Acceptability of voice in the industry

Publications

February 9, 2022

The introduction of the use of voice and voice assistance in the industrial field requires the understanding of the criteria of acceptability of this type of technology by their users. How to define these acceptance, usability and usefulness criteria for industrial operators?

Introduction

When we look at the graphics or visual representations of Industry 4.0, we often see the notions of “convergence between the digital and the physical”, “IOT”, “Big Data”, “Robotics” and “3D printing”. … on the other hand, the word “production” no longer appears. However, officially everyone agrees on the fact that industry 4.0 is made to allow production (in the broad sense of the term) more adapted to the consumer, more humane, more ecological and more respectful of the women and men who make it possible. . Isn’t there 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 Digitization

Today in French and European industry, a significant proportion of assembly, quality control, maintenance or inspection tasks are still carried out by operators, journeymen or technicians. In the context of the digitization of the industry, these women and men are assigned, in addition to their usual tasks, the responsibility of reporting data on their interventions or on their profession, to feed their company’s information systems. . These digital tasks are often considered to have low added value by technicians (far from their profession), very time-consuming (takes time) and intrusive in their activities (cumbersome presence of a tablet, for example). Added to this are fears about the evolution of their skills or their responsibility at their workstation, or subservience to the decisions of computers.

However, this transformation of technical professions is inevitable in order to maintain a competitive industry in Europe, increase returns from the field, and optimize production cycles. So how do you win the support of women and men in industrial production, and thus ensure a successful digital transformation?

Building acceptability

Building the acceptability of a technology to its user would therefore become more important than the technology itself. With a view to digital transformation, the support of operators and technicians would become the key to the overall success of plans to improve industrial competitiveness. But then, how to construct this acceptability?

Traditionally, a technology is assessed on its level of technological readiness (TRL scale – Technology Readiness Level ). This scale developed by NASA in the 70s and 80s to do techno-push innovation, is no longer sufficient today. For 10 years, two new criteria for evaluating a technology have been added to the TRL:

  • The operator maturity scale (HRL – Human Readiness Level ): criteria for the perception of a technology that characterize its adoption by the women and men who must use it.
  • The Industrial Maturity Scale (MRL – Manufacturing Readiness Level ): levels of potential obstacles to the introduction of a solution depending on the industrial environment of use.

In both cases, these scales respectively evaluate the perception of the use of a technology for a given need and its adequacy with the context of its use. In other words, a technology can really be used as a production tool only if it is technologically mature, if it is perceived by the operator as an operational aid for carrying out his tasks, and if it can be used in his working environment.

The TRL and MRL associated with a technology depend respectively on intrinsic technical criteria and on the environment of use. For a given technology and industrial context, these criteria are therefore more or less fixed, unless the working environment is drastically changed. The variable parameter related to the end users of a technology in a work environment is the HRL. So how can the HRL associated with a technology evolve?

Traditionally, the industry has used the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) published in 1989 by Davis et al . This model suggests working on two key attributes of a technology:

  • The perception of usefulness: is technology useful in my work?
  • The perception of simplicity: is the technology easy to understand?

Increasing these two criteria will increase the HRL associated with a technology. Nevertheless, this exercise can prove to be complex to carry out in an industrial context where the technology has often been known for a long time, where the cycles are long and the operators and technicians already burned by several waves of trials and digitization tests. Yet it remains necessary and sometimes vital for the productivity of the company to increase the rate of use of these technologies. In such a context, shouldn’t one catalyst technology be used to improve the acceptability of another? Could we not use the usefulness and simplicity of one technology to the benefit of the usability and acceptability of another?

An example ?

Software solutions from EAM ( Enterprise Assets Management ), MES ( Manufacturing Engineering Systems ) or CMMS ( C omputerized M aintenance M anagement S yste ms ) have been around for several years in the industry. These technologies benefit from a very high TRL 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. The HRL for operators at the workstation is therefore reduced accordingly.

The digital tools of MES and CMMS today remain complex to use for a technician at the workstation. The follow-up of work instructions or the generation of an intervention report in these tools remain tasks considered long and complex by the operators.

SPIX industry offers the “Spixify Your Industry” program to introduce Intelligent Voice Assistance at the workstation integrated into existing industrial tools. In other words, how to allow a technician to control his MES or his CMMS by voice, while keeping his hands free to carry out his tasks. The addition of an Intelligent Voice Assistant (catalyst technology) to MES and CMMS tools has the effect of increasing their usability and acceptability. Why ?

First of all by responding to the fears of operators: a voice assistant makes it easier to access a lot of information (plans, explanations, photos, etc.) which reinforces the skills of the operator. An intelligent voice assistant allows the operator to upload 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 MES and CMMS tools makes it possible to simplify and streamline the use of these tools for the operator. The complexity of drop-down menus, multiple-choice lists, etc. is erased by voice interaction, which allows the operator to save time and regain confidence in his digital interaction capacities in his company.

Adding a voice assistance solution such as Spix.SKILLS to MES or CMMS tools maximizes their operational use by industrial production technicians. The usefulness and ease of use criteria are thereby improved and thus the MES+ Spix or CMMS+Spix couple inherit a higher operator HRL level.

Conclusion

If the digitization of production processes is inevitable, the efficiency and profitability of this transformation will be achieved only by improving the acceptability of these technologies by women and men in industrial production.

Today, the coupling of innovative technologies such as an intelligent voice assistant with technologies already deployed but underused, appears as a means of increasing their acceptability and usability.

SPIX industry thanks to its Spix.SKILLS offer becomes a major player in the introduction of intelligent voice assistance solutions for the industry. These voice assistants dedicated to technicians in the industry make it easier for technicians to interact with their digital environment, while keeping their hands and eyes free to carry out their tasks.