Cords continues his story about the early days. “I’ll never forget the experience of standing in our customer’s factory for the first time and seeing all the things that start happening at the moment when these gigantic paper rolls are delivered, what the machines do with the paper, what kind of technology is involved, and what kinds of process steps are used,” he says. From the very first day on, this kind of detailed understanding has been the basis of Digital Shift Analytics. And this understanding is gained primarily by talking with the people who operate the machines. “Initially they were mainly skeptical. But after they realized that we really wanted to learn from them, that we were designing all this software for them, and that they could really influence the design of the interface, they developed trust.”
One of the secrets behind the success of Digital Shift Analytics is a rule from the field of design thinking: When you’re developing something, always keep in mind the user who will be working with it every day. Another important principle is: Start with the simplest solution. “We carried out the first tests at our Fabio Perini factory in Lucca. Then we took some simple hardware to our pilot customer’s factory, where we recorded only one measured value of the machine: its speed. Nothing more,” says Delventhal.
That doesn’t sound like big data at all. “But you can use it as a foundation for many other things — for example, answers to questions such as: Why were there fluctuations in the operating speed? Is this the beginning of a problem? Why was there a stoppage?” This is where the machine operators come into play. The Digital Shift Analytics team worked together with them to develop a touchscreen interface where the operators can record events and enter their observations during a shift. “We use this information to look for and identify patterns.”