Drives and Controls Magazine

Your word is the machine`s command

01 December, 2005

Your word is the machine`s command

A Californian company has developed a technology for controlling industrial equipment using voice commands. VLH Controls contends that its ALVC (Active Listening Voice Command) system will reduce operator fatigue, avoid repetitive stress injuries, improve productivity, and cut scrap.

The patent-pending system uses an operator-independent voice recognition technology that has been adapted for use in high-noise environments. It is designed to integrate with existing controllers for manual and semi-automatic equipment typically operated by footswitches at present.

The system has been tested at beta sites including metal fabrication and ventilation equipment assembly lines. During the tests, it was connected to welding systems and metal shears. The operators reported that they felt less tired, and that their attention was not being diverted to push buttons, to watch PC screens or to trigger footpedals.

"To date, the only voice technology in manufacturing has been focused on inspection, warehousing and inventory applications, while semi-automated and manual manufacturing processes have relied on manual controls and footpedals," says VLH president, Howard Green. "We recognised there is a need for command initiation devices in manufacturing that use technology in a smarter manner than is currently available. Our systems are intuitive and easy to operate - after all nearly everyone on the factory floor knows how to talk!"

The ALVC system can be used by itself or can be integrated into existing safety and guarding systems, such as light curtains and pressure pads. It can also be used in parallel with existing manual controls.