Apple Removes Toxic Chemicals for its Manufacturing Process
Following years of controversy surrounding the treatment of their factory workers, Apple has announced that they will eliminate the use of two toxic chemicals in its manufacturing process.
The company will prohibit the use of benzene and n-hexane in the assembly of its products, says Lisa Jackson, vice president of environmental initiatives at Apple. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, benzene is a carcinogen associated with leukemia, and workers exposed to high concentrations of n-hexane in large doses can develop nerve damage.
Jackson said that Apple had recently “received some questions” regarding the use of chemicals at Apple. Jackson dispatched investigators into their 22 factories—which currently employ nearly 500,000 people—and reportedly “found no evidence of workers’ health being put at risk.”
Still, Apple imposed the restriction on usage of these chemicals during the final assembly phase of iPhones, iPads, iPods, Mac computers and their arsenal of accessories.
Apple is also ordering its factories to test all substances to ensure that they do not contain benzene or n-hexane, even if the chemicals are not listed in the ingredients.
However, the company is still allowing use of the two chemicals during the early production phases of its products. These activities take place at different factories from those responsible for the final assembly of the devices.
As an additional precaution, Apple is lowering the maximum amount of benzene and n-hexane that can be present in the materials used during the earlier phases of production.
In a continued effort to go green, Apple has previously developed PVC-free power cords, mercury-free displays and enclosures without brominated flame-retardants.
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’.