It takes more than OEE metrics and lean manufacturing tools to achieve continuous improvement on the plant floor. It also needs people. And, while we hear about new technologies that will “empower the operators,” it’s never entirely clear how a new app or gadget will engage individuals or entire teams.
If someone on the manufacturing line has an idea of how to improve a process, they’ll tell a supervisor about it and hope it was heard, understood, and shared with the management team who could decide to make the change. Unfortunately, managers might be overwhelmed with other projects and put the suggestion on the backburner, to potentially be lost. If only there were a more efficient way to capture and track the ideas percolating up from the plant floor. And now there is.
Rever, a start-up founded in 2015, leverages the principles of lean management—maximizing value by minimizing waste—and applies it to the human process. The purpose is to apply project management to knowledge workers, and thereby create a continuous improvement culture. Specifically, it’s Rever smartphone Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) app is designed for frontline workers on the manufacturing floor, enabling them to capture and document an idea, experiment and implement a solution, and measure the results.
When an employee submits an idea, the Rever engine uses machine learning to apply statistical formulas to analyze similarities among previously submitted ideas at the company, and then presents similar solutions. By automatically recommending and sharing ideas, innovation and benefits are accelerated, the company said.
For example: An operator might recognize something as simple as an overly long hose on a piece of equipment that might cause people to trip. This is a safety hazard. The app allows the operator to take a picture of the issue, write in the problem, the proposed remedy, and the expected results. Individuals are assigned to the responsibility of testing and implementing their ideas. Rever then automatically alerts managers when ideas are completed and and reports the performance impact.
Rever publishes digital and print summaries of each implemented idea into reports so managers can share successes across the company and recognize employees. The app also provides managers and executives with monthly reports that show macro trends, tendencies and comparability of ideas across the organization.
“Success in the age of Industry 4.0 will be determined not just by the power of machine automation, but also by applying collective employee intelligence and innovation for exponential impact,” said Errette Dunn, co-founder and CEO of Rever.
Available in multiple languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese and French, the Rever mobile app provides short tutorials so frontline employees can put their ideas into effect quickly. And, the latest version of Rever, unveiled in June, brings that same simplicity and training to managers and coaches with a collection of videos that help leaders at every level of an organization spread those ideas that can be turned into sustainable innovations.
Maybe it sounds simple. But it works. According to Rever, major industrial companies such as Mitsubishi, Grupo Bimbo, Mars, and Philip Morris International currently use the Rever technology. And, more than 10,000 employees using Rever have submitted over 10,000 ideas for improvements that are driving an estimated $40 million in savings collectively.
This is just one example of a new software supplier making a difference in manufacturing. Is your company offering up something innovative? Automation World is looking for technology start-ups to watch. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me about your company!