Think about how far technology has advanced in the past decade. In just a few short years 3D printing has emerged as a viable manufacturing process. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is automating tasks and fueling innovation. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has emerged to perform functions we couldn’t even dream of, and smart phones, intelligent thermostats and doorbells have made connectivity a part of daily life.
Information is King
As a manufacturing engineer and operations manager at a local meat processing plant, Yannick Desmarais was constantly searching for opportunities to enhance productivity and profitability. But prioritizing continuous improvement projects required validation drawn from hard and reliable numbers. Information that was all but impossible to get.
“It was frustrating,” Desmarais admitted. “I talked with everyone, from shop floor workers to supervisors and maintenance but no one could provide adequate information. Everyone had a different opinion as to what our goals were, why production had slipped, or why objectives weren’t being met.”
Despite best efforts, a pragmatic business roadmap could not be created in the absence of information. As a result, the company was spinning its wheels and could not expect to develop an effective process improvement plan. Adding fuel to frustration was the fact that Desmarais had experienced this roadblock numerous times before in other organizations.
A significant challenge facing the company was excessive waste. Desmarais recognized this but didn’t fully grasp its magnitude until witnessing an inordinate amount of meat on the floor one day.
“I was shocked by what I saw. I immediately stopped the line and assembled the entire department. Opening a box of packaged meat, I dumped it on the shop floor. People looked at me in amazement and I said, ‘Do you realize that every day we’re doing exactly this multiplied by 100?!’ That was the moment I knew things had to change.”
Selecting a line that was consistently falling short of its goals, Desmarais launched a pilot project designed to eliminate waste and improve yield. Data was collected on the line’s 13 scales and a television screen was installed allowing workers to see, in real time, where they stood in relation to production goals. This in turn provided a sense of ownership and the workers began challenging themselves and others to improve the department’s efficiency rate. In less than a month, yield and productivity had increased dramatically.
Desmarais explained that from that day on the department was motivated to improve performance and throughput and regularly asked how much meat had been wasted. They had become inspired stakeholders; and within a few short weeks had transformed their production line into one of the company’s most efficient.
“Immediately people could see and understand performance data and were driven to make improvements. They asked, ‘Ok, so what is our goal? Where should we be in a week, a month, three months?’ They began to communicate why goals weren’t being met and offered suggestions. When management listens and removes hurdles, you get buy-in and ownership from employees; because for the first time they feel as if they provided input and management responded.”
Because of the program’s success, Desmarais was asked to implement similar initiatives across multiple lines in two factories. In addition to productivity and yield, he incorporated improvement steps that accounted for costs such as energy and water consumption. In the end, the company’s profitability moved from break-even to a 6% growth.
Introducing Worximity Technology
That experience opened Desmarais’ eyes to the possibilities beyond meat processing. Motivated to challenge business as usual, he began assembling a team and developed a technology that could deliver similar results to manufacturers of all types and sizes.
“The answer was actionable information. I knew that to be successful we had to put real-time data into the hands of the worker on the floor allowing them to respond quickly to changing conditions.”
In 2012 Desmarais launched Worximity Technology. The company leverages smart digital technologies to replace subjective guesswork with accurate metrics. This insight allows manufacturers, regardless of the industry they serve, to reach new levels of productivity while continuing to meet progressive improvement goals.
Worximity complements in-house resources to accelerate improvement by providing companies with a digital twin of their factory. What’s more, the software is customizable and scalable to adapt to evolving needs.
A fast-growing team of engineers and professionals, Worximity assists its growing user community with best-in-class products and unmatched support. According to Desmarais, the company differentiates itself in a couple of key areas.
“Simplicity is one of our biggest strengths. In just an hour we’re able to install the equipment and start the improvement process. We collect line data through smart sensors and feed that information back to the customer. But it doesn’t stop there. Built upon years of practical experience, our intelligent technology provides actionable information and guidance. We interpret the data to provide recommendations regarding what to do and in what order to make impactful improvements.”
Desmarais adds that the yield component unique to Worximity is of special significance to a growing number of companies - especially those in food and pharmaceutical industries for example and particularly in the face of supply chain disruptions.
Work + Proximity
Too often, improvement initiatives are more of an art than a science. Without hard data and a clear roadmap, progress (if any) is often incremental at best. Worximity was founded on the belief that bringing the workforce closer to the objective, data, and goal of the business, will generate measurable and sustained improvement.
“People have pride in themselves and their company and will push themselves and their co-workers toward improvement,” concluded Desmarais. “But they must have a clear roadmap based on quantifiable data – not guesswork.”