Mar 27, 2021 - Technology

Building the AI-enabled factory to perfect manufacturing

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A startup is employing AI to streamline and perfect manufacturing.

Why it matters: As valuable as machine learning has been in software, the next phase could be even more disruptive: bringing AI to the often messy process of making things.

What's happening: Nanotronics, a Brooklyn-based science technology company, has developed a platform that combines AI, automation and computer imaging to identify anomalies in the manufacturing process.

  • Quality control is usually the province of workers, but Nanotronics is able to automate much of the process, leading to an "autonomous factory that can change parameters and create alerts, doing things that humans just wouldn't be able to do," says Matthew Putman, the company's founder and CEO.
  • For Nanotronics' partners — which include biotech and semiconductor companies — "AI becomes a great partner in being able to build a factory," he says.

By the numbers: A report published last year from the research firm Technavio estimates that the size of the broader automated industrial quality control market is expected to grow by 7% a year between 2020 and 2024.

  • That growth will likely be accelerated by the effects of the pandemic, which disrupted supply chains and put a premium on the ability to automate manufacturing as much as possible.

Situational awareness: On Thursday, Nanotronics announced a partnership with chemical manufacturer Solugen to use its technology to ensure clean water and safety in Solugen's autonomous chemical plants.

"I don't want the next big tech idea to be a social network. I want it to be a factory."
Matthew Putman, Nanotronics

Go deeper: AI is industrializing

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