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Microsoft leads the charge in the industrial metaverse

Judson Althoff, Microsoft’s chief commercial officer, recently discussed the industrial metaverse with Blake Moret, chairman and CEO of Rockwell Automation, during the Rockwell Automation Fair 2023. Their conversation delved into the transformative impacts of artificial intelligence (AI), generative AI, ChatGPT, and other digital technologies on manufacturing.

“The industrial metaverse can significantly impact manufacturing by enhancing product and process development,” Althoff says. He explains that the metaverse integrates various technologies to simulate manufacturing requests, either in the cloud or on-site. Microsoft has already seen performance improvements using generative AI in both brownfield and greenfield applications, achieving better sensing and resource utilization within 13-week engagements.

Althoff stressed the importance of embracing these technologies, warning, “This isn’t just a hype cycle. If you don’t engage, you’ll likely fall behind.” He noted the shift in perception towards generative AI, from skepticism to enthusiasm, as users recognize its potential for productivity and data democratisation.

Microsoft is now embedding generative AI across all its products, even using it to write code for faster market delivery. Similarly, Rockwell Automation is incorporating generative AI copilots into its tools, enhancing user experience and enabling co-innovation through platforms like FactoryTalk Design Studio.

“We’re adding generative AI copilots to augment users and open up necessary platforms and ecosystems,” Althoff explains. “This approach allows users to ask software for help directly, unlocking a lot of user satisfaction.”

Generative AI: The future of collaboration and innovation

Althoff and Moret highlighted how generative AI fosters inclusive collaboration, such as enabling joint design reviews with AI copilots in Teams meetings. “Generative AI will make automation more accessible to new graduates unfamiliar with traditional tools like ladder logic,” Moret says. “It opens up possibilities for careers in automation and control systems.”

Althoff elaborated on how large-language models (LLMs) in generative AI simplify interactions for less-experienced users through natural language processing. “We’re unlocking the power of the prompt,” Althoff says. “Frontline workers can use their mobile devices to capture issues and receive AI-driven recommendations in their familiar language.”

“Generative AI is a call to action for everyone. It can transform employee experiences and accelerate innovation,” Althoff concludes. He shared how Microsoft used AI to enhance its support organization, reducing costs by $100 million while improving customer satisfaction. “Anyone can use generative AI to assist their employees and achieve better outcomes,” he adds.

By leveraging generative AI, Microsoft and Rockwell Automation are pioneering advancements in the industrial metaverse, setting the stage for a more innovative and efficient manufacturing future.

CTS The industrialisation of IT
CTS - Industrialisation of IT
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