Hello, My name is Ray White, and I’m a manufacturing barcoding expert!
Today I’m going to demonstrate an inexpensive way to perform shop floor automation using Alexa, and Standard Time, and barcodes. You’ve heard of The Internet of Things, or IoT, right? Well, this is it!
I’m going to scan some barcodes that will instruct Alexa to turn on shop devices. Actually, these barcodes could be used to tell Alexa to do almost anything. As you know, she has an enormous number of things she can do. The list grows daily!
Now, if Google Home is your thing. Everything you see here will work with Google.
Let’s take a look at what I’ve got on my little “Standard Time barcoding station.” The items on this table, beside the tablet, will cost you about $100. We’ve got:
1. A used Alexa device: $25
2. A few Wi-Fi enabled plugs: $25
3. A low-cost computer speaker: $15
4. A junction box: $15 Don’t spend a lot on the Alexa device. You can get older devices from eBay or Amazon. They work just fine.
5. And of course, a tablet running Standard Time, or BC, for barcode scanning
I’m going to scan barcodes into Standard Time, which will play prerecorded messages on this speaker. Alexa will “hear” the messages and perform those tasks.
We’ll tuck the speaker and the Alexa device into this junction box to eliminate outside noise and block Alexa’s response. It’s a nice, tidy arrangement.
Standard Time can map any barcode label to a prerecorded message. I’ve set up a few scannable scripts to play these messages on the speaker. I’ve got:
1. One message to turn on device #1
2. Another to turn off device #1
3. And two others for device #2 (on and off)
You might ask, why not just skip the barcodes, and tell Alexa to do things yourself. Well first off, the computer never forgets. Operators may forget what comes next, or forget to tell Alexa altogether. The computer doesn’t. Next… your Alexa commands may be numerous, or dependent upon the last task performed. Scripts can handle all these situations. It’s much easier than yelling commands across the shop floor. Just let the computer do it.
Okay, ready? Here we go!
It’s like magic, right! So how does it work?
It all starts with Standard Time, which is a manufacturing shop floor job tracker, which you normally use to track jobs, and employees, and inventory on the shop floor. But here, we’re scanning some custom scripts that, in this case, are playing prerecorded messages. Scripts are just one of many things you can scan.
Each one of my scripts in Standard Time plays one sound file from this hard drive. Alexa hears the sound and does her work. Simple!
Turns out, scripts can do a lot more than this. They can send emails. Reorder products. Set job status. Alter manufacturing steps. Alert managers. Lots of things!
Now, it probably goes without saying… Do not use this technique to turn on dangerous equipment. Do not turn on saws, or presses, or plasma cutters. That’s a very bad idea. I cannot stress this enough… bad idea!
Keep it simple, and limit this technique to non-harmful devices. A few interesting applications come to mind. • Air compressors or vacuums • Lights • Heaters • Cleanup robots • Conveyor belts or doors • Whatever you want to automate, it can be done
If you haven’t taken a look at Standard Time, now’s your chance. Go out to the website and download. And let me know if you need help setting up a rig like this. I’ll be glad to assist.