Chatbots, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Manufacturing 4.0 are some of the words that often find mention in our daily conversations around how the fourth industrial revolution has changed the way we have seen industrial footprint so far.
As per an earlier report by Grand View Research, the chatbot market is growing and is expected to reach a $1.23 billion by 2025. It will be fair to say that this growth will need us to innovate and ensure more intelligent BOTs are available with lesser operational cost and more benefits to humans.
So far, the industry has seen conventional chatbots like the support bots or the assistants. You must have come across them sometime or other while using a website as a most common example. If not yet, try being idle for a few seconds next time you are booking a hotel reservation, trying to transact on your banking website you will meet one there.
However, traditional BOTs and Digital Assistants need to be upskilled for a much more Human Centric approach we may call them Hybrid BOTs, these BOTs are an edge above the Digital Assistants who already are based on Artificial Intelligence principles.
BOTs in Discrete Manufacturing Workspace
Infosys Discrete Manufacturing Solution uses the Infosys Live Enterprise Suite platform that hosts key dashboards and productivity solutions (such as workbenches, dashboards), and pre-built analytics including (such as predictive quality, business KPIs, IoT data analysis etc.). The solution also contains chatbots and RPA-based automation solutions in different functional areas.
Infosys offers a Cloud based packaged solution to address the challenges of the discrete manufacturing industry. The solution offering encompasses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) for multiple benefits including predictive maintenance. Smart reporting is another key aspect of the solution. The idea is to provide adopters a convenient transformation platform.
While adopting the solution is the first step, scaling solution to changing business environment is another key aspect of the ecosystem. A lot of organizations today are looking at a reduced workforce to focus on mundane tasks. The thrust is to have employees focus on core areas and redundant tasks; interactions be automated with human touch still involved.
Our digital platform for adoption allows organizations to plug in Smart BOTs to ensure meaningful interactions with both internal and external customers. These BOTs are across length and breadth of the workspace, starting from customer service to financial reconciliation.
They work together with employees to ensure compliance and quality of work. As AI transforms the customer experience our BOT engages customers as they hit our website to tailor questions based on responses to give them the best catalog offering. And it doesn’t stop here, the BOT goes the next step to possible convert the opportunity by engaging with our sales team to log a potential opportunity in our CRM system.
Given the dynamics of supply chain today it’s critical that our sales and customer care team are up to date with latest from our supply chain partners and warehouse across the globe. This is where our sales BOT comes in taking care of Inventory and supplies. And with voice command feature they enable managers to simply pull on the screen latest metrics and allow manage changes.
Our sales smart BOT also allows our fulfilment teams to catch delays in order processing, be aware of the latest status. A lot of reporting as done by the platform is using business intelligence however BOTs come handy when working on tablets or smartphones or monitor to bring up the report based on key words or voiceover and print them out. The BOT also ensures any risks, bottlenecks are prompted on your screen with possible alternatives using artificial intelligence, hence ensuring a resilient organization.
One of the most important aspects of discrete manufacturing space is predictive maintenance and our service BOT offering tracks the temperature, pressure and environmental conditions of the workspace to make sure any alert is sent out at the right time with possible impact metrics. This helps supply chain managers be more aware of the happenings and react proactively rather than reactively.
Last but not the least as organizations transform to cloud and adapt to digital workspaces the human touch should not take a backstage and hence our BOTs still report to human managers.
Why Hybrids are the future…
Today, imagine being on production line as an operator you usually lookup the ANDON board or may wait a call by your manager or sometimes an email on your desktop. That prompts you to take up your task or rather make you aware that either you or your department has something to be worked on and passed to the next department. In addition, walk around the shop floor and while placing the cart confirm work closure by keeping the document sheet on the work table. However, with a Hybrid as soon as something comes in your queue the system pops up a reminder on your desktop and shows you the detail or even better sends you a push notification on your mobile device. Hence, here the BOT is aware of what is going on in your supply chain and talks to you to take up the task in your bucket rather than waiting on someone else say your manager or colleague requesting you to act on it.
And it doesn’t stop here, these BOTs as we mentioned earlier are an edge over the digital assistants you find today. What that means is that any voice, text message is responded. Not only that getting a report output, details of the transaction are just a click or call out away as well. And to look at it from a sustainability perspective they store documents on the go for everyone’s reference, saving those numerous trees for a healthy environment.
As you may have guessed by now, that while these Hybrids are a mix of conversational and assistant BOTs but most importantly, the term is to encapsulate humans and machines working together. There is a lot more to this relationship like taking data from your existing system and allow actual users to be more aware of what is happening in the system and collate data they need on a much faster way. A very close reference to how this comes together in the 4.0 perspective is as below, the below Hybrid/BOT is in the proof of Concept cycle and is aimed to let the order administrators know that there is an order coming their way.
While we wrote briefly about data exchange and ensuring everything is digitized and available on the information highway. Chatbots in general and Hybrids play an instrumental role in 4.0. While we read about it in the coming section, it is important to be aware of multiple benefits Hybrids have to offer
1. The regular paper work, all those prints to move the cart around is reduced. Documents are digitally secured and available when and where you want to.
2. Platform independent access to ensure it gels into your organization with ease.
3. Doesn’t need you to be hooked into the system all the time to know what to do next? It reaches out to you based on the system analytics.
4. Self-assist benefit or as we say, if you have an issue or need to know something – Ask the BOT.
5. Most importantly how it weighs on your pocket. While this is variable from organization to organization but there is a high ROI involved for the manufacturing organizations. Looking at the basics, 24*7 available assistant as against an employee on a shift to start with. Juniper Research suggests they may help reduce around $8B/ year by 2022.
Hybrids and the 4.0….
Most of us are used to ‘Hey Siri’ for quick help or assistance. Then we do not stop at that as humans we want more, we want better. Similarly, for organizations we expect more from BOT’s and with 4.0 even better. Hybrids just seem to fit in for the near future, more to come of course as we innovate, learn and unlearn.
A typical 4.0 footprint is as below. In the digital age we are in today everything is interconnected, there is a critical need to ensure that collection, and processing of data is well in time and communicated to humans to ensure that there are no lags.
As hybrids are aware of the situation, they ensure intelligent conversations happen in this human centric approach. They tightly integrate with the business footprint, ensure that all transactions are well encrypted, and handshakes digitalized so there is no security breach. Being aware of the environment, they are proactive to identify and fix the issue with timely alerts. They also are bound to serve as an interface based on the data in your system or organization something like using apps like Uber or google maps on your device. You may enter a partial address the system pinpoints it and gives you a list of options to select restaurants, drycleaners nearby. A similar IoT based approach with Hybrids is possible within your organizational footprint. Read more about leveraging IoT in our next paper.
We have been working on pilot Hybrids for a big manufacturing company for their plants in European Union. The solution has been to enable them on the digital footprint. There existing system configurations have been leveraged to ensure stepping towards an interconnected footprint does not require organizations to think about reconfiguring themselves. There are certain pre-requisites though, example making sure that BOT only calls out necessary users for which we are leveraging the Human Resource records associated to the workers record. While at an early stage, we do want to maximize leveraging existing system configurations to ensure the start of digital journey does not make organizations think the basics change!
While the solution above is catering to manufacturing companies, Hybrids are not limited to only one single industry they cater to multiple industries replacing a process driven structure with a much dynamic ‘Human Centric’ digitized approach.