SPIX: a smart voice assistant for the performance of the nuclear industry

SPIX: a smart voice assistant for the performance of the nuclear sector

SPIX industry offers an Intelligent Voice Assistance solution, adapted to the specific constraints of nuclear production, maintenance and deconstruction, with an ambitious objective of increasing the industrial performance of the sector. This solution uses the SKILLS of Spix, the industrial Voice Assistant of SPIX industry.

What is the challenge of digitizing the nuclear industry ?

The development of an Industrial Voice Assistance solution dedicated to the nuclear industry meets the demands of the nuclear industry to increase the productivity and competitiveness of players in the nuclear sector , thanks to the introduction of “factory of the future” or “industry 4.0”.

A major effort has already been made by manufacturers in the nuclear sector in France to digitize, digitize, even robotize, certain tasks. This effort makes it possible to gain in the standardization and reliability of industrial processes. For example, the introduction of “IoT” type technologies makes it possible to generate more structured data in order to ensure installation monitoring, and to better plan predictive maintenance interventions.

Nevertheless, the competence of the French nuclear industry still relies mainly on the skills and professionalism of its operators and technicians in the field . In the French nuclear sector, 2/3 of jobs (i.e. 133,000 jobs) are held by employees, technicians and supervisors who combine strong skills and unique industrial know-how.

In order to increase the sector’s competitiveness, one lever therefore consists in improving the capacities of these players in the field by successfully transitioning them into the employees, technicians and supervisors of the future. As for other industrial sectors, the introduction of innovative Smart Voice Assistance solutions will help meet this challenge.

Nevertheless, the needs and constraints of the nuclear sector induce specific technical locks , particular validation needs and demand increased security . SPIX industry takes up this challenge with manufacturers in the nuclear sector, in order to provide the sector with reliable, robust Industrial Voice Assistance solutions that are compatible with the requirements of the field.

The development and generalization of an Interactive Voice Assistant for the nuclear sector should enable technicians working on production sites or during decommissioning:

  • Improve the efficiency of the operations carried out, through guidance in their activities and access to knowledge libraries,
  • To improve the safety of their interventions , by freeing the operator’s hands from any keyboard/screen input. The operator is thus focused on the activity in progress and has better control of the associated risks.
  • Improve the completeness and quality of the databases : the facilitated collection of field observations will make it possible to increase the data reported and to make the collection more reliable.

Toward an industrial Voice Assistant for the nuclear industry

A Voice Assistant brings together a set of technological bricks derived from artificial intelligence (voice recognition and synthesis, multimodal dialog agent in natural language, automatic language processing, knowledge base) capable of completing a business process and integrated into an existing application of production or maintenance. Its objective is of course to benefit from the power of the voice in the business tools of the nuclear industry, but above all to help technicians in their tasks and to increase the quantity and quality of data reported from the field.

The idea is to radically change the user experience of technicians, to reconcile them with their digital environment by integrating voice and intelligent business assistance to truly succeed in the digital transformation of the industry.

Unlike a consumer voice assistant (Google, Alexa, Siri, Xiaomi, Baïdu, etc.), an Industrial Voice Assistant meets the needs of a technician, which are much more specific than the provision of weather information, for example. The technician needs help because:

  • He must carry out increasingly complex tasks without making mistakes,
  • The instructions on his work order are long and difficult to understand,
  • The instructions are dependent on the intervention context,
  • His hands are busy carrying out his tasks,
  • He must quickly access increasingly voluminous and varied documentation,
  • He encounters problems on the ground that he must solve,
  • He must feed back more and more information from his field observations.

A voice assistant for industry is made up of four major components:

  1. a voice recognition brick,
  2. a voice synthesis brick,
  3. a dialog manager,
  4. a business knowledge base and their associated tools.

An “Industrial” voice assistant must also take into account the constraints of the field which are not those of the general public: the noise of factories, the compulsory wearing of PPE, absent or reduced connectivity, the security of the data collected, mobility , compatibility with existing ranges, procedures or instruction sheets, integration with existing information systems, and acceptability by operators, etc.

