Metso Insights Blog People and culture "Machines are becoming more intelligent" – AI changes the emphasis of engineering work
Feb 9, 2024

"Machines are becoming more intelligent" – AI changes the emphasis of engineering work

Johanna Tikander is an experienced Instrumentation Engineer. She kick-started her career in Tampere, where she also studied automation at the Technical University. After graduation, she worked for Kværner Power in Tampere, but shortly after, she moved to Harjavalta to work at a copper smelter. For five years, she worked there as an Instrumentation Designer before moving to Espoo to work as a consultant. While there, she became familiar with Metso's projects for the first time.
Johanna Tikander (left) and Janne Liuttu 
Johanna Tikander (left) and Janne Liuttu 

"I worked on many of Metso's projects and have good memories from that time. Metso has so many products, and the projects are so versatile. This is a very diverse environment, and you can truly always learn something new," Johanna ponders. 

About two years ago, there was an opening for a Chief Instrumentation Engineer at Metso. Johanna applied for the job since Metso had made a good impression on her. The feeling was certainly mutual, and she got the role and joined Metso. 

Johanna Tikander, Chief Instrumentation Engineer at Metso
Johanna Tikander, Chief Instrumentation Engineer at Metso

AI changes the course of engineering work 

As a Chief Instrumentation Engineer, Johanna has two types of projects. In more extensive and complex projects, Johanna's main job is supervising and guiding other instrumentation engineers. She takes care of the schedules and reports to the project manager. Days consist of numerous meetings with customers and Metso's team. On the other hand, in smaller projects, Johanna immerses herself in the design work. 

"I like that there is variation. Sometimes, it is very nice to delve into independent work, yet I also truly enjoy working and communicating with people. When we have a bigger project, the weeks easily fill up with meetings." 

Recently, Johanna has mainly worked on more significant projects with a lot of documentation to do. Documentation is one of the least favorite aspects of her job. 

"Documentation has to be done in every project, and it is often very similar between projects. That is quite laborious and time-consuming, and in complex projects, it gets highlighted because there is so much to do. I would rather use the time to support and help my team and ensure everything is running as planned," Johanna reveals. 

Johanna's wishes might come true very soon since artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly making its way to instrumentation and automation engineering. Johanna believes AI will do most manual and recurring tasks in a few years. 

"I could bet that most of the design software will become more intelligent in the near future, and I think most of the design documents can be produced with the AI inside the software. Engineers would only enter the input data, and AI would create the documentation. The same goes, for example, for circuit diagrams."

The future of AI is already here 

Johanna voices that AI is not some distant future tool anymore – it is already here. Even though AI implementation is still relatively new for Johanna, she has already found ways to utilize AI in her work. 

"At Metso, we use Microsoft Copilot, similar to ChatGPT but has better information security and system integration. For example, it has been beneficial in searching for information productively. I also use it to make my English texts more fluent since English is not my first language," Johanna ponders. 

Metso's Chief Data & AI ArchitectJanne Liuttu agrees with Johanna – AI is here to stay. Its role in the business will be a lot more significant in the future. 

"The trend is that automation is coming everywhere. The machines we are designing are becoming more intelligent, but AI will also change how we design the machines," Janne says. 

Both Janne and Johanna agree that AI will significantly impact the priorities of the work. AI will help free up more time for consultative customer work. 

"AI can free more time to talk to customers and truly understand their needs. I think this is one of the biggest benefits of AI," Janne states. 

Janne Liuttu, Chief Data & AI Architect at Metso
Janne Liuttu, Chief Data & AI Architect at Metso

AI unravels but also challenges 

Johanna has noticed that even though AI can create and edit a lot of documentation already, it is not 100% accurate. You have to go through everything you create with it. She sees this could cause high risks if organizations don't consider this. 

"I can see that in some organizations, it could be considered to replace, for example, outgoing, experienced employees with AI. But in this case, it might be that no one has the skill and knowledge to review materials produced by AI, possibly resulting in losses of millions," Johanna says. 

Johanna also wonders how the development of AI will affect young, recently graduated engineers. AI can soon carry out all the simple, easy tasks. 

"Tasks have to be learned step-by-step. It can become a challenge if young engineers can learn all the advanced tasks and skills without first mastering the simple ones. Also, how will they be able to review documentation by AI if they don't understand it themselves?" 

Even though Johanna has some worries about the future of AI, she also sees that it can have quite the opposite effect. 

"On the other hand, AI can also support reviewing documentation, which could reduce mistakes and help engineers develop their skills faster," Johanna concludes. 

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