When we look at the graphics or visuals of representation of industry 4.0, we often see the notions of “convergence between digital and physical,” “IOT,” “Big Data,” “Robotics” and “3D Printing” … on the other hand, the word “production” no longer appears. However, officially all agree that Industry 4.0 is designed to enable production (in the broadest sense of the word) more consumer-friendly, more humane, greener and more respectful of women and men that makes it possible. Is there not a paradox in the expression of the current digital transformation of the industry, which could explain all or part of the complexity of its implementation for operators and production technicians?
Technicians and Digitalization
Today in the French and European industry, a significant part of the assembly, quality control, maintenance or inspection tasks are still carried out by operators, companions or technicians. As part of the digitalization of the industry, these women and men are assigned in addition to their usual tasks, the responsibility of reassembling data on their interventions or their profession, to feed the information systems of their company. These digital tasks are often considered low value added by technicians (far from their job), very time-consuming (takes time) and intrusive in their activities (the cumbersome presence of a tablet for example). In addition, there are fears about the evolution of their skills or responsibility on their workstation, or of enslaving the decisions of computers.
Yet this transformation of technical trades is inevitable to maintain a competitive industry in Europe, increase land returns, and optimize production cycles. So how do we win the support of women and men in industrial production, and thus ensure a successful digital transformation?
Building the acceptability of a technology to its user would therefore become more important than the technology itself. From a digital transformation perspective, the support of operators and technicians would become the key to the overall success of plans to improve industrial competitiveness. But then, how do we build this acceptability?
Traditionally, a technology is evaluated on its level of technological maturity (TRL scale) Technology Readiness Level). This scale, developed by NASA in the 1970s and 1980s to make techno-push innovation is no longer sufficient. Over the past 10 years, two new criteria for evaluating a technology have complemented the LRT:
- The Human ReadinessLevel (HRL): criteria for Levelthe perception of a technology that characterize its adoption by women and men who must use it.
- The Industrial Manufacturing ReadinessLevel (MRL): Levelfrom potential brake levels to the introduction of a solution based on the industrial operating environment.
In both cases, these scales assess, respectively, the perception of the use of a technology for a given need and its suitability with the context of its use. In other words, a technology can actually be used as a production tool only if it is technologically mature, if it is perceived by the operator as an operational aid to the performance of its tasks, and if it is usable in its work environment.
The TRL and MRL associated with a technology depend respectively on intrinsic technical criteria, and the environment of use. For a given technology and industrial context, these criteria are therefore more or less fixed, unless the work environment is drastically changed. The variable parameter in relation to end-users of a technology in a work environment is HRL. So how do we evolve the HRL associated with a technology?
Traditionally, the industry has used the technology acceptance model (TAM – Technology Acceptance Model) published in 1989 by Davis et al. This model proposes to work on two key attributes of a technology:
- Utility Perception: Is Technology Useful in My Work
- The perception of simplicity: is technology easy to grasp
Increasing these two criteria will increase the HRL associated with a technology. Nevertheless, this exercise can be complex to carry out in an industrial context where technology is often known for a long time, where cycles are long and operators and technicians already scalded by several waves of tests and tests of digitalization. Yet he Rest Necessary and sometimes vital for the productivity of the company to increase the rate of use of these technologies. In such a context, should we not use one catalyst technology to improve the acceptability of another? Couldn’t we use the utility and simplicity capabilities of one technology to benefit from the usability and acceptability of another?
Software solutions from EAM(Enterprise Assests Management),MES(Manufacturing Engineering Systems)or CMMS(Computerized Maintenance Management Systems) have been in the industry for several years. These technologies benefit from a very high LRD and MRL. On the other hand, these technologies have often been developed with a view to optimizing production or industrial maintenance processes, and little for the benefit of operators and technicians. As a result, the HRL for operators at the workstation is reduced by the same amount.
The digital tools of ESM and CMMS remain complex to use for a technician at the workplace. Tracking work instructions or generating an intervention report in these tools remain tasks that operators consider to be long and complex.
SIMSOFT INDUSTRY offers the “Spixify Your Indsutry” program to introduce Intelligent Vocal Assistance to the workstation integrated into existing industrial tools. In other words, how to allow a technician to control his ESM or CMMS by voice, while keeping his hands free to carry out his tasks. The addition of an Intelligent Vocal Assistant (catalyst technology) to ESM and CMMS tools increases their usability and acceptability. What for?
First of all by responding to the fears of the operators: a voice assistant allows to access more simply a lot of information (plans, explanations, photos, …) that reinforces the skills of the operator. An intelligent voice assistant allows the operator to trace data to the information system simply by voice, while being responsible for validating it. Finally, the operator remains in control of his work: he uses his voice assistant when he needs it.
Then the use of the Intelligent Vocal Assistant(Spix.SKILLS) coupled with ESM and CMMS tools makes it easier and more fluid for the operator to use them. The complexity of drop-down menus, multiple-choice lists, … is erased by voice interaction that allows the operator to save time, and regain confidence in his digital interaction capabilities in his business.
The addition of a voice support solution such as Spix.SKILLS to ESM or CMMS tools maximizes operational use by industrial production technicians. This improves the usefulness and ease of use criteria, and thus the MES-Spix or CMMS-Spix couple inherits a higher level of HRL operator.
If the digitalization of production processes is unavoidable, the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of this transformation will be achieved only by improving the acceptability of these technologies by women and men of industrial production.
Today, the coupling of innovative technologies such as an intelligent voice assistant to technologies already deployed but underutilized, appears to be a way to increase its acceptability and usability.
SIMSOFT INDUSTRY through its“Spixify Your Industry”offering is becoming a major player in the introduction of intelligent voice support solutions for the industry. These voice assistants dedicated to industry technicians help smooth out technicians’ interactions with their digital environment, while keeping their hands and eyes free for their tasks.
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Article by: André JOLY
Press Contact: Laura PALACIN, firstname.lastname@example.org, 05 31 61 85 10 / 06 26 84 55 58
SIMSOFT INDUSTRY develops the first Intelligent Vocal Assistant 100% dedicated to Industry 4.0 technicians. The intelligent voice assistant SPIX is operational under industrial conditions. The “Spixify Your Industry” programme offered by SIMSOFT INDUSTRY puts men and women back at the heart of industrial production with assistants specializing in operator voice guidance, measurement, quality control, and hot structuring of their feedback.
SPIX is a trademark and a registered model of SIMSOFT INDUSTRY (INPI Ref: 19 4 528 622 and 19 4 528 627)