The UK AI field will play a huge role in industry going forward, according to West-Midlands pallet truck specialists, Midlands Pallet Trucks.

The firm – which supplies manual lifting equipment like manual stacker pallet trucks and sack trucks and trolleys to organisations in industry and logistics – has said that Artificial Intelligence will play a significant, defining role in Industry 4.0. And, with so much research and innovation taking place in the UK, the company added, this revolution could happen sooner rather than later.

The applications of AI – although widespread – are still in their infancy and the near future could see Ai-fed processes becoming the norm across swathes of industry, from gaining insight into efficiencies to product design to the manufacturing process itself. Midland Pallet Trucks is keen to point out that British industry stands at a critical crossroads when it comes to the uptake of AI and its management against the existing, human workforce. One of the main goals of AI – the firm points out – is to provide workspaces with machines that have autonomy and pull from a vast bank of knowledge on how best to proceed, but the impact on jobs and human-occupied roles will require careful and considerate planning.

Ultimately, Artificial Intelligence could carry the power to automate and oversee a number of roles that currently rely on human thought and reaction for the best outcomes. With this will come either the need to retrain staff for roles overseeing AI processes or, in the worst outcome, result in job losses. At the same time, AI provides enormous potential for large and small firms alike to streamline their in-house processes and boost their bottom lines. Midlands Pallet Trucks points out that regulation in the area of AI is sorely lacking, and the current climate is still one ‘wait and see’, as to the benefits and drawbacks of the technology on the human workforce.

Phil Chesworth, Managing Director of Midland Pallet Trucks, said, “It’s clear that Artificial Intelligence represents an enormously valuable tool for any sector of the manufacturing industry – and well beyond – but our main concern right now is how uptake is regulated and if there’s any kind of long-term vision out there in terms of minimising worker impact.

“Every warehouse and factory will still need humans on-site to oversee operations, that’s a given. But we need to be sure that Industry 4.0 doesn’t mean the exclusion of real workers in favour of cost-saving and job-eliminating AI. We know the UK is a hotbed of AI innovation, and it’s important that the impacts are assessed just as thoroughly as the benefits.”