Meeting exploding demand; easy
Soda factory Jungle Power Drinks BV implemented the EZ-GO app several months ago. Productivity has increased considerably, an achievement that did not go unnoticed at the headquarters in Germany. The Global Operations Director now wants to rollout the app in their other factories, starting with their largest production facility in Germany. How to go about it?
Back in the Netherlands, team leader John is enjoying a nice cup of coffee at the canteen. His breaks have been increasingly uninterrupted as of late, because the autonomous maintenance is running smoothly and the EZ-GO app enables operators to easily start up their own lines, complete checklists and conduct audits on their own. Operators even use the app to report minor issues, but those have become exceedingly rare. As John gets up to return to the factory floor, his phone rings: an unknown number from Germany. He is not surprised. Global Operations Director Herr Müller was here last week, and he was so enthusiastic, it must be him with some additional questions.
‘Good afternoon, this is John Veldman.’
‘Guten tag, Herr Veldman, this is Wolfgang Sandburg from head office in Münich.’
‘Ah, good morning, how can I help you?’
Herr Müller has been busy. As it turns out, he appointed Wolfgang Sandburg to International Project Manager with the responsibility of implementing the EZ-GO app in all sixty Jungle Power factories worldwide, starting with the main production site in Germany. Apparently, Herr Müller simply told Wolfgang that he wants ‘what they’ve got in the Netherlands.’ Wolfgang doesn’t seem quite comfortable with the idea just yet and begins to fire questions at John.
‘Why is that app necessary?’ He almost sounds angry. ‘We cleaned up all procedures last year and put them in an organised list, why should we work with an app? I may be the project manager, but to be perfectly frank: I am not quite convinced of its necessity.’
John smiles because he knows the feeling; barely six months ago, he and his colleagues thought the exact same thing. Today, they cannot imagine ever having worked without it. All the bureaucratic inefficiency, always scanning huge lists to find the right checks for that moment in time and that particular machine, wasting time putting completed audits back into the right folder. And this was the best-case scenario; there was no room for improvement whatsoever. Today, selecting the right actions from a list of five thousand items, is easy as pie. Attached photos and videos clearly communicate how to execute those items. Reporting improvement suggestions is a matter of tapping a button. As a result, efficiency has increased considerably, which was a very welcome development.
‘Wolfgang, have you been dealing with a huge increase in demand, just like we have?’
‘Certainly, since Forbes labelled our beverage as ‘Today’s business man’s secret power juice’, we have been getting orders from all of the world’s business centres.’
‘Exactly, so your production efficiency needs to improve, am I right?’
‘Excuse me, but where are you going with this?’
‘Ever since we implemented the app, our productivity has increased by thirty percent, didn’t Herr Müller show you?’
‘Yes, but you had already implemented autonomous maintenance, we haven’t even started the process yet.’
‘There is no need to. You can experience the benefits of the app starting today. Immediately, even without ever having discussed AM. In fact, I regret not having done it the other way around. The app is so convenient that new procedures can be entered in no time. Plus, there is no need to involve the entire factory at the same time. Simply start with one section and take it from there.’
‘Simply start, you make it sound suspiciously easy. I need to form a steering committee, a task force and a project team, but before I have gathered all those people…’
‘No worries’, John says in a friendly tone. ‘You don’t need any of that. A small team is enough, let me tell you how we did it.’
Wednesday afternoon 7 August: the demo
John starts talking. About how the guys from EZ Factory dropped by on a Wednesday afternoon to demonstrate their app. John had been joined by his production manager plus six important operators, who received a brief explanation and were then all presented with an iPad in order to ‘play around with it’ based on a fictitious operational situation. One of the operators was highly critical and kept searching for objections, but was quickly forced to conclude: ‘There is just no way of making a mistake.’ A senior operator who was close to retiring, even had an emotional moment when he realised: ‘Now I can finally share all my knowledge.’ The meeting took a total of an hour and a half. After that, each team member knew exactly how the app works.
