Enhancing Employee Productivity through Artificial Intelligence

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March 28, 2024

The ongoing labor shortage crisis significantly affects productivity, labor costs, quality control, safety concerns, and workloads within grain handling and animal feed milling facilities.

Businesses that invest in automation technologies to address the shortage of available workers may find themselves in a better position. The increased use of robotics, AI-powered sorting systems, and other advanced technologies can streamline operations and reduce reliance on manual labor.

Although these technologies are already prevalent in other industries, the adoption of AI in the animal feed and grain handling sectors is still in its early stages, according to Alan Raveling, a Senior Technologist at Interstates.

One advantage of AI in operations is its ability to facilitate better-informed decision-making, which can help alleviate some of the labor shortage issues. With data analytics, grain handling and feed milling facilities can improve decision-making and enhance product quality.

How can AI Enhance Employee Productivity?

In grain handling and animal feed milling facilities, AI offers automation for repetitive tasks like data entry and analysis, along with monitoring machinery and workflows to catch potential issues early and enhance quality control.

AI-driven tools also aid in inventory management, client demand prediction, and optimizing delivery schedules.

Moreover, AI facilitates have real-time monitoring with dashboards, enabling swift responses to operational challenges. AI contributes to waste reduction and efficiency improvement by automating decisions and offering precise forecasts.

Raveling explained that AI can establish connections and dependencies among data points, eliminating the need for manual definition. Tasks that previously relied on manual work, such as traditional predictive analytics, can now achieve comparable or superior results with AI tools.

With enough data to train on, many AI packages can help grain handling and processing industries obtain deeper insights into their operations,” Raveling further elaborated.

Initial Steps in Implementing AI Technology

To effectively harness AI, extracting ample data from the environment is crucial. The initial step involves pinpointing organizational challenges or opportunities where AI solutions could excel, followed by understanding the data types for optimal software performance.

Once parameters are established, crafting an AI project plan becomes feasible, factoring in physical, technical, and personnel resources for a successful implementation.

Raveling underscores the necessity of data from various sources like sensors and equipment, as it enables AI software to establish connections for identifying new insights and trends.

Finally, ensuring adequate support from the chosen software provider is paramount.

AI is Not a Cure-All

Although AI holds promise for enhancing employee efficiency and productivity, it comes with its hurdles. Raveling warns that implementing and integrating AI solutions can be complex tasks. They often demand personnel with specialized skills, which organizations may lack. This could necessitate additional hiring or outsourcing to third-party specialists for implementation and ongoing support.

Furthermore, AI tools rely heavily on extensive data for optimization, posing technical challenges in data creation and storage.

It's essential to recognize that AI isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. While it can certainly boost the efficiency of a well-managed facility, it can't address fundamental problems such as equipment deterioration, power quality issues, or communication disruptions stemming from improper data cabling installation.

AI Should Enhance, Not Replace, Employees

Many worry that AI will replace human jobs, leading to unemployment. However, AI excels at automating repetitive tasks and assisting with decision-making. It can't replicate humans' creativity or emotional intelligence, but it can enhance human abilities and boost efficiency.

Raveling highlights that employees possess valuable expertise about their facilities in grain handling and processing. AI tools can free up their time from mundane tasks, allowing them to focus on more valuable activities.

To make the most of AI, businesses may need to invest in training their staff with new skills. Raveling reassures that the fear of AI replacing the entire workforce is exaggerated.

“As with any other technology, AI is new and has a lot of buzz. As it matures and becomes more commonplace, it will settle into the long list of technologies organizations must adopt to stay competitive. It won’t be as disruptive as some think it will be.”

This article was initially published in Feed and Grain Magazine.