MMS Blog

Chatbot is an app enabling humans and machines, in this case you and Porta Solutions’ Multicenter flexible machine, to briefly co-exist in the same dimension.

Developed in partnership with Cisco, the Porta Multicenter Chatbot is one of the first applications enabling an interactive dialog between a person and a machine tool. In this context, the person (operator, maintenance, manager, even the CEO) can easily interact with the machine without any skill or training needed besides the experience of speaking to a smartphone app.

If you are familiar with our annual Top Shops benchmarking program, you know we have an Honors Program in which we select shops in the top-20-percent benchmarking group that are particularly notable in one of the four main survey sections: machining technology, shopfloor practices, business strategies and human resources. This year’s winning shops in those categories are Baker Industries, Hirsh Precision Products, Ripley Machine and Hastreiter Industries, respectively.

We did something different this year to honor those companies. We invited a representative from each company to visit our office in Cincinnati, Ohio, to discuss the benchmarking survey, their operations and the industry in general. (You can read their responses in the article starting on page 90.) We also took them to nearby valve manufacturer and past Honors Program winner Richards Industries to snap the photo used on this month’s cover.

According to the Census Bureau, women make up about one third of the U.S. manufacturing workforce, and more than half of those women work in sales or office positions. Some women, like Allison Grealis, president of the Women in Manufacturing trade association, are dedicated to seeing those numbers grow. Since 2011, when Women in Manufacturing was founded, the number of women in manufacturing has inched upwards from 27 percent to 29 percent of the workforce today, Grealis says. Though it’s a small increase, Grealis attributes at least some of this upward momentum to training and education that is offered by her organization.  

Grealis has two goals for the future of women in the field: more women in manufacturing and women obtaining higher positions in the field. From annual summits and networking events, to online networking services and training resources, Women in Manufacturing offers its almost 1,100 individual members and 51 corporate members a supportive community and resources in an effort to achieve both of these goals.

Can voice recognition replace the pushbutton interface for CNC machine tools? Can the same voice recognition be used to summon the answer to any question a machinist might need to ask? Yes, say Makino and technology startup iT SpeeX. They both demonstrate the new Athena machining digital assistant which iT SpeeX has developed. The startup has the technology running in the Emerging Technology Center for Digital Transformation while Makino (an early proponent) demonstrates the technology in its booth.

The system consists of a headset with shop-noise-canceling features and software running on a shop-hardened notebook PC. The operator uses the headset’s microphone to give commands and ask questions—virtually any command it might be reasonable to issue to the CNC and virtually any question relevant to the machine or job.

The IMTS App offers several capabilities to enhance a visitor’s experience at IMTS 2018. The app makes searching for exhibits and conferences easier, enables the viewing of floorplans, provides an easy way to follow social media accounts and delivers up-to-date information, news and messages. The app also provides access to MyShow Planner, a digital scheduling platform that enables users to visit exhibits and conferences more efficiently and to create an organized itinerary.

With the IMTS app, users can sort, view and compare the exhibits of over 2,000 organizations. Filters such as product category, company name or pavilion focus can be applied to searches. Interactive maps display the floor plan of each building and the location of each booth. The maps can also display directions from the user’s location to a specific exhibit.

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