Regional business leader advocates for AI integration in manufacturing

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Craig Lefoe, CEO of Toustone, presenting at the AI and Manufacturing event in Wodonga. Image supplied.

In a recent gathering centred on AI’s role in manufacturing, Craig Lefoe, CEO of Toustone, shared profound insights into the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) within the Australian industrial landscape.

During his address at an AI and Manufacturing Forum in Wodonga, Lefoe stressed the crucial role of AI in enabling data-driven decision-making among business leaders across various sectors, including FMCG, manufacturing, agriculture, transport, engineering, and healthcare.

Reflecting on a recent survey by Rockwell Automation, Lefoe underscored a significant gap in awareness and utilisation of AI technologies within the manufacturing industry.

While the survey indicated a growing inclination towards AI adoption among Australian manufacturers, only a quarter of industry leaders acknowledged familiarity with these transformative technologies.

“This to me spells a problem with lack of education, clear information around the technology. There is a lot of fear around AI, the key to combating resistance to change and fear is with facts, facts and more facts,” Lefoe asserted.

Moreover, Lefoe emphasised the untapped potential of data assets within manufacturing enterprises, citing findings that 86 per cent of manufacturers in Australia have yet to fully harness their data reservoirs.

He emphasised the need for streamlined processes to extract actionable insights from data, thereby enhancing strategic and operational efficacy.

In addressing common apprehensions towards AI integration, Lefoe proposed a pragmatic approach centred on identifying specific business challenges and aligning AI solutions accordingly.

Encouraging businesses to prioritise actionable objectives over perfection, he emphasised the incremental benefits achievable through targeted AI implementation.

Illustrating potential use cases, Lefoe cited examples such as leveraging AI platforms to mitigate employee turnover costs or proactively addressing impending regulatory requirements, such as climate disclosure laws.

“This is another practical example of the application of AI, for Predictive analytics and machine learning together with a solid data foundation can not only provide accurate reporting but also forecast ways to make significant energy savings, up to 24 months in advance,” he noted.

Furthermore, Lefoe acknowledged legitimate concerns surrounding cybersecurity in the era of AI adoption, advocating for robust Information Security Management practices.

“When it comes to cyber security, look out for companies that meet best practice. Or better still, go a step further,” he asserted.

“At Toustone we strive to go beyond the minimum requirements and meet global best practices such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and we are ISO 27001:2022 certified,” Lefoe concluded.

Interested individuals can find additional information regarding Toustone’s Information Security Management Policy Statement by accessing it here.

The collaboration between Wodonga City Council and the Federal Government’s Industry Growth Program (IGP) initiative facilitated the organisation of the AI and Manufacturing forum.