Monday 12 August: collecting
That Monday, they were gathered once again to ‘just get started’. EZ Factory had offered several recommendations: determine your scope (not too broad at first), collect the lists and instructions you want to enter into the app, make photos and videos of the entire process, form a small project team and reserve a day to feed it all into the app. They opted for John’s can filling line and decided to begin with digital checklists, digital audits and visual work instructions. The team divided the tasks related to collecting the lists and making photos and videos and met the following Friday to feed it all into the app.
Friday 16 August: everything in the app
It was a gorgeous sunny Friday, and yet they locked themselves in the main meeting room with all the printed lists. They put them up on the wall and entered them into the app one by one. The entire room was covered in paper. Every time they had completed a list or work instruction in the app, the paper was crushed into a ball and deposited in the bin. It wasn’t long before someone went to fetch the large paper waste bin.
Meanwhile, part of the team went into the factory and spoke with operators working on the tin line to demonstrate the new way of working. That is how quickly things moved; they would be ready to go the very next week. All that was left, was some good old hard work. It became a late night that Friday. John deposited the last ball of paper in the bin at six thirty. The walls of the meeting room were empty once again, all of it transferred into the app. Luckily, John had made sure that the fridge in the canteen was properly stocked. They ordered pizza, drank chilled beverages in the courtyard and enjoyed the warm summery evening. The high temperature could not prevent John from getting goose bumps as he watched the team; what a magnificent joint effort.
Monday 19 August: kick-off
John couldn’t sleep the night leading up to Monday. He was sure they had done everything right, but he was nervous nonetheless. Would all operators understand it? Those working on his line had nothing left to fall back on: the paper had been removed to prevent people from returning to the old method. Would everyone be able to do it? Including senior colleagues? After an uneasy night’s sleep, he woke up at four o’clock for the morning shift, got dressed and made sure he was the first one on the scene.
The iPads were in place, his project team was ready to help others, the first kick-off began and John kept pacing from machine to machine until one of the operators told him to relax.
‘This is so easy, I really don’t need any help. Go get yourself some coffee or something, we’ve got this.’
John could barely believe it. Twelve days had passed since the demo and they were operational already. The operators handled the iPads as if they had been using them forever; perfectly at ease.
The team leader of the bottles line approached him in the first coffee break. ‘Why haven’t we got this yet?’
Wolfgang had been listening to John’s story in awe. Could it really have been this easy?
‘Yes, it really is this easy. It is important to start small, with a production line that is transparent and not overly complicated. This will show people how easy it is, allowing you to take the next step. We needed a total of four months to implement the app in all five lines, including assessment and improvements. Once you get going, the pace only accelerates from there.’
‘But that means I will have to invite the gentlemen of EZ Factory for every stage, that is going to be quite the operation for sixty factories!’
‘On the contrary, our internal team trained each subsequent team. It is so easy that the initial demo is all you need the EZ Factory guys for. All further instructions are self-explanatory. Another added benefit is that operators from all the different lines and factories now understand each other better and learn from each other more.’
‘Right, so the steering committee and the taskforce…’
‘You don’t need any of it. Simply form a good operational team in Munich, at your headquarters, on a single line. You know what? Why don’t you visit us for an afternoon so I can give you the grand tour and show you how we do it. You have got a tin production line as well, right? You’ll be able to use part of our material.’
Two weeks later, Wolfgang was on his way to the Netherlands. He wanted to prepare himself, but wasn’t sure how. It all seemed too easy. He took another look at his notebook, which had just one item: tour by John. It should clear everything up.
This is part six of a series about the fictitious company Jungle Power Drinks. We describe their experience with AM and the EZ Go app to demonstrate how we can improve the safety, quality and productivity of the operation. Read parts one, two, three, four and five here.
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If you want more information on how to implement Autonomous Maintenance within your factory, or take it to the next level: our partner Pontifexx can help you. Visit their website for more information: https://www.pontifexx.nl/.