Gartner: 5 best practices for post-COVID innovation
“But manufacturing operations leaders struggle in an era of continuous disruption to identify, pilot and scale digital technologies and new ways of working,” commented Gartner.
As a result the consultant company closely studied organisations that have “successfully cultivated and delivered innovations across their factories and plants,” identifying five best practices for a systematic approach to delivering innovations post-COVID-19.
The challenges of innovation
“Manufacturers are at a significant crossroads. Factories must not only support organisational endeavors for agility and growth, but they must also manage the ongoing impacts and risks of COVID-19,” noted Gartner.
Challenges for manufacturing operations leaders when it comes to innovation include:
- Innovating at scale, with repeatable performance that enables organisations to move faster
- Generating awareness of successful innovation
- Identifying which sites are ready to adopt, or would benefit from innovative technologies and new ways of working
- Governing innovation management
- Scaling pilots
“Short-term measures to navigate the crisis can only last so long before more strategic, new ways of working and manufacturing need to be established. Put another way, scaling innovation is not episodic; it is cyclical. It requires a deliberate approach to identifying opportunities to innovate, pilot and make successes known, and then to transfer,” added Gartner. “Ultimately, without scaling, innovation will not deliver its full value. It is mission critical for manufacturing operations leaders to overcome the challenges to scaling innovation in an era of continuous disruption.”
Gartner’s Five Best Practices for Post-COVID-19 Innovation
- Aligning smart manufacturing efforts with workplace transformation: Gartner identified that “digitalising manual and offline tasks will not only improve capacity utilisation but also will be a platform for developing new factory worker capabilities.”
- Reduce resistance to change: following a gradual rollout plan, to adapt to social distancing, Gartner also identified the need to “explore and evaluate options with high-impact potential, and focus on the critical paths and core processes first.”
- Align innovation operationalisation with the production system: to ensure site readiness and prioritisation, “in a post-COVID-19 era, lean workforces in particular will need new metrics that integrate with the existing ways factories are managed,” added Gartner.
- Create demand for successful innovation: In addition to the above, Gartner found that companies should “enable project leads to share their direct experiences with peer groups and stakeholders” as well as “Attract a project sponsor from senior leadership to stay apprised and informed of initiatives.”
- Connect Syncornisation with continuous improvements: in doing this, Garntner stated that organisations can “ensure hand-offs, eliminate competition for resources and expose further efficiencies,” as well as identifying that HR could be a good partner to assess new required skills.
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’.