Industry 4.0; Strengthening US Public Health Infrastructure
The FDA has recognised a need for speed, and it’s turning to smart technology and today’s deep tech to get it there. The mission is critical, to say the least, the risks are far too high to fall behind. As the rest of the world looks to adapt and find efficiencies, luckily, so does the FDA.
“At the start of this 21st year of the 21st Century, businesses, manufacturers, the FDA, and patients, are all adjusting to the changing times and adopting new trends. For the day-to-day work of the FDA, those changes are focused on advanced manufacturing technologies, digital industry and ‘Industry 4.0.’” says the FDA.
Over the past several years, the FDA has invested significantly in to support public health preparedness. The FDA looks to increase efficiencies and mitigate risks through digital manufacturing and advanced approaches such as continuous manufacturing, a continuous, uninterrupted, end-to-end production line that streamlines production. New technology, such as 3D printing, introduces the opportunity to produce patient-specific medical devices more efficiently.
However, Covid-19 has since compounded the need, bringing to light the vulnerabilities of supply chains and the need for more adaptive and responsive manufacturing systems to increase “time to market,” to borrow a phrase, on medical countermeasures.
MCMs, , are FDA-regulated products (biologics, drugs, devices) that may be used in the event of a potential public health emergency. Essentially, they’re a risk management plan, and can be used to diagnose, prevent, protect from, or treat conditions associated with chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) threats, or emerging infectious diseases.
MCMs can include:
- Biologic products, such as vaccines, blood products and antibodies
- Drugs, such as antimicrobial or antiviral drugs
- Devices, including diagnostic tests to identify threat agents, and PPE, such as gloves, respirators (face masks), and ventilators
In its efforts to accelerate the adoption of advanced and smart manufacturing to strengthen the nation’s public health infrastructure, the FDA is “creating a new collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) through a memorandum of understanding (MOU). This MOU is intended to increase U.S. medical supply chain resilience and advanced domestic manufacturing of drugs, biological products and medical devices by adopting 21st-century manufacturing technologies. These include smart technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, and emerging manufacturing processes.”
The FDA and NIST are looking to AI and computational modelling to monitor manufacturing lines, reduce downtime and increase efficiencies. Another strategy being investigated is “modularisation of unit operations “, which essentially standardises the manufacturing process, allowing for the same part to be used in different items, which could decrease cutover time in switching production from one product to another.
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’.