Bad debt looms for UK manufacturing industry, despite recent success
The UK’s manufacturing sector had a successful few months as it reached its highest output for 10 years and its best quarter for three and a half years.
However, the sector’s bad debt owed to companies increased by 260.24% in the final quarter of last year, compared to the third.
In the same review period, the industry also saw an 8.67% rise in County Court Judgments (CCJs).
The information was provided in the Watchdog report, released by global credit provider and business intelligence expert, Creditsafe.
The report also found that company failures only dropped by 1.06% in the final quarter of 2017, compared to 30.79% in the same time period of 2016.
“While there is certainly cause for cautious optimism as we see the financial health of the UK’s manufacturing base strengthen for a second consecutive quarter, there has been a large increase in bad debt owed by the sector that we should be wary of,” said Rachel Mainwaring, Operations Director at Creditsafe.
“CCJs are also up across the manufacturing sector suggesting that there may be some contagion in unpaid bills.”
“We’ll be keeping a close eye on this as we look to the next quarter, hoping for positive improvement in terms of overall debt in the industry.”
The Watchdog report tracked quarterly economic developments in Manufacturing, Banking and Financial, Farming and Agriculture, Hospitality, IT, Construction, Professional Services, Retail, Sports & Entertainment, Transport, Utilities, and Wholesale.
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’.