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Speech Recognition at Anton Rosenbaum Holzbau


Solution Overview

Industry & Country
Manufacturing - Wood Processing, Germany

Products Used
Speech Recognition

Speech Recognition

Related Projects

“a 100% recognition rate is often required by the customer, which no provider can promise today ...”

“... but manual control also does not offer 100% security.”

Mr. Rosenbaum

Director, Anton Rosenbaum Holzbau
Applications of speech technology in noisy industrial surroundings are rather unusual so it is perhaps understandable that solution providers in this area should be subjected to considerable scepticism from customers and experts alike. However, successful solutions potentially offer benefits in both safety and productivity by allowing machines to be operated without manual control and relatively independently of the physical location of the operator. Work flows could also be improved where continuous manual adjustments are required to feed processing, like the inputting of raw materials. Here, we outline the experiences of Anton Rosenbaum Holzbau, a company which developed and implemented such a system.

The Trigger
The starting point was a generation change within the business which prompted a review of the strategic options available to secure the medium-term future of the enterprise. The company opted for a rationalisation plan based on process improvements from the installation of new machinery. However, new machines needed to be integrated into the existing stock and a smooth work flow established. One particular machine caused special difficulties because continual manual readjustments and tuning were needed. The idea of managing this machine by voice control emerged as a possible way of improving productivity.

The Solution
After experimenting with several voice recognition systems, most of which failed to cope with the noise from the sawmill, the company invested in SpeechMaster from aspect Gesellschaft für Mensch-Maschine Kommunikation mbH, a spin-off from the Hamburg research laboratory of Philips GmbH. Aspect already had a successful track record with large industrial, research or training companies implementing speech recognition within their own applications, or publishers like Humboldt and Langenscheidt integrating speech verification in educational software. Here, a sufficiently robust and accurate system was obtained only after adapting and tuning various components to the target application, the users and the factory environment. Finally, different hardware components - microphones, headphones etc. - were tested until an optimal combination was found
to cope with the background noise.

The Results
Productivity has increased by 20-30% , the consumption of raw materials has dropped by 3% as a result of more efficient and effective use, and the system has been readily accepted by end users. Anton Rosenbaum Holzbau has diversified by developing its own product, VoiceCommande®, which has been evaluated by the Institute of Professional Associations for Industrial Safety (Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut für Arbeitssicherheit). This has led to further improvements prior to launching the system on the market. To date, the company has 3 mechanical engineering companies as customers and 10 systems in Germany, France and the USA have been equipped with its system. Development costs are likely to be recouped in the near future.

A niche product for multi-lingual speech input for a restricted vocabulary has been successfully launched by aspect, and its director Mr. Henning Bergmann, sees a bright future in the diversification and optimisation of Speech Master. Market conditions appear stable, but a real breakthrough is inhibited by continued user concerns about performance, costs and quality.

In this particular area, industrial safety regulations limit the application of speech recognition as it cannot guarantee absolute accuracy. Development costs are relatively high, and short-term payback of investment can only be achieved when the introduction of the system yields substantial productivity improvements. Despite this, Mr. Rosenbaum remains optimistic: "The development and the introduction of speech control are often regarded with considerable scepticism and a 100% recognition rate is often required by the customer, which no manufacturer can promise today. But manual control also does not offer 100% security. As developers and providers of speech control systems, we have again and again observed that such perceptions can only be changed after a demonstration of the concrete benefits of speech control to buyers and end-users alike."

Downloads of the full text of the success story in Word [39K] or PDF [28K] formats are available.

go back  Version for printing Last updated: 12.03.03 10:06

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