Leading-edge IBM hardware on the shopfloor of Factory 2050 — at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) — is giving UK manufacturers access to the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies that are accelerating the pace of innovation across high-value-added manufacturing.
Sean Wilson, technical lead for AI at the AMRC (www.amrc.co.uk
) , said: “This is the first industry-focused AI system of its kind in the UK.
“It’s the result of the very close relationship we have developed with IBM over recent years, enabling the AMRC to open up another dimension of Industry 4.0 for our partners and the wider supply chain.”
The computational muscle of the IBM Power9 AC922 server and FS9150 flash storage enables AMRC engineers to cut the time needed to develop an algorithmic model from weeks to a few hours.
“A perfect example is a recent five-day project with a regional SME, in which we delivered a proof of concept to understand the structure of written documents/forms using computer vision.
"Without the power box, it would have taken a couple of weeks to generate, train and test the deep-learning model.
“With PowerAI Vision software, we were able to upload and train the model in just over an hour, with an 86% accuracy.
“This gave the client the ‘proof of concept’ he needed to approach investors about commercialising his product.
“In this case, the power of AI enabled the AMRC to help an SME with rapid innovation — testing ideas in hours to understand whether it is worth pursuing them further.”
Rab Scott, head of digital at the AMRC, said that the IBM solution is not only fast and powerful but also safe and secure.
“What we are offering brings the power of the cloud into the heart of the factory without dragging all the cloud and its misconceptions with it.
"This ‘on the premises’ cloud keeps data safe, handled in the local IBM and AMRC infrastructure, so that our partners can de-risk innovation while knowing that their data is secure.”