Individual consumers are calling the service of Alexa & Siri to get things done. Do these virtual assistants have a role to play in the shop floor. Let’s explore.
Automation companies are looking at the technology closely. It is expected that companies catering to Industry 4.0 technologies will include the ‘Virtual Assistant’ feature in their product. The industry prediction is that by 2025 other more intelligent systems would be at play. One feature would be the ability to analyse real-time factory-level data and push recommendations to the shop floor in-charge in terms of what needs to be done.
The idea is that the assisted technology will allow the shop floor managers monitor the performance of the machines even while being away from the machines. The technology of virtual assistants can also make the job of the machine operators lot more easy. The operator will have immediate and more importantly easy access to the temperature controls, valves, temperature/pressure readings, etc. through the virtual assistants on mobile devices.
The role of virtual assistants is expected to slowly evolve into ensuring operational efficiency, predictive maintenance for downtime prevention and lot more. The manufacturing process will become more efficient since the manager/supervisor/operator will have information on their finger tips via the virtual assistants. Instead of taking readings from each machine, the shop floor workers will have data across multiple machines/units displayed on their devices – i.e. in one screen and in real time. If you now have your operators running from one machine to another to look at the readings, then this ‘running around and wasting time’ can be avoided totally, to start with.
There are software companies operating in the industrial segment that are moving towards making this technology a commercial possibility in the immediate future. The technology to obtain basic information remotely — using voice commands and without disturbing the operators — like inventory levels, machines in operation, and more is already available.
Future intelligent agents will be able to track the goals, identify issues in attaining the goals and execute course corrective measures.
Smarter, high-end applications would leverage the powers of Artificial Intelligence to ensure production optimisation — or Total Production Optimisation (TPO) as the automation industry wishes to call this technology. The virtual agents would (a) assimilate data from the machine, the operating software, as well operators, (b) process the data using artificial intelligence, (c) develop a model to predict problems before they surface and (d) design a resolution matrix.
We, at Consultiger, are looking at this space with lot of excitement and interest. We will keep the readers posted of developments.
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