Virtual assistants are preventing errors at Tower Automotive

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What if your operators could never again make mistakes during the production or assembly processes? How much time and money would that save your business? Undoubtedly enough to merit taking a look at the revolutionary solution proposed by the young engineering company Arkite.

The ‘virtual guardian angel’ devised by Arkite in Genk helps operators avoid errors. Their solution is a 3D-sensor that is quick and easy to install at any workstation. Dubbed the Human Interface Mate (HIM), without actually doing the work itself this innovation helps operators do their job correctly, for example by ensuring that the right doors have been delivered for assembly and are free of manufacturing defects.

Avoiding assembly errors

The first pilot tests suggest that the HIM works well. Tower Automotive, a subsidiary of the Tower International group, is one company that has Arkite’s sensors monitoring its production line. It produces metal structures and components for the automotive industry, including car doors in Ghent.

Feedback from the first customers and demo installations show that HIMs can be deployed for any assembly work, selection tasks or to ensure that parts are correctly positioned in welding machines, bending machines or for gluing processes.

6 advantages of a virtual assistant

“If a worker has to assemble a thousand doors a day, it’s easy for human error to creep in”, Arkite’s managers, Ives De Saeger and Johan Smeyers, told Trends. “Forgetting a bolt or selecting a wrong nut for example. Our system highlights these problems during the actual assembly process, avoiding the need for subsequent corrections. The technology is designed to ascertain in real time whether the correct sequence of steps is being followed during assembly and whether the right components are being used.”

Simplicity is crucial here, as is clear from the 6 strong arguments highlighted on Arkite’s website:

  1. Operators can concentrate on working to deliver higher value added.
  2. The system is based on a blue box that uses invisible light signals to detect and flag up errors instantaneously.
  3. The software is intuitive and self-explanatory, enabling companies to program their own virtual assistants.
  4. The HIM only issues procedural instructions as and when necessary.
  5. The virtual sensors created eliminate the need to install or wear physical sensors attached to cables.
  6. Gamification encourages operators to optimise the way they work.

160 Human Interface Mates in 2017

De Saeger and Smeyers are already planning to market their HIMs in 2016 and are aiming to sell 40 units this year and quadruple that figure in 2017.

The unit cost of €17,000 euro per workstation can be recouped in between 6 months and a year.

Arkite currently has 10 employees, 6 of whom are engineers and programmers, and the company is holding talks with investors in a bid to raise capital of €1.5 million.