'We Want to Be More Like Apple,' Says Boeing CEO
Boeing Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney has revealed at an annual industry conference in Seattle that he wishes his company to adopt an approach to innovation similar to that of Apple.
He expressed his intentions to move away from longer, ‘moon-shot’ development cycles which the company has traditionally stuck by, instead opting for more rapid product innovation while looking to improve manufacturing execution and reduce costs.
The aerospace industry can be excused for long development cycles, as years of research and education and training of employees in highly specialised roles is key to bringing new products to market, with almost no margin for error.
Boeing’s Dreamliner project is emblematic of this, as years of testing and re-modifications still hasn’t resulted in total lift off.
As well as speeding up development cycles, McNerney could be trying to tap into the success of Apple’s brand portrayal to the public in light of recent bad press.
The company has been under scrutiny over many of its practices, especially surrounding the enormous amount of taxpayers’ money it receives from the US government. Al-Jazeera has ranked it as the top recipient of subsidies of all major corporations, counting 137 such payments at some $13.2 billion.
Boeing has also angered public opinion by laying off workers in Washington, its manufacturing stronghold, despite accepting an $8.7 billion tax break in order to keep jobs in the area – the highest ever such tax preference in American history.
In shifting towards Apple it is likely that the company would need to refocus away from enormous government projects that consume huge resources and time. Upcoming plans include successors to the 737 and A320, much like Apple’s iPad being upgraded to the iPad2 and iPad Air.
It is not entirely clear however just how the boss intends to adopt the Apple approach.
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’.