Can your business afford to invest in AI?

Shire Leasing’s Alex Hall examines the increasing noise around the AI industry and the potential implications…

AI has been around for years, from asking Alexa to tell you the weather forecast to getting your FAQs solved by a chatbot on websites. But with the public release of ChatGPT at the end of 2022, AI is now at the forefront of conversations across most of the business world this year. In 2020, it was estimated the UK business adoption rate of AI was at 15.1%. By 2040, the overall adoption rate was predicted to more than double to 34.8%(Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), and this is likely to be drastically higher given the recent advancements.

AI has seen a comfortable introduction into some industries. But others aren’t as quick off the mark when adopting change. For example, the UK leasing industry has been limited to some advances in technology due to a myriad of regulations and other complexities, especially when looking at the evolution of the consumer finance market. Fortunately, innovation has always remained a core value at Shire Leasing and our business recognises the need to stay ahead of the curve to deliver a high-level service. We have made substantial financial investments to enable our in-house IT team to develop AI, and even have a Director of Transformation who leads a dedicated team that analyse all systems from proposal, to payout and collections.

As a result of this, we have already introduced new functionalities and disruptive technologies through the use of AI. For example, earlier this year, we developed the functionality for equipment vendors and resellers to deliver immediate, a

utomated finance acceptances at point of sale for almost all trading entities, making use of AI to conduct relevant searches as part of the process.

Will AI be adopted by Printwear businesses?

It already has… and it doesn’t have to come with the substantial costs.

I work with many equipment suppliers to help offer their business customers finance options and I’ve seen first-hand how print and embroidery solutions are constantly evolving. Developments and integrations are constantly being added to existing solutions or launched into products, bringing new features and optimising processes more efficiently for businesses looking to benefit from AI without the financial burden.

An example of this is Resolute’s R-Jet PRO DTF V8, which can be bespoke configured with AI technology to remove manual labour tasks and add automation to an array of processes. Colin Marsh, Managing Director of Resolute DTF, commented, “We recently installed a high end DTF system capable of producing 400 linear metres a day, which we configured with AI to suit the client’s needs. The AI produces a gang sheet containing multiple orders. The R-Jet PRO DTF V8 printers are fed the gang sheets by the AI robot engine as they arrive on the system from 1000’s of webshops and printed automatically ready for cutting. The Resolute RIP controlling the printers creates the cut files automatically from information provided by the AI robot, the film spreads are then automatically cut out by a flat-bed cutter (also provided by Resolute), leaving the individual transfers attached by a small tab within each order. This allows the full order to be transported to the heat press without wasting time picking the transfers off the vacuum belt.

“To date this is the most advanced DTF system Resolute have installed, the savings in time and labour this system creates are nothing short of a miracle. What used to take multiple operators hours to print & cut then weed is now produced in minutes automatically at a fraction of the cost. This is a perfect example of how AI technology can be utilised by the companies willing to embrace it.”

Hiring developers might not be the right solution for you, but that doesn’t mean your business processes can’t benefit from bespoke AI. Technology like this can be implemented without hefty investments, with the ability to spread costs up to five years via asset finance options. Consider how partners and industry-leaders could add value to your business, and by working with a forward-thinking finance provider like Shire, your growth plans can become not only achievable, but also affordable.

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