Improved customer focus is key to maintaining the momentum of UK manufacturing recovery
Manufacturing firms must take a more customer-centric view of their businesses as the UK manufacturing sector begins to recover from a period of slow growth, according to Advanced ConsultCRM, a provider of business applications and services.
Activity in the sector reached a four-month high in November 2014 after solid domestic demand offset weaker orders from overseas markets, a survey has indicated. The Markit / CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI, an industry leading survey which analyses output, orders, employment and prices, grew to 53.5 in November 2014 from 53.3 in October 2014. This indicates continued growth in the sector.
Simon Fowler, Managing Director of Advanced Business Solutions comments, “Although the rate of expansion is a positive development, it remains below the levels seen at the start of 2014. These remain challenging times for UK manufacturing firms, with many still needing to prioritise resources into successfully growing their sales pipelines.
"CRM technology can assist manufacturers to more effectively manage their entire sales process from initial enquiry through to product delivery, and providing a consistent view of every customer. This is key to providing high quality aftersales support, improving customer retention levels and securing all-important repeat business."
Leading CRM solutions, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM include integrated reporting tools that provide powerful business intelligence analysis. This enables management teams to identify customer buying patterns and predict their future needs to generate more profitable opportunities. CRM helps manufacturers collate and analyse customer feedback about products and services and use this information to develop successful marketing strategies.
In addition, integration between CRM and a company’s website provides e-commerce functionality which automates many time-consuming manual activities including sales order processing and order fulfilment.
CRM solutions can also be integrated with accounts, ERP and document management systems in order to consolidate sales and product information. This enables operational, financial, service and sales teams to improve collaboration by using a single source of customer information, even when they are geographically dispersed.
“Although there is a growing awareness of CRM’s business benefits, there are still many companies which need to invest in this platform if they are to increases sales and maintain their competitive edge. CRM is a vital tool that brings together sales, marketing and customer services in order to help manufacturers identify and generate new revenue streams, ” Fowler concludes.
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’.