The moment a manufacturing company integrates a new technology into the operations, a newer and more advanced technology seems to emerge. To some, this might seem exhausting, but lean manufacturers are only enthusiastic about improving their systems.
Evidence shows that digitalizing an organization’s value stream offers competitive advantages and increased customer value. Today, one lean manufacturer, AGCO Corporation, is increasing the efficiency, quality and safety of its operations by pioneering the use of augmented reality through wearable smart devices like Glass.
AGCO Corporation manufactures and distributes agricultural solutions that help support farmers around the world. To consumers, AGCO is known for its high-tech tractors, combine harvesters and farm equipment. Their complex agricultural machines require more than 1,000 precise steps to build correctly. Wearable Glass technology is hands-free and makes manuals and assembly instructions accessible in real time. At AGCO, Glass is used in combination with the software Proceedix, a mobile and paperless platform that manages enterprise procedures, work instructions and inspections.
The company first piloted Glass and Proceedix 2014, replacing its current tools, whether it be paper work orders or terminal work instructions. Since implementing Glass and Proceedix, AGCO plants have reported a 30 percent reduction in processing times, a 50 percent reduction in the amount of time employees train on the job (new hire and cross-functional) and a continuous reduction in quality and safety incidents.
The Association awarded the AME Excellence Award AGCO in 2017 for Manufacturing Excellence for its lean and continuous improvement practices, creativity and its innovation in the area of digital transformation.
New product launches, multi-operation and new hire training are easily administered and audited for success using Glass and Proceedix. The greatest value for the glasses has been in assembly and quality, both needing easy and quick access to hands-free instructions, especially relevant to changes and quality.
In addition to implementing the wearable smart glasses into assembly, quality, technical services and material management, AGCO has also piloted Glass in other areas, including welding, paint preparation and even plant tours.
The company’s continuous improvement efforts focus on lean enterprise adoption as a critical component to an innovation culture. Its adopted lean philosophy drives core understanding of business processes and value streams, allowing the company to identify and successfully integrate other digital tools such as robotics, IoT, factory visualization and shop-floor integrated feedback loops with recordable and sustained results.
AGCO’s global manufacturing locations throughout Europe, South America, North America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East have taken full advantage of the value created by digital solutions. At AGCO plants around the world, there are pilots and production level use of wearables, cobots, hybrid laser weld robots, AGVs, 3D printing, AR/VR, machine sensors, exoskeletons, human sensor technology, and more. It doesn’t stop there. AGCO encourages employees to problem solve in their areas. Some AGCO plants shut down for an hour each week to allow multifunctional teams to work on improvements in to their processes and tools.
On October 29 – November 1, AGCO will join thousands of manufacturers from across the globe at the AME 2018 International Conference in San Diego to discuss digital tools that are making waves in manufacturing.