It is common knowledge that AI tools like ChatGPT are becoming increasingly popular in the business world, and equally clear that many companies are currently experimenting with generative AI to find out how best to exploit the technology. We at ATA Gears are determined to be among the front runners, making use of the tailwind to benefit our customers. Our team has tested several functions and operations and we have developed our own AI tool, the ATAbot. In the future, our ATAbot will make vast amounts of work phase-based data readily available to the entire ATA Gears personnel. The main function of ATAbot is to support us in working accurately and to save mental energy for better and more efficient customer service. To achieve this, we have devised a roadmap to identify the potential benefits and risks as precisely as possible with this unprecedented phenomenon.
Saving time and energy for more vital tasks
Many companies have already tested and introduced AI as a virtual assistant. It can work efficiently between all office tools and move with ease across various communication platforms such as spreadsheets, emails, slideshows and other collaborative application software. It sorts messages into folders, determines priorities, builds to-do lists and summaries and sets deadlines for us. In a sense, AI gives the normal office tools a new lease on life. And that’s just fine. At least at ATA Gears, this very basic form of AI use has worked flawlessly and saved the people using it significant amounts of time and energy. And, what is perhaps even more important, it also saves stress because AI is super-efficient at stopping the accumulation of undone paperwork. However, we at ATA have taken the use of AI further and developed our own ATAbot to help in gear design and manufacture.
Continuous learning: when tacit knowledge is optimally utilized
Bevel gears may look all the same to the untrained eye, but each one of them is the outcome of well-documented intricate design and material expertise. Referring back to those documents when reviving an existing gear or designing a new model takes time. That’s where AI can help to retrieve information needed from a vast archive of documents and a large stack. It is an enormous help to experts who know what piece of information they need, but still have to check it anyway to ensure process quality. The same function also helps us to train new people faster: they locate the exact and relevant information more easily when learning the ropes.
At ATA Gears, we have been designing and manufacturing bevel and cylindrical gears since 1937. During this time, almost nine decades, a vast pool of knowhow has accumulated. Sometimes what is learned is lost due to people leaving the company – due to retirement or by changing jobs, which is a problem that all companies face. ATAbot enables us to retain all that accumulated knowledge and gives us easy access to it. It is not just inside some individual designer’s head. From now on the accumulated experience and know-how will be an even greater ‘mental’ asset for the company. That makes our learning cumulative, maybe even exponential. Learning becomes permanent instead of temporary. At the same time, the accuracy of data achieves an even higher level. In this process, ATAbot functions like an ’engine’ and a technology demo for data retrieval. That engine and the data it produces will then be integrated into our processes.
Our ATAbot runs on the web browser and relies on a ChatGPT-like user interface. It seeks and locates information in SharePoint, Teams and the company’s ERP. It finds relevant information using state-of-the-art vector database technologies. We could call it a ‘co-pilot’, a tool which analyses large data sets to provide insights and guide decision-making. ATAbot will also be integrated into our process automation.
One clear advantage of our ATAbot over a commercial co-pilot hired on a monthly retainer fee is that our people are not limited by any given number of hours or dollars. We don’t need to rush things through but can spend whatever time we need on a topic – for thorough reasoning and real learning.
The true advantage of AI lies in its ability to enhance overall quality and expertise at the organizational level.
Getting everybody on board
So I am very happy to report that ATA Gears has a whole lot going on with AI right now. As a company, we are advancing every day with the multiple ways to utilize it. Automatic functions and virtual assistants for all ATA Gears personnel and at every stage of our operation, those are our near-future goals. And yet there is one point I need to make clear: As impressive as these advancements may seem, they constitute a mere fraction of the infinite potential generative AI holds for us and other companies.
Tami Komssi, ATA’s Sales Director