system can be utilised in a production line to check the quality of products and get instant results. This AI-enabled software will enhance the image quality captured by the low-cost camera at par with a high-quality camera output and process the image in real-time. Further, it automates the acceptance or rejection of production jobs and delivers the outcome for real-time managerial insights.

MSMEs rely on the manual inspection of the jobs produced in a batch, where a few samples are randomly selected and checked. Accordingly, the entire batch is either rejected or accepted. This lacks effectiveness and increases the cost of production.

With an accuracy close to 98%, the IIT’s solution can measure the dimensional features of the products, and also it can inspect the presence of scratches and dents. It takes only approximately 12 seconds for the analyses to be complete. The accuracy check and timeliness of the solution have been guaranteed by testing it on different types of jobs. Researchers are working further to reduce the time.

Professor Surjya Pal, the leader of the Centre of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing Technology, explained, “automation is one of the key aspects of digitalisation and is also the need of the hour. The vision of manufacturers revolves around three things that are how fast can manufacturing be performed, how better, and how cheaper? The first highlights a higher rate of production, the second implies the use of innovation in manufacturing and the third aims at reducing the cost.”

While India has been making fast inroads in AI/ML, it is the capital intensive and service industries that can put the applications to their vantage, the report added. The MSME sector, which employs more than 100 million people in the country contributing close to 30% of India’s GDP and 50% of export revenue, is still outside the ambit of industry-scale adoption of AI and ML. This is the gap that IIT-Kharagpur aims to bridge while making low-cost Industry 4.0 solutions across all industrial sectors. A patent has been filed for the system and made available for MSMEs to license the technology.

Researchers at the same institute have also recently developed an energy-efficient pest controlling device for smaller agricultural tracts owned by marginal farmers. The team has built a self-propelled boom-type sprayer that can be operated using solar energy while safely guided through the crops in smaller tracts of land.

The system comprises a propelling unit fitted with a liquid storage tank and a DC motor operated pump to pressurise the liquid to be sprayed. Multiple numbers of spray nozzles are mounted on a boom fitted to the front of the machine to cover wider width at a time.

The device is aimed at increasing field capacity and uniformity in liquid spraying, and also to reduce drudgery to the operator and dependency on fossil fuels.

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