UK government commits £30mn to digital technology competition for manufacturers
Backed by £30mn (US$37.3mn) of fun...
The government of the United Kingdom has announced a new research and development competition for UK manufacturers.
Backed by £30mn (US$37.3mn) of funding, the competition is for projects to improve productivity and agility in UK manufacturing.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “We want to support companies of all sizes who want to develop new digital capabilities, and will support projects that will help ensure the UK remains at the forefront of technological developments. Through Made Smarter and our modern Industrial Strategy we are committed to making sure manufacturers are best placed to take advantage of the opportunities being created by industrial digitalisation and help our leading advanced manufacturing sector continue to grow.”
Part of the broader ‘Manufacturing Made Smarter’ challenge, the government is hoping to support the application of technology to manufacturing via technologies such as data analytics and IoT.
Bidding for the competition began on 22 July, with funding intended for projects ready to begin quickly with instant impact. Projects must involve at least one SME.
UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said: “The Manufacturing Made Smarter challenge will boost the productivity of UK manufacturing by encouraging the adoption of digital technologies across a wide range of sectors. It will ensure the long-term prosperity of UK manufacturing and contribute to an increase in total productivity, making the UK a global leader of the 4th Industrial Revolution and delivering clean growth.”
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’.