John Deere Drives Hard Iron With AI
April 5, 2021
A Hybrid 944K Wheel Loader distributes aggregate in Georgetown, Texas.
John Deere is leveraging Intel’s
artificial intelligence (AI) technology to help solve a costly, age-old problem
in the manufacturing welding process. Deere is piloting a solution that uses
computer vision to automatically spot common defects in the automated welding
process in its manufacturing facilities.
Andy Benko, quality director, John Deere Construction & Forestry Division said,
“Welding is a complicated process. This AI solution has the potential to help us
produce our high-quality machines more efficiently than before. The introduction
of new technology into manufacturing is opening up new opportunities and
changing the way we think about some processes that haven’t changed in years.”
Why It Matters: At 52 factories around the world, John Deere uses the Gas Metal
Arc Welding (GMAW) process to weld mild- to high-strength steel to create
machines and products. In these factories, hundreds of robotic arms consume
millions of weld wire pounds annually.
With this volume of welding, Deere has experience finding solutions to welding
issues — and is always looking for new ways to deal with potential problems. One
common welding challenge felt across the industry is porosity, in which cavities
in the weld metal are caused by trapped gas bubbles as the weld cools. The
cavities weaken the weld strength.
Traditionally, GMAW defect detection has been a manual process requiring highly
skilled technicians. Past attempts throughout the industry to deal with weld
porosity issues during the welding process haven’t always been successful. If
these flaws are found later in the manufacturing process, they require re-work
or even scrapping of full assemblies, which can be disruptive and expensive to
How it Works: The opportunity to work with Intel to leverage AI to address weld
porosity was a chance to bring together two of John Deere’s core values —
innovation and quality. “We wanted to drive technology to make John Deere’s weld
quality better than it’s ever been. That’s the commitment we have to our
customers, and that’s what they expect from John Deere,” said Benko.
and Deere combined expertise to develop an integrated, end-to-end system of
hardware and software that can generate insights in real time at the edge, at
levels beyond the human sense’s capability. When using a neural network-based
inference engine, the solution logs defects in real time and automatically stops
the welding process. The automated system allows Deere to correct the issue in
real time and produce the quality products that Deere is known for.
“Deere is leveraging AI and machine vision to solve a common challenge with
robotic welding,” said Christine Boles, vice president in Intel’s Internet of
Things Group and general manager of Industrial Solutions Group. “By leveraging
Intel technology and smart infrastructure in their factories, Deere is
positioning themselves well to capitalize not only on this welding solution, but
potentially others that emerge as part of their broader Industry 4.0