UK manufacturers are confident in 2018 and willing to invest
According to information found from a Lloyds Bank survey – which analysed more than 200 UK manufacturers – 59% of the industry is anticipating a rise in business activity in 2018.
This number is lower than July of last year, which found 62% of manufacturers expected the increase in activity.
However, the levels of growing expectation in firms across the pan-sector UK average is only at 56%, and the confidence in increase was down 6 points shortly after the EU referendum.
33% of companies within the industry presume they will invest more money into their manufacturing businesses, whilst only 18% are aiming to spend less.
More than a quarter of manufacturers are planning on increasing their levels of hiring, at 26%.
47% of firms believe their turnover will expand, whilst 37% anticipated turnover to hold steady.
Just under half of companies are expecting their order books to grow in the first half of the year, at 48%.
It is believed that the confidence in order books is underpinning the overall confidence within the sector.
“The picture painted by our latest Business in Britain survey is a reassuring one, with manufacturers in buoyant mood,” reported Dave Atkinson, UK Head of Manufacturing at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
“Over the past six months, many have grown their order books and this is giving them the confidence to make investment plans. Uncertainty remains but there is every reason to believe the sector will continue to be resilient during 2018 and beyond.”
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’.