I had an opportunity to speak with Ken Fisher, SVP of Product Management & Solutions Consulting at QAD Redzone, about ways the US can maintain continued manufacturing through the use of technology.

Redzone is a leading workforce collaboration and connectivity solution company acquired by enterprise and MES software company QAD.  Fisher told me that MES is primarily a management tool. The Redzone solution focuses on front-line workers, although supervisors and managers also benefit from the collaboration tools. 

They use OEE as one measure of effectiveness because it’s an easy way to benchmark, a good way to compare. However, Redzone acknowledges that OEE can also be easily gamed by operators and others, so they apply filters to try to standardize data as much as possible. Evaluating success does not stop with OEE. They also go to the controller to check on P&L numbers such as overtime hours worked.

A plant implementing a new MES may see a productivity improvement by as much as 2%, while a typical Redzone implementation results in about a 29% improvement.

The solution is essentially an app that runs on tablets but is also accessible by smart phone. It’s intuitive to use applying familiar tablet technologies. But the solution is not just an app on an iPad. Redzone’s application also includes coaching on how to best use the tools.

A few features:

  • Reduces administrative load on operators’ data entry
  • Gives a voice to the operator using various chat and communication tools
  • Employee engagement enhanced
  • Works within a Lean culture
  • Includes a skills matrix to find the right person to fill a slot in an emergency
  • Allows personnel to pinpoint and deal with anomalies during the day

The impetus of the conversation was a recently completed survey of more than 1,000 plants reporting back on millions of production runs.

These new data from QAD Redzone found that 700 factories raised their overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) by an average of 21 points after just one year of using these types of tools. Additionally, a variety of less-tangible benefits were noted, including enhanced communication and collaboration, greater worker engagement and retention, lower absenteeism, enhanced operational flexibility and agility, and more. 

Based on actual anonymized production data directly from the plant and equipment, the productivity benchmark report is the largest and most comprehensive study of plant productivity of its kind. The study includes:

  • Starting plant performance (OEE) benchmarks by industry
  • Resulting OEE uplift and productivity improvement
  • How results vary by continuous improvement (CI) maturity
  • How results vary by starting point
  • Estimated annual savings by plant size

Based on on-site assessments, our Engagement Study explores how 50 plants authentically transformed their levels of frontline engagement by tapping into the laws of human nature.

These plants increased productivity and reduced staff turnover by focusing on these five areas of engagement:

  • Connecting teams and individuals
  • Ownership of performance
  • Autonomous problem solving
  • Enabling cross team collaboration
  • Feeling competent and recognized
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