We already encounter AI everywhere in our daily lives, often unnoticed. Whether as a voice assistant such as Alexa or Siri, in the smart home or when streaming music with Spotify & Co. Even before the current hype about generative AI, Heraeus has been using AI in the industrial environment. Traditional AI methods such as machine learning, which specialize in describing, analyzing and evaluating existing data sets, are used in automated component testing, for example. Generative AI, on the other hand, is able to work creatively, generating text and images, for example.
Generative AI is already being used in initial applications at Heraeus, including in marketing and communications. The Digital Hub, the company's digitization unit, actively promotes the use of AI within the company. Among other things, the Digital Hub provides an internal ChatGPT application for all Heraeus employees: The Heraeus AI Assistant.
The internal Heraeus AI assistant has been shaping various work processes since June 2023 thanks to its versatility. It allows all employees with Office access to use ChatGPT 3.5 and 4.0 and the Dall-E imaging AI system free of charge and without restrictions. "This allows colleagues to try AI for themselves and gain initial experience," explains Christian Piazzi, Program Manager AI at the Heraeus Digital Hub. "We want to allay potential fears and build trust."
The service is popular: Roughly 500 employees already use the AI assistant every day, and the number of requests is growing every day. In addition to helping with routine text-based tasks, such as replying to standard e-mail messages, the assistant can also provide inspiration for design requirements or initial ideas for new projects.
"The AI Assistant helps me complete everyday tasks faster and is an indispensable advisor and companion, especially when it comes to new tasks and topics. From simple emails to support with complex analysis tasks, it makes my day-to-day work much easier," says Elisa Kromer, Digital Customer Experience Manager at Heraeus Excellence, about working with the Assistant.
A prerequisite for working with generative AI in everyday life is safe use, as Piazzi emphasizes: "We have done our homework here as well." The Assistant can only be accessed via the Heraeus intranet or protected Internet access, which prevents potential security gaps. There is also a training program that explains both the opportunities and the risks. The benefits, such as improved efficiency and quality of work, are also offset by risks and limitations, such as the fact that the truth is not always certain, possible ethnic discrimination in the results, or, from a purely economic perspective, the higher cost of a ChatGPT request compared to Google. Users should be aware of these issues. The training program is complemented by workshops on how to write prompts, i.e. instructions to the AI, and how to use them optimally in specific work areas.
For Heraeus, the AI assistant is an ongoing driver of the company's digital transformation. In the long term, the company expects that the rapid rollout of the AI Assistant this year will give it a competitive edge thanks to employees who are well trained in AI, which will ultimately benefit all Heraeus customers. And according to Piazzi, that advantage should be maintained in the future: "Like the AI technology itself, the AI Assistant will continue to evolve in the coming months. We already have concrete plans for new functions, such as making Heraeus-specific information and knowledge databases available via the AI Assistant.
And the journey continues, as the Digital Hub has many other exciting projects up its sleeve. Read the next article to find out how AI is opening up new avenues and exciting opportunities in the quartz glass industry.