The industrial characteristics of the Voice Assistant represent a discriminating factor for most solutions on the market, and its implementation requires multiple skills that go beyond a simple push of technology.

The implementation of Intelligent Voice Assistance solutions for technicians and operators in the nuclear sector responds to a need to improve the sector’s competitiveness. The addition of Intelligent Voice Assistance services in the software tools used by manufacturers in the sector will ultimately make it possible to promote their use by operators in the field.

In general and without precautions, the current digitization process does not yet bring all the expected benefits. The benefits expected by nuclear industry manufacturers from the introduction of Voice Assistance solutions for their technicians are:

  • Time saving : technicians and operators in industry spend an average of 25% of their time on low value-added tasks. This time is mainly dedicated to “IT” tasks of access to information, feedback or misunderstanding. In addition, the “in-zone” exposure time can be reduced significantly.
    An Intelligent Voice Assistant can reduce low-value time by 60%.
  • Reduction of non-quality : The nuclear industry is looking for “zero defects” and must ensure the safety and operating reliability of its facilities. Non-quality is often linked to misunderstandings by technicians and operators on increasingly complex instructions.
    A Voice Assistant can reduce human errors related to misunderstandings.
  • Technician comfort : Changing positions to go to computer equipment, wearing a tablet with gloves, and handling a PC, are uncomfortable situations for a technician or a field operator. “IT” interactions are not always well experienced by technicians or field operators whose area of expertise is not in this area.
    A Voice Assistant helps reconcile technicians with the digital world.
  • Securing people and property : The reminder of safety instructions is a major challenge for industry, and for the nuclear sector in particular. Safety instructions are often misunderstood, hard to find when needed.
    A Voice Assistant makes it possible to recall the safety instructions at the right time.
  • More qualified “field” data : Understanding the reality on the ground, the condition of equipment, and the quality of an installation, in real time, is a major challenge for the nuclear industry. This information can come from IoT data, but not only. Much of the qualified information is based on observations made by men and women in the field. This task is critical and complex.
    A Voice Assistant facilitates the generation of reliable and qualified field reports.

These gains, once integrated into the tools used by manufacturers in the nuclear sector, constitute significant competitive advantages for gaining competitiveness in the current economic context.

With Intelligent Voice Assistance solutions integrated into their digital business tools, manufacturers in the nuclear sector maximize the return on investment of their digital transformation, and improve their competitiveness.

The Spix.SKILLS voice assistant unitary services

The introduction of a Voice Assistance solution such as Spix’s SKILLS within existing applications will extend their context of use (technician three meters or away from the screen) and will add various functionalities useful to the technician to carry out its tasks.

For technicians to work effectively with the help of a Voice Assistant, and for it to be intelligent in their work context, it must have specific characteristics for the targeted business applications:

  • Natural conversation : The Intelligent Voice Assistant allows technicians to speak in natural language with their own words to trigger several actions or pick up a set of information, as if they were talking to their co-worker.
  • Robustness to the working environment : The AVI and its associated audio devices must be developed to withstand the constraints of working environments: noise, humidity, heat, dust, mandatory PPE wearing, prohibited frequency bands, etc.
  • Understanding of trades : the AVI must allow technicians to use all the words and expressions used in their trade. It feeds on the work instructions and all the associated technical documentation.
  • Contextual intelligence : The AVI must understand the vocal requests of a technician according to his work context, a machine state, a system data or the tasks already carried out and those to be carried out.

The Voice Assistance service components are unitary interactive voice programs, which make it possible to establish a dialogue between a user and business applications on a subject or domain. These services are the basic building blocks for developing a complete and consistent Intelligent Voice Assistant for a technician’s work context, according to his profession and the tasks he must perform.

