Made Smarter, North West pilot gains government backing (UK)
Helping hundreds of UK SME manufacturers access technology and digital tools to boost productivity, growth and create jobs, ’s North West pilot has gained government backing of £8mn to continue its efforts.
“I am delighted that the Government has continued to support the North West Adoption programme. Over the last two years we have worked tirelessly to drive digital technology usage among SME makers across the North West with significant success,” commented Donna Edwards, Made Smarter’s North West Adoption Director.
Further funding from the government means that the initiative - which now expands into the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands - can help hundreds more manufacturers in Cheshire, Warrington, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, and Liverpool City Region.
“The programme has proven the value technology can bring to the manufacturing sector. We have helped hundreds of North West makers start their digital journey by providing them with specialist advice to help them select the right approach, level of investment and tools for their business. With the additional funding, we are able to continue reaching out to the region’s SME manufacturers to connect them to the tools that will make an everyday difference to their businesses,” added Edwards.
Since launching two years ago, the programme has engaged with 1,165 businesses in the North West to “help them join the Industry 4.0 revolution.” In addition 568 have received intensive support including technology advice and digital transformation workshops, while 145 businesses have secured £3.5mn matched funding for 180 projects, leveraging £10mn private sector investments.
Made Smarter reports that these projects are expected to deliver an additional £138mn in gross value for the North West economy in the next three years, creating more than 800 jobs and upskilling 1,700 existing roles.
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’.