August 3, 2022 - Podcast

Episode 293 — Harnessing AI to reduce energy use

You’ve likely heard of artificial intelligence research applied to health and health care. But IU researchers say they are working on one of the first research projects to combine the fields of energy, AI and manufacturing. In collaboration with partners in industry and academia, the researchers are using AI and machine learning to help small and mid-sized Indiana manufacturers lower their carbon footprints and train students for careers in the emerging field of energy analytics. As part of the project, they will develop advanced manufacturing data models and analytics applications that will recommend processes and protocols to manufacturing companies so they can reduce their energy consumption. This will increase factory efficiency and enhance sustainability. IU’s Raj Acharya, associate vice president for research and AI innovation, says over 95% of Indiana manufacturers don’t have analytics to correlate their energy usage with factory assembly lines, machines, shifts, operator usage patterns and more. Having this understanding, coupled with solutions to detected problems, will allow manufacturers to immediately see the improvement in their energy usage processes. The project builds on another state program developed in collaboration with Amazon Web Services. That program, called “Energy INsights,” helps participating Indiana manufacturers integrate an AWS-connected platform, cutting-edge computer and sensor hardware, and AI and data science software tools to optimize energy efficiency at their factories. IU researchers will collect and analyze data gathered from Energy INsights and university testbeds to develop applications and a raw data repository, or a "data lake," for use by the broader industry, research and education communities. The researchers will package their apps into customizable assets on the AWS cloud, where they'll be available to manufacturers. In addition to building industry tools, IU faculty will also create educational resources and work alongside students to provide them with hands-on experience in developing and implementing analytics models to evaluate energy data. IU will develop extensive education and training materials, including new curricula, lectures, tutorials, lab environments, training exercises and high-fidelity simulations of energy-saving solutions in practice. The two-year project is already underway, with researchers setting up manufacturing testbeds on campus.