Helmut Obergfell, Managing Director of Informel GmbH
Does modern technology such as voice control even have a chance to assert itself in automation? I think so! Of course, this will not happen overnight, but in the medium term, the benefits that translate into increased productivity and improved product and process quality will convince the user.
Better than her reputation
An essential prerequisite for the implementation of voice control in automation is that it meets the high demands of the market in terms of reliability. The fields of application themselves are diverse, because plant operators have to enter data in very different areas of automation, be it when changing recipes, during maintenance and repair, in quality assurance and much more. Previously, the work process had to be interrupted in order to enter the necessary information using the keyboard. The constant switching back and forth between the keyboard and the actual work slows down the employee, has a disruptive effect and, in the worst case, leads to the fact that necessary information is not recorded at all or is not recorded thoroughly enough. Voice input brings unbeatable advantages here. Using a headset, the necessary information can easily be spoken while working. The employee has both hands free for his actual work.
There is already a reliable solution
However, many of us have had bad experiences with voice input, for example in call centers. There are two things to consider in this connection: First, the reputation still lags far behind technology today. Second, the operational environment plays an important role. In the call center, you only encounter voice control at irregular intervals and then have to deal with very different subject areas. In industrial use, the applications are significantly more limited, while the frequency of use is higher. Operation and menu navigation by voice can therefore be practiced easily and will therefore function smoothly after a short time.
Thanks to our cooperation with Sikom Software, we can already offer a voice control solution that is tailored to automation and can be easily integrated into existing products as an alternative human-machine interface. The system, based on web services, provides speech recognition via an API (interface for application programming). This enables the user to integrate them into existing software systems without having to worry about the connection to the telecommunications system or speech recognition or synthesis. Incidentally, speaker verification can also be very easily integrated, for which there are also numerous exciting applications in industrial use. Technology and solutions are therefore ready for use, the only thing missing is user acceptance.