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Hybrid BOTs - Your data exchange tool in Industry 4.0

Chatbots, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Manufacturing 4.0 are some of the words that often find mention in our daily conversations around how the fourth industrial revolution has changed the way we have seen industrial footprint so far.

With Automation and data exchange the two key trends of 4.0. It is important to note that they assist key processes like IoT (Internet of Things) and Machine-Human interaction to step into a concept we call 'Smart Factory'. The key principle being interconnection and assistance. Moreover, making sure that automation is not achieved by replacing humans but rather keeping them more involved also referred to as 'Human Centric' approach.

As per an earlier report by Grand View Research, the chatbot market is growing and is expected to reach a $1.23 billion by 2025. It will be fair to say that this growth will need us to innovate and ensure more intelligent BOTs are available with lesser operational cost and more benefits to humans.

So far, the industry has seen conventional chatbots like the support bots or the assistants. You must have come across them sometime or other while using a website as a most common example. If not yet, try being idle for a few seconds next time you are booking a hotel reservation, trying to transact on your banking website you will meet one there. 

However, traditional BOTs and Digital Assistants need to be up-skilled for a much more Human Centric approach we may call them Hybrid BOTs, these BOTs are an edge above the Digital Assistants who already are based on Artificial Intelligence principles.

Why Hybrids are the future....

Today, imagine being on production line as an operator you usually lookup the ANDON board or may wait a call by your manager or sometimes an email on your desktop. That prompts you to take up your task or rather make you aware that either you or your department has something to be worked on and passed to the next department. In addition, walk around the shop floor and while placing the cart confirm work closure by keeping the document sheet on the work table. However, with a Hybrid as soon as something comes in your queue the system pops up a reminder on your desktop and shows you the detail or even better sends you a push notification on your mobile device. Hence, here the BOT is aware of what is going on in your supply chain and talks to you to take up the task in your bucket rather than waiting on someone else say your manager or colleague requesting you to act on it.

And it doesn't stop here, these BOTs as we mentioned earlier are an edge over the digital assistants you find today. What that means is that any voice, text message is responded.  Not only that getting a report output, details of the transaction are just a click or call out away as well. And to look at it from a sustainability perspective they store documents on the go for everyone's reference, saving those numerous trees for a healthy environment.

As you may have guessed by now, that while these Hybrids are a mix of conversational and assistant BOTs but most importantly, the term is to encapsulate humans and machines working together.  There is a lot more to this relationship like taking data from your existing system and allow actual users to be more aware of what is happening in the system and collate data they need on a much faster way. A very close reference to how this comes together in the 4.0 perspective is as below, the below Hybrid/BOT is in the proof of Concept cycle and is aimed to let the order administrators know that there is an order coming their way.

 A prototype representation

The benefits....

While we wrote briefly about data exchange and ensuring everything is digitized and available on the information highway. Chatbots in general and Hybrids play an instrumental role in 4.0. While we read about it in the coming section, it is important to be aware of multiple benefits Hybrids have to offer

  1. The regular paperwork, all those prints to move the cart around is reduced. Documents are digitally secured and available when and where you want to. 
  2. Platform independent access to ensure it gels into your organization with ease. 
  3. Doesn't need you to be hooked into the system all the time to know what to do next? It reaches out to you based on the system analytics.
  4. Self-assist benefit or as we say, if you have an issue or need to know something - Ask the BOT. 
  5. Most importantly how it weighs on your pocket. While this is variable from organization to organization but there is a high ROI involved for the manufacturing organizations. Looking at the basics, 24*7 available assistant as against an employee on a shift to start with, Juniper Research suggests they may help reduce around $8B/ year by 2022.

5.  Hybrids and the 4.0....

Most of us are used to 'Hey Siri' for quick help or assistance. Then we do not stop at that as humans we want more, we want better. Similarly, for organizations we expect more from BOT's and with 4.0 even better. Hybrids just seem to fit in for the near future, more to come of course as we innovate, learn and unlearn.

A typical 4.0 footprint is as below. In the digital age we are in today everything is interconnected, there is a critical need to ensure that collection, and processing of data is well in time and communicated to humans to ensure that there are no lags.


Representation of Industry 4.0

As hybrids are aware of the situation, they ensure intelligent conversations happen in this human centric approach. They tightly integrate with the business footprint, ensure that all transactions are well encrypted, and handshakes digitized so there is no security breach. Being aware of the environment, they are proactive to identify and fix the issue with timely alerts. They also are bound to serve as an interface based on the data in your system or organization something like using apps like Uber or google maps on your device. You may enter a partial address the system pinpoints it and gives you a list of options to select restaurants, dry cleaners nearby. A similar IoT based approach with Hybrids is possible within your organizational footprint. Read more about leveraging IoT in our next paper

Our Solutioning....

We have been working on pilot Hybrids for a big manufacturing company for their plants in European Union. The solution has been to enable them on the digital footprint. There existing system configurations have been leveraged to ensure stepping towards an interconnected footprint does not require organizations to think about re-configuring themselves. There are certain pre-requisites though, example making sure that BOT only calls out necessary users for which we are leveraging the Human Resource records associated to the workers record. While at an early stage, we do want to maximize leveraging existing system configurations to ensure the start of digital journey does not make organizations think the basics change!

Thinking ahead....

While the solution above is catering to manufacturing companies, Hybrids are not limited to only one single industry they cater to multiple industries replacing a process driven structure with a much dynamic 'Human Centric' digitized approach.


Authors -

Sirish Newlay ( is a Senior Consultant with Infosys Limited

Ashish Kumar Goyal ( is a Consultant with Infosys Limited




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