Digital voice assistants such as Alexa, Siri, Sync, OnStar and many others have changed the way we communicate with devices in our homes and automobiles. Whether it’s finding your favorite playlist, reminding you to take your medicine or checking the weather before you venture outside, home hubs tie all your devices and systems into one centralized platform. If you have a smartphone, tablet or new computer, odds are it has a built-in digital voice assistant.
According to Statista, a leading provider of market and consumer data, there will be 8.4 billion devices using digital voice assistants around the world by 2024. That’s double the figure we had in 2020. Voice technology use is growing rapidly on the home front. Now it’s time for it to make its way into manufacturing.
Is this a game-changer? You bet. That’s where Athena comes in.
Leading the way
Athena is the first (and only) voice-operated and productivity-focused digital assistant specifically designed for use on the shop floor. Now, operators can use simple voice commands to interact with machine tools, regardless of brand. If you’re the quiet type, you can also communicate with Athena in your favorite way, including keyboard and touchscreen.
This technology is vital to the manufacturing sector as it exists today. The skilled labor shortage, which was already a serious issue, has been made even worse by the COVID pandemic. Shops must find a way to achieve the same level of production with fewer skilled workers. Athena bridges the gap by providing a multitude of ways to access training, data and reports instantly.
A guide and mentor
With Athena’s help, even inexperienced employees can prepare, select, set up and run jobs. Imagine if you could afford to have a veteran operator dedicated full-time to coach, educate and lead novices through each job—from warming up the machine to a completed run. Athena can direct machinists through checklists, call up how-to videos and establish a much more sophisticated dialogue with operators through a decision tree, or “Complex Story” process.
Keeping the scrap bin empty is another one of Athena’s strengths. Before running a job, she confirms that the latest drawing and CNC program are loaded. She can also announce machine status reports and alarms. Athena is always multi-tasking and can automatically remind you of preventive maintenance milestones. Even new operators can understand fully what needs to be done. With no guesswork, preventive maintenance is done consistently and on time.
The seasoned professional can also benefit from working with Athena. Today’s machine tools are complex pieces of equipment, and some of the many features are hard to find or access through the control, requiring the operator to go through multiple steps and screens. Athena makes these functions easy to find and put into operation. Your best operators can even multi-task, since Athena keeps them in the loop on a job that’s running on its own while they handle other assignments.
A dedicated digital worker
Athena shows up to work all day, every day, without a break or sick time. She can send you emails on the progress of jobs, and you can respond and give her another task to perform. Athena can also be proactive, sending notifications and alerts in the event of something going wrong with a machine tool for example. And those communications will be safe and secure since Athena resides on a local (on-site) computer.
OEMs benefit as well
One of the main reasons shops don’t invest in new machines is that they don’t have trained operators to run them. Athena immediately solves that problem, helping builders sell more machines–even in situations where skilled labor is needed.
Athena can be configured to work on virtually any CNC machine, regardless of brand. OEMs who offer Athena’s technology on their products make almost any worker a candidate to step up and be productive on an unfamiliar machine. This gives your productivity and quality levels a boost while other shops are slowing (or shutting) down.
With billions of people using digital voice assistants in many other aspects of their lives today, the future is now. If you would like to take advantage of this digital revolution on your shop floor, give us a call. We’d be happy to tell you more.