US manufacturing reaches 18-month high despite COVID-19
Despite the considerable growth, the road to a full recovery for the manufacturing industry remains long. Following a survey from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), it showed that hiring at factories has remained subdued for a year now, with around 72% of industries reporting growth last month.
James Knightly, chief international economist at ING in New York, commented: “After the scale of shutdowns we really should be seeing a large proportion of firms saying they are experiencing rising output. Jobs continue to be lost in the sector. With COVID-19 cases picking up, businesses are likely to remain cautious.”
The ISM said its index of national factory activity increased to a reading of 54.2 in the last month from 52.6 in June. It was the strongest showing since March 2019 and marked two consecutive months of expansion. A reading above 50 indicated growth in manufacturing, accounting for 11% of the US economy.
The ISM confirmed that the “sentiment was generally optimistic” among manufacturers. The continued improvement in the landscape of the manufacturing industry is encouraging considering the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The ISM added that 13 industries including wood products, primary metals and electrical equipment, appliances and components reported growth in July. Manufacturers of transportation equipment, machinery and fabricated metal products reported contraction. The ISM’s forward-looking new orders sub-index increased to a reading of 61.5 in July, the highest since September 2018, from 56.4 in June. The survey’s measure of order backlogs at factories rebounded as did others for exports.
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’.