REPORT: The New Face of Manufacturing Revealed
Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council has issued a new Critical Issues Agenda for manufacturing, built around six key elements. Frost & Sullivan is a tenured consulting firm with global connections among business leaders. Here is a summary of the Agenda.
The future’s factories will be built upon the Internet of Things, 3D printing and innovative production technologies and digital manufacturing. These technologies will lead to more flexible, automated and intelligent factories of all sizes.
Innovative enterprises that involve collaborative initiatives that engage both customers and external research groups are the wave of the future. The focus will be on new product development, open collaboration, new business models and customer-centered supply chain innovation.
Manufacturing advocacy is increasingly important during this foray into new manufacturing. The myth that we have lost our base is gradually being refuted, but we must do a better job of highlighting manufacturing’s role in national and regional economic growth, social improvement and employment.
A new generation of leadership and the changing workforce reflect transformation across the industrial landscape, demanding a more imaginative and diverse workplace culture. Developing and retaining the services of skilled workers able to succeed in modern manufacturing is a sizable challenge. The skills gap is a large part of this, but so is recognition that the workforce is changing. A more multicultural norm and the demand for more collaborative decision-making are crucial.
The Leadership Council recognizes sustainability as a major industrial force shaping the future of manufacturing. Sustainability requires greater resource efficiency, cleaner operations, reduced waste and reliance on renewable energy. Social and corporate responsibility is important, but so is the opportunity to cut costs through less waste of raw materials and energy.
Transformative technologies are swiftly changing every phase of the manufacturing process. Management must be able to identify, adopt and leverage the best new technologies to enable process transformation and the development of new products and services. Management must also understand how these technologies will influence responsiveness, efficiency, predictive capability and customer relations.
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’.