Orange Business Services: digitalisation of manufacturing
Speaking wth Emmanuel Routier, VP Industry 4.0, Orange Business Services, Manufacturing Global uncovers his thoughts on the emerging trends in smart manufacturing and digitalistion, as well as the impact of COVID-19.
What trends do you see emerging when it comes to smart manufacturing and the digitalisation of its functions and operations?
Orange Business Services recently undertook a piece of research examining how the last turbulent twelve months has impacted on companies’ approaches to digitalisation and examined a number of different trends across a range of industries.
First and foremost, the pandemic highlighted risks and challenges in supply chains that had a huge impact throughout 2020 on manufacturing – 83% of business leaders say they are more aware of supply chain risks than they were a year ago. Despite the development of vaccines, it will be some time before the disruption of the ongoing pandemic ceases to have a detrimental impact on our supply chains. Because of this, one of the most immediate considerations is how we can digitalise supply chains to help them run effectively and efficiently while avoiding the ongoing disruptions.
The technology asset that organisations will be looking to harness increasingly in the coming months and years will be data. Real-time data can now be captured in cost-effective ways to power better workflows that extend across an ecosystem of partners. As it stands however, just 45% of businesses are using real-time data insights to drive their operations today. We believe that this will likely double over the next two years.
Another trend that we see emerging at an increasing pace is the role of sustainability in the manufacturing industry. In our research, we discovered that around 80% of companies are investing in digital technologies to become a more sustainable business. This year, sustainability will be increasingly on top of the agenda and with COP26 around the corner, companies will be vying to highlight their own green credentials. For manufacturers, digitisation will be key to achieving their green ambitions, using real-time data and advanced analytics to monitor sustainability factors such as energy, fuel and water usage.
How has manufacturing been impacted by COVID-19 and how do you see the sector emerging from the impact?
Covid-19 hit the global economy, and it's true impact is yet to be seen. However, where the pandemic hit the hardest was the disruption it caused to our global supply chains. The impact that border closures and shipment delays had on manufacturing saw many companies either stall their production lines, or in some cases pivot to producing completely different products such as PPE as part of the global response to the pandemic.
Our recent research concluded that 39% of companies suffered a significant disruption or total collapse of their supply chains at some point in 2020 and a further 42% said they felt over-reliant on a small number of suppliers. The result of this is that nearly two thirds of companies are now looking to transform their onshore, nearshore and offshore manufacturing mix and nearly 90% are overhauling their procurement and risk management strategies.
Covid-19 highlighted the need for manufacturers to be more agile, and to have extended visibility over their supply chains at every point in order to be better prepared in the event of crises. The best option available to manufacturers hoping to emerge from this global crisis is to invest significantly in new digital processes and technologies and embrace digital transformation at scale.
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’.