Orders are pouring in the door; you have the proper equipment in your shop. So, what’s holding you back from having a record year? That’s an easy question to answer. It’s the job market. Finding experienced operators to run those machines is hard and getting harder. You’ve interviewed some great people, with good work records and the ambition to seek out new career opportunities. But they don’t have the machining experience you expected and you’re worried about the amount of hand holding you’ll have to do.

There’s an easy answer to that, too.

Athena is the first voice-operated digital assistant specifically designed for manufacturing. This revolutionary technology lets operators interact with machine tools, regardless of brand, using simple voice commands. In previous posts, we’ve explained how Athena can lead machinists through checklists with voice commands. In this article, we will explain how Athena can also establish a dialogue with operators to provide guidance, assistance, and support throughout the job.

Beyond Checklists

As you may recall, Athena begins the checklist process when the operator asks her to provide a specific startup checklist. Athena visually displays the list on a monitor. She then reads the checklist one line at a time. The operator checks the machine for that item and audibly responds, “done” or “next item” to have Athena move down the list.

For example:

Athena: “Check load station.”
Operator: “Done.”
Athena: “Check air pressure gauges for green.”
Operator: Done.”
Athena: “Check coolant level.”
Operator: “Done.”

This back-and-forth continues to the end of the checklist.

But Athena is capable of much more sophisticated conversations with the operator through what is known as a decision tree or “Complex Story” process. She will offer guidance based on what the operator says and initiate additional questions. This interaction will ensure that all the steps necessary for a successful job will be completed.

Example One:

Operator: “Athena, open program.”
Athena: “Which program?”
Operator: “6Z47RQ.”
Athena: “Do you have enough raw material to run this job?”
Operator: “No.”
Athena: “Would you like to email procurement?”

OR

Athena: “Do you have enough raw material to run this job?”
Operator: “Yes.”
Athena: “Do you have the proper tooling in the machine?”
Operator: “No.”
Athena: “Would you like to email the tool crib?”

OR

Athena: “Do you have the proper tooling in the machine?”
Operator: “Yes.”
Athena: “Do you want to set up a probe?”
Operator: “No.”

OR

Athena: “Do you want to set up a probe?”
Operator: “Yes.”
Athena: “Would you like guidance?”

This back-and-forth continues until all peripheral elements are addressed and the job is completed. “How to” videos and instructions can also be called up if there is uncertainty on how to complete a process.

 

Example Two:

Operator: “Athena, warm up machine.”
Athena: “Are you sure you want to warm up the machine?”
Operator: “Yes.”
Athena: “Do you want to warm up the machine or spindle?”
Operator: “Both.”
Athena: “Which axes do you want to warm up?” X, Y or Z? Or all 3?
Operator: “All 3.”
Athena: “For the spindle, what RPM?
Operator: “6,000 RPM for 10 minutes.”

Athena is in Your Corner

As you can see, Athena is capable of much more sophisticated dialogue than simply following commands. This question-and-answer interaction can provide nervous rookies with constant reinforcement and confirmation that they can do the job without constantly looking for a supervisor to answer their questions. Even information provided on screens can be confusing at first. There’s no guesswork involved when Athena’s voice is in your ears, providing just the right information at the right time. There’s no doubt about it. Athena is a great way to increase productivity quickly without the steep learning curve.

Seasoned professionals will also find the Complex Story capability helpful. Call it a “double check” that will help jobs go smoother before their morning coffee kicks in or deep into the late shift.

If you would like more information on how Athena can simplify machine operation and enhance the performance of inexperienced operators and CNC veterans alike, click here to Contact Us.

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