App suite could transform factory methods, says software firm

A MANUFACTURING consultancy firm has developed a suite of apps which it believes could transform production line problem-solving and training, and dispense with the need for paper audits in factories.

Durham-based V2C has designed three apps to be used on mobile devices such as phones or tablets which allow businesses to collect, store and instantly share information when carrying out audits, training or solving problems in every production industry from engineering to food manufacture.

The Relay suite – Relay Methods, Relay Audits and Relay Solutions – has been been 12 months in development and are already being used by British Engines subsidiary Rotary Power, with positive feedback.

The company came up with the idea for the first app, Relay Methods, while working in a factory that was trying to transfer skills from workers nearing retirement to those who were younger.

The firm immediately identified difficulties with training people using paper instructions for reference. They came up with idea of using a tablet to show trainees the correct methods, as video and photographs, as well as text and diagrams, could be used, and the methods can be accessed outside the training room.

The second app, Relay Audits, is designed to make auditing faster and more accurate by removing the doubled process of recording information on paper and then having to re-input it into an IT system.

Information can be input directly into the app as it is collected, with photographs and signatures as evidence for audit scoring. The information can then be electronically and instantly transferred onto a main IT system.

The third app, Relay Solutions, allows incidents and problems to be captured and solved where they occur.

The information can then be stored directly onto a company’s main IT system along with details of how the problem was solved to create tailored catalogue of problem solving procedures.

V2C worked with business and IT consultancy Waterstons to develop the apps, which use the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system to help companies integrate the apps with their existing IT systems.

Tim Waddington, director of V2C, said he thought the apps could make a real difference to businesses, removing the need for paper audits and transforming training and problem-solving.

“With Relay Methods, the beauty of using the app and a tablet device is that skills are captured and re-accessed right at their point-of-use – not just in a training room environment, so everything can be put straight into action in the ‘real world’– which, in turn, means faster and more effective learning.

“Relay Audits means the user can even take a signature to sign off the audit which can be stored securely - it really does completely remove the need for any paper documents.

“Relay Solutions can help businesses sort a problem once, share it more effectively and then never have it occur again. It also makes problem-solving a real team affair, promoting collaborative work.”

Ian McGeorge, manufacturing manager at Rotary Power, part of British Engines, who are already using the app suite, said: “Relay makes it much easier for my team to create their own work procedures. It saves us a lot of time and means they actually get done.”

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