China’s manufacturing: behind the official figures
Despite a marginal rise...
Factory activity in China continued to contract in September, according to the government's official manufacturing survey.
Despite a marginal rise in the manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) in September, from 49.7 in August to 49.8, the sector contracted for the second consecutive month. The second largest economy in the world is growing at its slowest rate in 25 years, and it is doubtful whether the government’s growth target of seven percent for the current year will be achieved.
The official PMI data, however, looks at activity among larger manufacturers, while a private survey from Caixin and Markit looks at smaller to medium-sized companies in the sector. The final Caixin/Markit manufacturing PMI report for September fell to a new low of 47.2.
Commenting on the recent Chinese PMI figures Kamel Mellahi, Professor of Strategic Management at Warwick Business School comments: "While the overall picture remains mixed, there are a lot of green shoots in China and several indicators are pointing to much stronger economic growth in the coming months. I expect to see additional policy easing before the end of this year to shore up economic growth, but the jury remains out on whether this year’s seven per cent growth target is going to be hit.
"To get a better picture of what’s going on with manufacturing in China one must juxtapose the reported fall of the Caixin/Markit index against the official manufacturing purchasing managers' index figures which paints a more positive picture.
"One expects the official manufacturing purchasing managers' figures to paint a better picture than those released by Caixin. The official manufacturing purchasing managers' index tracks large state owned enterprises which are benefiting from a significant Government stimulus and investment in infrastructure, while Caixin tracks small and medium sized enterprises' activities, which are struggling. The situation for small and medium sized enterprises is not set to change any time soon as demand is unlikely to pick up to a level that will absorb the current vast oversupply in manufacturing."
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’.