Using AI to Help Operators and Technicians

Sept. 22, 2023
Microsoft is focusing efforts around the use of artificial intelligence to create a data-driven collaborative manufacturing workforce.
Reviewing use of Microsoft Teams in the manufacturing industries, Dominik Wee, corporate vice president of the manufacturing and mobility industry group at Microsoft, says it “continues to see strong and consistent double-digit year-over-year growth in frontline workers’ monthly use” of the application. Based on this insight, Wee contends that Microsoft can help “transform manufacturing facilities by augmenting the capabilities of the frontline with AI (artificial intelligence) to help free up workers to focus on higher-value tasks and activities.”

For example, Microsoft is working with Siemens to enable frontline workers to close feedback loops faster and solve challenges together using the new Teamcenter app for Microsoft Teams. Microsoft is also working with Komatsu Australia to deliver end-to-end automation with Power Platform (Microsoft’s low-code platform for analyzing data, automating processes and building apps, websites and virtual agents) and Sweden-based automobile brand Lynk & Co. to create unique processes and prioritize specific customer experiences using Microsoft Dynamics 365 applications.

Adding to its capabilities to empower frontline workers, Microsoft is releasing new AI capabilities for its Copilot in Dynamics 365 Field Service. Wee says this update will enable service managers who receive customer escalations in Outlook or Microsoft Teams to use Copilot to streamline work order creation with relevant details pre-populated from emails or chats; optimize technician scheduling with data-driven recommendations based on factors such as travel time, availability and skillset; and generate draft responses to customer messages summarizing next steps without switching apps.

Critical info at a glance and ease of communications

According to Wee, with the updates to the Dynamics 365 Field Service app in Microsoft Teams, technicians will now be able to see upcoming work orders at-a-glance in their home experience, share full work order details and more easily access Remote Assist with one click to troubleshoot with remote experts in real time if they need additional support to complete jobs.

Frontline technicians will also have access to embedded guides that provide step-by-step instructions, pictures and videos explaining the immediate task.

Manufacturers can also use the app to build their own custom, real-time conversational chatbots using Copilot in Power Virtual Agents. This enables frontline workers to receive assistance needed to complete their daily tasks with real-time responses based on an organization's internal content like OneDrive, SharePoint, designated external resources and direct document support stored in Dataverse (a Microsoft application that lets users securely store and manage data used by business applications). Frontline workers can ask the bot questions about everything from how to diagnose faulty equipment in a factory to onboarding new processes.

With Teams out-of-the-box integrations with devices from Honeywell, Samsung, Zebra and Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola, manufacturing workers can communicate with each other and with multiple departments using Walkie Talkie in Teams by pinning up to five channels on the Walkie Talkie home screen.

Given the need for security to protect this extended use of information across shifts with workers sharing devices, Wee notes that frontline workers can quickly and compliantly wipe their device for the next shift using Microsoft's shared device mode.

Sponsored Recommendations

Put the Plant Floor in Your Pocket with Ignition Perspective

Build mobile-responsive HTML applications that run natively on any screen.

Ignition: Industrial-Strength System Security and Stability

Ignition is built on a solid, unified architecture and proven, industrial-grade security technology, which is why industrial organizations all over the world have been trusting...

Iron Foundry Gains Competitive Edge & Increases Efficiency with Innovative Technology

With help from Artek, Ferroloy implemented Ignition to digitally transform their disconnected foundry through efficient data collection and analysis while integrating the new ...

Empowering Data Center Growth: Leveraging Ignition for Scalability and Efficiency

Data center growth has exploded over the past decade. Initially driven by organizations moving their computer assets to the cloud, this trend has only accelerated. With the rise...