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The Future of Maintenance – Part 9 – Does Maintenance need a chatbot?

To level up our consciousness through expanding our awareness we need simple explanations for the new terms in our new world. So, what is a chatbot? And, How we can use it for maintenance easily? Also, Which type of chatbot would serve maintenance better.

A healthy maintenance process is not running in an isolated silo but does this need a chatbot. For this to happen, the maintenance team need to have open eyes and minds to the technology evolution and technology revolutions that are already available in our world or are coming in the pipe line. That’s why we are on a mission to make a better maintained world through conscious maintenance teams. A Conscious maintenance team is aware of the opportunities available for them. Consciousness requires awareness of the environment around us and how we can manipulate it or at least make use of it..

To level up our consciousness through expanding our awareness we need simple explanations for the new terms in our new world. So, what is a chatbot?, What is a ChatGPT?, How they differ from a search engine? and, Where does AI fit in all these technologies? When we answer these questions we can build an understanding if we need a chatbot or similar technologies? Moreover, we will know the efforts needed for building it? And, what we shall gain from this?

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What is a chatbot? Can it be used for maintenance?

Chatbots started well before the AI – Artificial Intelligence – . Chatbots target was to “simulate natural human chat in an interesting, entertaining and humorous manner”. It started in the 1990’s as university projects. Then it was introduced to businesses which have online customer support. It was overwhelming to repeatedly answer same basic questions about the business services while keeping same level of enthusiasm.

The very basic form of chatbots provide the customer with an answer after guiding him through a set of selections and their alternative combinations. It is not far from the user and service manual of any tool or home appliance. It has the frequently asked questions, troubleshooting, operation instructions, etc. Each one of these usually come in table The user navigate through the table till it find the combination of his/her operating conditions. Based on the selections, the user finds the correct settings. In case an alarm pops up, the user navigates through the troubleshooting section and follow the steps to correct the source of the alarm.

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Because the manual search process is not human, it misses the intimacy and the living support. That’s why it wasn’t favorable for many user and they prefer to jump to online live support i.e. “talk to one of our teams”. Because most of the requests are basic and repeated, the human attendants were losing the enthusiasm after a short while.Here came the strictly-guided chatbots as customer support.

How this strictly-guided chatbot fits for maintenance?

This can be a nice quick tool for your maintenance team. This sort of strictly guided chatbots would save your team the time of finding the proper manual and searching within it for the correct information. This information can be an alarm, a spare part or similar requests.

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The system works well for you in case you properly link the machine or tool with the manual. Usual maintenance and operation manuals covers a big range, variations or models of the same tool. Navigating through these options and selecting the correct one can born some errors. On the other hands scanning a barcode or a QR code as an entry point for this chatbot will provide only the relevant information, parts and alarms of this specific machine.

What efforts do you need to start this strictly-guided chatbot or rule-based chatbot?

You need to select the platform that will host this software program. Yes, as you read it is simply a software program that supports some sort of conversation. So, you need a server or some central computer that can be accessed through your internal network. This software program is having an API which is the software interface that users will use to access the data. You can build this small application yourself in the form of drop down menus and teasers or popups that tells the user what to do next. That’s why it is like a conversation. The software program is simply running 24/7 and listening to the requests that calls this port on the server which is listening to any request.

We had covered all about APIs and made it simple in this training: Jump-Start API frontend and backend use & coding skills

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Otherwise, you can pick one of the prebuilt rule-based chatbot software out here in the marketplace. The best one would be a software used for a similar purpose before. So the support team and the setup procedure would be easier and more handy for maintenance application. Also, you need to make a rough plan for yourself about the size of the tree of the questions and answers and the source of data it will access to retrieve the answers. Do you want simple text replies, images, pdf file, cad files, calculations , etc.

What is an NLP or AI chatbot? Does it fit for maintenance?

AI or artificial Intelligence and its Agents were discussed in this series starting from: The future of Maintenance – Part 5 – AI is already here. NLP or Natural Language Processing was briefly explained by IBM as:

Natural language processing (NLP) refers to the branch of computer science—and more specifically, the branch of artificial intelligence or AI—concerned with giving computers the ability to understand text and spoken words in much the same way human beings can.

IBM: What is natural language processing?

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The rule-based or strictly-guided chatbot we had described before might not provide a great human like interaction. But it provides the accuracy in replies that you want for your team. On the other hand, the NLP-based or AI-based chatbots provide more human-like or friendly interactions. There might be a need for it in case you want a hands-free service for your team. So, they don’t need to write, scroll or even, select from a menu. They just ask is in their common words and they see the reply immediately.

In case it is mandatory to use the chatbot in hands-free mode, then you can give the NLP as a trial. However, you need to be picky and ensure that the software provider can interpret the team local dialects and expressions correctly into meaningful questions that it can reply to or elaborate.

This advanced level of chatbots would need a bigger knowledgebase to navigate through for answer. Still you can limit this knowledge base to the your local information and manuals.

If you intend to expand the experience to provide your team with more answers from other trusted online resources, you can connect to services like Reliabilityweb or its AI chatbot for more general queries. However, this will be continued in the coming chat when we speak about ChatGPT and search engines that uses AI.

In Conclusion,

To level up our consciousness through expanding our awareness we need simple explanations for the new terms in our new world. So, we had answered in this chat: what is a chatbot? And, How we can use it for maintenance easily? Also, Which type of chatbot would serve maintenance better.

If you feel you need help with any of these ideas we discussed, drop us a line for initial investigation in the form by Clicking here or request Management Consultancy or Coaching Services From our Store

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By Rezika

I intend to create a better-managed value adding working environment.
Projects and Maintenance Manager with broad experience in industrial plants. Managed Projects and applied different maintenance strategies and improvements tasks in different industrial plants: steel, cement, and food industries.

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