IMEC Leverages Advanced Manufacturing Technologies to Help Rockford-Based Manufacturer Capture Standard Work Processes
With an aging workforce teetering at the retirement door, leadership at Bourn and Koch realized the risks they faced with the lack of well-documented, standardized key steps for their manufacturing build process. As Todd Wells, the Director of Operations, puts it “When tribal knowledge is the mode of operation, cost variances are greater, and the retirement cliff risks are greater because the knowledge is difficult to transfer.” The standard work process they did have in place was not scalable and limited to only one person managing the application and data. They needed something more robust and budget-friendly and wanted to capture the process digitally.
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Todd Wells and his team met with IMEC in August 2020 to explore how Industry 4.0 technologies can make their efforts in standard work more efficient and scalable for the future. IMEC began the process with an analysis of various hardware and software solutions to determine which would best suit the needs of the organization. After eight months of careful evaluation, the team decided on Tulip as the host platform with three built-in applications, along with customized support from Clear Process Solutions. Two months later, they successfully implemented a stable, scalable software that offers efficiency and an error-proof approach to capturing the key steps in build processes. Working with IMEC on this project, Bourn and Koch was able to qualify for an Advanced Manufacturing Technology Services grant, funded through IMEC and the MEP National Network.
Having recently completed a Training Within Industry program with IMEC, a software like Tulip supported by Clear Process Solutions, made sense as a logical solution. Wells states, “It is my opinion that the applications are a great compliment to the TWI program, specifically the Job Instruction (JI) module.” Now the team can easily transfer knowledge, upskill current employees, and train new employees. The three applications allow them to capture text, photos, and video to properly explain the steps involved in completing a variety of manufacturing operations, ensuring the build process is standardized and streamlined.
Completing this project not only solves the short-term challenges of transferring tribal knowledge and implementing a database with a standard approach to capture work processes. According to Wells, “In the medium to long term, this is a game changer in our industry by being able to provide professional training and development while leveraging current technology and tools. The workforce of tomorrow will be attracted to these tools. Everyone wants to succeed and do well; with proper development and effective training our employees of tomorrow will get up to speed faster and better than ever before.”