6 New Year's resolutions every manufacturing firm needs to take on board
In 2015, consumers will continue to demand lower prices without sacrificing product quality. With this in mind, there is a huge emphasis on reducing operating costs by increasing efficiency, introducing smarter manufacturing processes and reevaluating supply chain procedures.
Manufacturing Global looks at six small changes manufacturers can make this year to significantly lower operating costs and boost business.
1. Increase visibility
In today’s technology and data driven world, there is no excuse for poor visibility. Manufacturers need to implement systems that provide data and information about production time, quality, maintenance and system-to-system collaboration. Without this information the threat of wastage, unnecessary downtime and poor decision-making is ever present.
2. Go paperless
In 2015, any manufacturing firm still relying on paper-based systems is on a serious back-foot. Outdated filing systems can result in loss of data and inaccurate information, it also slows down operations as finding paper-based documentation is time consuming and arduous. Replace paper based systems with electronic systems to benefit from accurate real-time manufacturing intelligence.
3. Focus on quality
As we have already noted, consumers want cheaper products but are unwilling to compromise on quality. Don’t fall into the trap of cutting corners in order to deliver a cheaper product. Ensure quality remains at the top of your agenda because fixing quality issues can ultimately be time consuming and costly in the long run. Eliminate common quality problems and reduce the number of defect products – in time it will pay dividends.
4. Monitor your supply chain
Defect parts, unsafe components and poor quality items will cost your business its reputation. Manufacturers need to keep a firm eye on their supply chain in 2015 to ensure products are produced to the highest possible standard. Short-term savings will only shoot you in the foot later down the line.
5. Think about energy consumption
In 2015 manufacturers need to use less energy if they want to remain profitable – that is a fact. Rising manufacturing energy costs and the need to meet social responsibility policies are putting the pressure on manufacturers, so firms need to start thinking about solutions now. Savings start with monitoring and recording energy consumption; so identify the activities that waste energy and put a strategy in place to reduce them.
6. Strive for continuous improvement
It should go without saying but continuous improvement is vital to running a lean and productive manufacturing facility. Start the year as you mean to go on and introduce a dedicated continuous improvement team to drive initiatives and processes forward.
The role of the team is to get buy in from operators and stakeholders so that everybody understands what role they play in the improvement process and that they see the potential value of the program, departmentally and companywide. Evolving an improvement culture and strategy across the whole organisation is vital to a successful continuous improvement program and a profitable year.
Fluent.ai x BSH: Voice Automating the Assembly Line
Fluent.ai has deployed its voice recognition solutions in one of BSH’s German factories. BSH leads the market in producing connected appliances—its brands include Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau, NEFF, and Thermador, and with this new partnership, the company intends to cut transition time in its assembly lines.
According to BSH, voice automation will yield 75-100% efficiency gains—but it’s the collaboration between the two companies that stands out. ‘After considering 11 companies for this partnership, we chose Fluent.ai because of their key competitive differentiators’, explained Ion Hauer, Venture Partner at BSH Startup Kitchen.
What Sets Fluent.ai Apart?
After seven years of research, the company developed a wide range of artificial intelligence (AI) software products to help original equipment manufacturers (OEM) expand their services. Three key aspects stood out to BSH, which operates across the world and in unique factory environments.
- Robust noise controls. The system can operate even in loud conditions.
- Low latency. The AI understands commands quickly and accurately.
- Multilingual support. BSH can expand the automation to any of its 50+ country operations.
How Voice Automation Works
Instead of pressing buttons, BSH factory workers will now be able to speak into a headset fitted with Fluent.ai’s voice recognition technology. After uttering a WakeWord, workers can use a command to start assembly line movement. As the technology is hands-free, workers benefit from less physical strain, which will both reduce employee fatigue and boost line production.
‘Implementing Fluent’s technology has already improved efficiencies within our factory, with initial implementation of the solution cutting down the transition time from four seconds to one and a half”, said Markus Maier, Project Lead at the BSH factory. ‘In the long run, the production time savings will be invaluable’.
Future Global Adoption
In the coming years, BSH and Fluent.ai will continue to push for artificial intelligence on factory lines, pursuing efficiency, ergonomics, and a healthy work environment. ‘We started with Fluent.ai on one factory assembly line, moved to three, and [are now] considering rolling the technology out worldwide’, said Maier.
Said Probal Lala, Fluent.ai’s CEO: ‘We are thrilled to be working with BSH, a company at the forefront of innovation. Seeing your solution out in the real world is incredibly rewarding, and we look forward to continuing and growing our collaboration’.