BREAKING: Ford replaces European CEO following Q3 losses
Automotive manufacturer Ford has announced it has replaced its European boss following widening third quarter losses. In a press release the company said Jim Farley, Ford’s global marketing chief, has taken over as head of European operations, based in Cologne, Germany.
Farley is reversing roles with outgoing European CEO, Stephen Odell, who will head up group-wide marketing.
Ford hasn’t turned a profit in Europe since 2010, when Odell took over and the region plunged into an economic recession. Ford is forecasting a $1.2-billion loss in Europe for 2014, following widening third-quarter losses, and no longer is predicting a return to profit next year.
Farley, 52, has been appointed to charged lead Ford’s turnaround in Europe, which includes a series of new product launches and cost cutting exercises. Farley took over the marketing role in 2007, and previously spent a decade at the Lexus luxury division of Toyota Motor Corp.
Odell, 59, is credited as instrumental in the turnaround at Volvo, where he was CEO for two years, and at Mazda, where he was marketing chief. Ford said the changes have been planned for some time.
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’.