Basic SKILLS exist at SPIX industry without being representative or adapted to a particular profession. They are grouped into categories:

  • Work instructions (white): Components related to tracking work instructions.
  • Voice (orange): components dedicated to controlling the vital functions of the Intelligent Voice Assistant.
  • Utilities (green): components intended to simplify the life of operators. (e.g. unit conversion).
  • Information Retrieval (purple): components dedicated to information retrieval (documents, media) .
  • Internal communication (blue): components to help operators communicate with each other, to contact an expert if they need help.

A project supported by the France Relance 2030 recovery plan

The development, validation and implementation of this intelligent voice assistance solution for technicians and field operators in the nuclear sector is made possible thanks to the support of the French industrial recovery plan .

An AVI-TechNuc development project will make it possible to fulfill the technical objectives and respond to the societal constraints linked to the introduction of Voice Assistance solutions for technicians in the nuclear industry.

Technical objectives

The technical objective of the AVI-TechNuc project is to remove the technical and human obstacles linked to the development of an Intelligent Voice Assistance solution for nuclear field technicians and operators, in order to respond effectively to the gains productivity demanded by the sector.

This “Intelligent” Voice Assistant will benefit from the latest developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and more particularly automatic language processing (TAL), Information Retrieval (RI) and knowledge engineering ( CI). The proposed project, voluntarily ambitious, aims first and foremost to adapt these emerging AI technologies to the specificities of the nuclear field by removing a certain number of identified technical obstacles. It is then a question of developing and experimenting with a prototype of Intelligent Voice Assistance which, with a short phase of industrialization, is likely to be deployed quickly for the greatest number of trades and technicians possible while respecting the constraints. of safety, security and sovereignty specific to the French nuclear industry.

societal objective

The reconciliation of technicians and operators and field with the digital applications deployed in the nuclear industry is an essential key for a successful transition to the industry of the future.

The introduction of an Intelligent Voice Assistance solution controlling and simplifying access to digital tools for technicians and operators will allow them to better adhere to the digitalization process underway in their companies.

The consumer voice assistants with which we will interact tomorrow, with connected objects or intelligent systems will shape our own social system. The voice systems that are currently being developed come mainly from the United States and China. They conform to the values and social organization of the United States (SIRI, Cortana, ALEXA, etc.) or China (TmallGenie, TingTing, XiaoAI). For example, social rules and personal data protection laws like the GDPR apply differently in these countries compared to Europe. It is therefore important to develop intelligent systems, intelligent voice assistants that are compatible with social rules, personal data protection and European security.

Today, it is vital for French industry to have voice systems in line with its values, its social organization, and its work organization.

The relocation of entire production or industrial maintenance sectors, in the nuclear field as in other fields, is part of the industrial roadmap for the years to come. This reindustrialisation of Europe will take place if the workforce is more efficient, generates better quality results, allows a faster move upmarket than subcontractors located in low-cost countries.

With this project, SPIX industry will be able to offer a greater number of manufacturers Voice Assistance solutions for optimizing labor costs in the euro zone. The competitiveness of industrialists in nuclear deconstruction is a major focus for the French industry . This competitiveness will create many qualified jobs in France in the years to come.

The project AVI-TechNuc, which serves as a support for this referencing of Voice Assistance use cases for technicians and operators in the nuclear sector, has received the support of the French Recovery Plan , from the BPI and sector support structures: pole Nuclear Valley , cluster e-Clide and GIFEN .

About SPIX industry

The company was created to develop the use of voice in industry in all its forms: voice control of existing software, advanced conversational assistance to guide operators on their procedures, “eyes and hands-free” form filling by voice, real-time or delayed transcription of audio notes, co- development of a business application integrating an Intelligent Voice Assistant.

A resolutely innovative company, totally committed to the operational implementation of technologies derived from Artificial Intelligence for the benefit of the development of industry 4.0 and the augmented operator, SPIX industry is the leader in its market in Europe.

Since 2013, SPIX industry has been leading a major R&D effort to develop a 100% French Smart Voice Assistance technology “Spix” and build operational solutions in a demanding industrial environment.

Press contacts
André JOLY – Managing Director
Phone. : +33 (0)6 25 17 27 94
Email: andre.joly@spix-industry.com

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