Here’s a frustrating truth about the skills gap. As it gets harder to find skilled labor, the features and complexities contained within machine tools and their controls are only going up. So even if skilled labor exists, chances are it won’t ever unlock all the bells and whistles that allow machines and their operators to craft differentiating work.
But now comes the good news: this is where Athena comes in.
Athena gives machine builders and machine operators a competitive edge. After integrating it, OEMs can simplify machine operation and dramatically reduce training and associated costs, while freeing up your valuable training and help desk resources.
Meanwhile, machine operators have an assistant that helps them perform tasks with better efficiency and productivity. Plus, with Athena on each machine, operators can jump from OEM to OEM and control to control without missing a beat.
WHAT DOES ATHENA DO?
Lesser-skilled employees gain proficiency faster with Athena.
Instant access to instructional videos, PDFs and learning tools.
Perform complex machine functions with ease and speed.
Automate reports and other monotonous administrative tasks.
Automatically compile and report key data from the machine.
PARTNER WITH ATHENA
Athena’s software enables voice interaction on select OEM platforms, and comes with the following features and recommendations.
ATHENA Software Platform
OEM Toolkit Software Development Kit (SDK)
End User Toolkit
On-Call ATHENA Technical Support
READY FOR A DEEP DIVE?
If you want details on why we chose to create Athena and why it’s such a great fit for the industry, you’re one click away.
People of all ages now interact with digital assistants on their phones, in their cars and throughout their homes. Athena brings that same convenience, speed and functionality to the manufacturing environment.
Athena recognizes simple voice, text or typed commands and responds quickly and accurately by way of reports, calculations, instructions, alerts and so much more. It’s a single interface for most machine tool and control brands.
Much like umati and MT-Connect were created for universal connectivity across various machine platforms and data sources, so Athena provides that same universality as an HMI. Wearing a wireless headset connected to an on-prem computer device, the person that needs to set up, operate or maintain the machine can interact seamlessly from one machine to another, regardless of brand or control using Athena. Again, the commands do not HAVE to be given by voice, although it is often the most convenient option. Commands can be typed into a keyboard as well.
Imagine an operator or set-up person that has never seen the control model on a machine. Or, for that matter, imagine that they’ve never used this brand of machine tool. With Athena’s groundbreaking technology, they can now interact with that machine tool and that control instantly. They can use simple spoken commands to:
- CALL UP WORK OR SETUP INSTRUCTIONS
- CALL UP THE PART’S INSPECTION REPORT
- RUN A WARM-UP CYCLE FOR THE SPINDLE
- RUN A WARM-UP CYCLE FOR THE MACHINE
- HEAR RECORDED MESSAGES OR READ NOTES FROM THE OPERATOR ON THE PREVIOUS SHIFT
Those are just a few basic examples. Athena can help with both simple and complex tasks, making new operators more efficient quickly and providing experienced machinists and operators with needed information. With Athena, everyone performs complex tasks quicker.
For OEMs, the OEM Toolkit provides every builder the ability to create their own stories. They can highlight the unique features of their machines, controls and GUIs in a way that separates them from the pack. As capable and powerful as many machines and controls have become, several builders lament the fact that many of these productivity-enhancing features go unused or even undiscovered. Often, finding and activating these functions can be multiple screens deep or complex to execute. But with one simple voice command, Athena brings these features to life while keeping all machine and control safety protocols in place.
While some machine tool builders offer commodity machines for the general market, others focus on specific types of products or industries. With the OEM Toolkit, each manufacturer can build features and functionality into their products by using ethnography to map the actual work of the operator. They can then see how and when the work was done to increase the impact of this interface and improve the machine and operator productivity.
In addition to the OEM Toolkit, ATHENA also has an end user toolkit so that the shop can tailor stories and commands to its operations, including links to its internal network to access the latest prints, process or maintenance documents and videos.
Multiplying the effectiveness of an OEM’s technical and support resources is another huge benefit Athena brings. As difficult as it is to find and retain highly skilled engineers, imagine that you could supply some of the most intimate knowledge and skills of your best engineers to the operators without them leaving your facility. On-site training is costly and can be difficult to schedule between travel, machine availability and production requirements. If many of the things operators most commonly experience can be pre-loaded into Athena, it minimizes the need for expensive travel and time spent by seasoned and often over-booked experts.
As an early adopter, Makino has found Athena to be beneficial enough to deliver new EDM machines with the software pre-installed. Soon to follow are various machining center models, as well as the ability to retrofit Athena to machines already in the field. Several other OEMs have expressed serious interest in the adoption of Athena as an on-machine standard.
The manufacturing industry has long been focused on improving the performance of the machine. With Athena, the focus is on improving the performance of the operator.