AI technologies should be implemented in the power engineering industry and logistics, believes the moderator of AI Conference, commercial director of RENA SOLUTIONS Evgeny Molchanov. We talked to the expert about the development and problems of the production industry in Russia as well as advantages of artificial intelligence in the production industry.

Evgeny has been working at RENA SOLUTIONS since foundation. The company specializes in the automation of production processes in different areas. It is also involved in the modernization of production and builds robotized complexes.

Interviewer: AI Conference (AIC)
Respondent: Evgeny Molchanov (Е. М.)

AIC: Please, tell about the main advantages of the artificial intelligence for the production industry.

Е. М.: The main advantage is that AI solutions can be adapted to specific situations. For example, in case of scheduled preventive maintenance. It is currently carried out in a regulatory and directive form and often does not correspond to the current condition of the equipment. However, as there are regulations, works are fulfilled strictly.

Thanks to AI algorithms, one can analyze the deterioration of equipment, bundles, and other aggregates. They allow easily understanding which aggregate and bundle require reparation. It significantly reduces the time of maintenance, expenditures, and the amount of expendables.

Besides, the advantage of AI algorithms is their capability to learn and make decisions based on the accumulated experience. For example, computer vision can be taught using AI and will respond only to the situations that it learned.

AIC: Which production industries will win from AI implementation more than others?

Е. М.: Implementation of any technology or IT system is reasonable only in areas, where the maximum marginal effect is achieved. In this case, you can achieve the result justified from the standpoint of investments.

The first industry is power engineering. It exploits turbines and other massive aggregates, which are most vulnerable to critical deterioration. Enterprises bear significant expenses to monitor and stop the operation of each module. Therefore, it is reasonable to start implementing AI algorithms in this field.

The second no less important direction are automated logistics centers. They can adjust to tasks and needs of the contractor and adapt their operation mode in correspondence with his requirements.

For example, the German company Swissloguses AI in the work of warehouses. For the whole day workers prepare orders, and at night the robotized mechanism places them in a specific order for you to know precisely what to take and when.

AIC: What industries are leading the pack in the adoption of AI technologies for production goals in Russia?

Е. М.: If we leave out the illusions, manufacturing is poorly developed in Russia. Few advanced practices are implemented in industries compared to progressive countries.

It is necessary to start the implementation of such solutions from banks, insurance field, Yandex, search systems and services. Just one thing is clear: our production industry cannot afford such technologies without the support from the government.

AIC: Experience of which companies in the development or implementation of AI solutions can be adopted?

Е. М.: We should primarily look up to such powerful industrial corporations as Siemens, General Electric, and others. These companies invest in new technologies and apply them straightway. After we see their experience, we should look up to Russia. We can learn what Siemenshas already done, how the company managed it, and buy those solutions.

There is a possibility to invite specialists of Siemensto attend some Russian manufacturing facility and give an expert evaluation. This company is very open. It is ready to provide expert evaluation services and support in various ways. The business model of Siemenscorresponds to such an ideology.

AIC: Which problems hinder the AI implementation in the production processes in Russia?

Е. М.: Apart from the restricted financial resources of the Russian production facilities, the personnel problem is global. All production chains are built on 20-30-year old paradigms and methods.

If we want to move to a qualitatively new level and use AI technologies, the first thing to do is to change the paradigm of the whole production. Russia has to start with this step. It is impossible to change one software solution and receive results. It all works only as a whole.

Obstacles also include exchange rates fluctuations, which influence the prime cost, as we have almost no closed cycle manufacturing left. One way or another, it depends on external suppliers and is tied to global prices.

AIC: How difficult is it to find specialists in Russia that develop such software and can integrate it with production processes and paradigm?

Е. М.: There is a good deal of such specialists and developers in Russia, but they work for such companies as Inteland Siemens. There are software developers, but no people ready to change the production. Paradigm of modern production strongly differs from what we see at our production sites.

AIC: Does the government help to implement AI technologies in production?

Е. М.: The government seeks to help. Several government programs including financial ones have been announced. But they face the realias of production and are forced out to the second or even third place in terms of priorities. The reason is that currently other problems are being solved at the Russian factories.

Implementation of AI is not a priority for factories, as they do not compete with global companies. Factories have problems that are more important now.

AIC: How can the government help enterprises solve the problem of outdated equipment and management paradigm? Perhaps, by developing new programs at higher education institutes?

Е. М.: It is an administrative, command measure. In such a big country as Russia, it will not bring desirable results. It is necessary to move to a new qualitative level. From the standpoint of privatization and splitting of enterprises, deep vertical integration does not provide for the system’s flexibility. There are many problems connected with the structure. For example, financing is carried out through large holdings and by the time it comes down to the bottom, the idea itself gets strongly distorted. At the bottom, people have little influence over the process.

The situation is completely different in the USA, Germany, or even Japan, which is a very conservative country. In these countries, keynote decisions related to the production development are taken at the bottom, at the level of executives. The same is impossible for us, as our production industry is very weak. And it will be declining without centralized support.

I understand the logic of the government: it is trying to stimulate from the top. However, it does not work, as people at the bottom do not influence decision-making. Possibly, the development would be of higher quality if we started to move non-core assets out of large holdings such as Transmashholding,UralVagonZavod, and others 15-20years ago. If we had moved out those assets, we would have a chance to build strong companies of middle level, and currently this structure is inefficient and cannot struggle.

In such companies as Siemens(that are the closest to our Transmashholding), everything is vice versa: all non-core assets were moved out of operation. However, we had to solve this problem 20 years ago, and now it is almost impossible. Our machine building industry, except for 5-10 large private companies, is unprofitable or exists thanks to the governmental support.

AIC: Please, share your expectations of AI Conference in Moscow.

Е. М.: I think many interesting people will attend the event. I was a moderator two years ago and I liked it a lot. There were many new ideas in the field of mathematics and rather hot discussions. We are good at coming up with and developing a concept, but the stage connected with the development and corporations works out poorly. I think it will be a great event.


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