Voice-operated Machining: Athena and OKK
Updated: Feb 7
A majority of people have varying familiarity with voice-recognition technology. Maybe you ask your phone to call a contact or provide directions; at home, you might ask your virtual assistant to create a grocery list or to control other electronics This sort of technology has already begun to change our home-life, but what about our work life?
The OKK Corporation has always focused on technological advancements, and now, machine automation with voice-recognition technology is possible and available on OKK’s CNC machines. Athena, developed by Cincinnati based industry technology incubator iT SpeeX, is the first voice-operated technology assistant for the manufacturing industry and allows machinists to use simple voice commands to operate machine tools.
Athena is capable of performing a large number of functions that assist the machine operator in all stages of machining. To use Athena, the machine’s operator wears a headset featuring noise-canceling headphones and a microphone to communicate with the virtual assistant–the software runs on a shop-proof laptop. State “Athena warm up the machine,” and Athena will begin to run the machine’s warm-up program. From there, the operator can select which program to run, tool to use, and even set spindle direction and speed. But controlling the machine’s operations is only one facet of Athena’s abilities.
In addition to controlling machine tool operations, Athena provides useful information to the operator. Athena is not only able to report on the machine’s performance and the job’s status, but also provide a large amount of maintenance relevant information such as monitoring fluid levels and tolerances and even performing certain maintenance operations itself. This information all contributes to your Overall Equipment Effectiveness.
One of Athena’s greatest advantages is simplifying the machining process for an operator that may be unfamiliar with a certain machine tool or new to machining. Athena is able to perform calculations including CPK, cost-per-part, and remaining tool life. If the operator is unsure how to perform certain operations, Athena can pull up and display the relevant information on the computer. Athena provides access to a machine full range of abilities and data without needing to menu dive or be fully acquainted with the machine.
Headquartered in Japan, with multiple locations across North America, OKK has built and sold horizontal and vertical machine tools to customers around the world. For over 100 years, OKK’s skilled craftsmen have built rigid machine tools with versatile designs that guarantee reliable and precise machining.