Background

Assembly lines were developed to improve efficiency. Not surprisingly, efficiency is a prime concern of anybody running a manufacturing process. Manufacturing businesses require efficiency data in order to make important decisions, and developers have provided them with very good efficiency-calculating software.

As automation has taken over many of the assembly line tasks, good data has gotten even easier to acquire. Someone in a modern factory would have no trouble pulling up an interface and seeing a live readout of their current production rate. They can even chart this number throughout the day and throughout the week/month/year.

But while efficiency numbers help you plan supplies and chart profitability, they alone don’t help you take quick action when it’s needed.

The User Problem

Machines have taken over, but many types of machines aren’t completely reliable. A machine can fold cardboard into boxes, but sometimes things don’t go as planned and cardboard contraptions which are not “boxes” will come out the other side. Sometimes a machine just slows down.

If a downstream machine has an issue, it can’t keep the line moving, the line backs up, secondary things start going wrong, and it can snowball fast.

 

UX Idea

The idea has 2 main parts.

  1. Monitor the production rate of the various machines in order to calculate the number of units between machines.
  2. Let the user(s) set custom notification thresholds & custom notification types.

The notification thresholds is basically the core of the idea. This way, you can notify more and more people in order to recruit additional help if the problem grows. It would go something like this:

  • 1 extra item between Machine B & C
    • A light turns on.
  • 10 extra items
    • A bell rings (maybe the people on the floor didn’t see the light)
  • 20 extra items
    • The line manager gets a text (maybe the people on the floor are goofing off, or maybe the problem is too big and they need additional resources)
  • 50 extra items
    • The line manager gets an email and a phone call (maybe the text was missed)
  • 200 extra items
    • The VP of Production gets an email (he/she probably can’t do anything about it today, but they can take action to make sure that the problem doesn’t repeat itself)