Generative AI: A wave of innovation

Koen De Backer | August 2023

At Micron, we are using artificial intelligence (AI) to foundationally optimize our manufacturing processes — across the front end and engineering all the way through to assembly and testing. We’re building something that is completely differentiated, with much higher levels of accuracy and great promise for the future. It’s truly been transformative; you could say that, for manufacturing quality, efficiency and accuracy, it’s the killer app.

We’re seeing in real time how AI can augment and empower our engineers. Today, these experts no longer have to focus on acquiring data and doing multiple base analyses. Instead, they can concentrate on what they’re good at— thinking creatively and innovating insights and actions that could help develop efficient, sustainable products.

The most interesting recent development in our AI research is generative AI, a type of machine learning (ML) that actually “creates” text, video, images and other content, based on user prompts or dialogue. Examples include ChatGPT™, DALL-E™, and Bard™. Today’s AI models excel in ingesting lots of data, identifying patterns and pinpointing root causes from a diagnostic perspective. They also allow us to be proactive with simulation-based solutions. These are the two key areas AI has been used for — until now.

Koen De Backer shares examples of the benefits derived from smart infrastructure and AR technologies at Micron manufacturing sites.

Machine learning in the smart factory

Today, 70% to 80% of AI researchers are focused on generative AI — and that’s not just because of ChatGPT™ buzz. It’s also because of the profound potential benefits to enterprise businesses.

With generative AI, we can “prescribe” actions to team members. That is, we use this new machine learning to go beyond finding a problem’s root cause, instead providing tangible, proactive actions. For example, when team members arrive in the morning, they need to understand what to do and when to do it to be most productive. Now, with generative AI, we can deliver that exact information in a prioritized, quantifiable way.

At Micron, one of our major applications of generative AI is in our “smart searches.” Think of internet search engine results — the ones you have to click on or comb through to understand their value. Now think of a ChatGPT inquiry, which does all this evaluation for you and presents it in a comprehensive summary. We are applying that level of smart functionality to Micron. The efficiency is staggering.

Clearly, we’re deep into the Fourth Industrial Revolution — the Connected Age — as digital technologies connect virtually every aspect of life and work. From cars to refrigerators to manufacturing equipment, increasing arrays of inanimate objects are becoming smart. They use AI not only to assist us with tasks but even to perform them in our stead, learning with each transaction how to do the job better and making decisions autonomously.

Benefits of AI in manufacturing

At Micron, we’re in the early stages, but the use of AI is quickly scaling across the company — and it’s been transformative across all departments. We use it with image, sound and temperature analysis in the front-end manufacturing process, but we’re also applying AI automation in engineering functions and in assembly and testing. AI analyzes innovative data science applications in yield analytics, digital-twin planning, internet of things (IoT) and image analytics, optimization and advanced algorithms, process automation and mobile applications. Next, we’re expanding our use of AI into operations and business functions. We believe this is where we’ll actually see the greatest influence.

This initiative is powered by our technology backbone, a cloud Al/ML platform to increase scalability of solutions across our global network. We continue to enhance our IT stack, deploying more sensors and edge intelligence, enabling more 5G connectivity and advancing the adoption of augmented reality (AR) guidance and deviation-detection systems.

We’re beginning to see a complete smart ecosystem, with an Al approach across the entire enterprise. Micron is advancing this evolution with a $200 million Al venture fund to collaborate with startups and to develop a joint data science program with key equipment and material suppliers and partners.

Our teams are excited about what this new technology is enabling. Being freed up from mundane tasks to think more creatively opens a world of possibilities. Generative AI — that’s where the big wave of innovation is coming from.

VP, Smart Manufacturing & AI

Koen De Backer

Koen De Backer is the Vice President of smart manufacturing and artificial intelligence at Micron Technology. He is responsible for driving Micron's smart manufacturing initiatives and digital operations including capabilities with IoT, artificial intelligence, advanced analytics, cognitive computing and machine learning to enhance our business, global operations and product development.