In this case study we will walk you through the challenges often seen in large multinational companies with a high headcount and multiple systems in place:
- adopting new software across different levels from the shop floor to the office,
- making systems “talk to each other”, and
- keeping to strict security requirements.
Saint-Gobain is an old French company located in 70 countries, which more than 167k employees, having its roots in the Royal Mirror-Glass Factory founded in 1665.
Mélanie Féménias Hansen leads continuous improvement and digitalization projects in Saint-Gobain Gyproc Denmark.
A New Challenge – Improve Production
Mélanie started using Evocon fairly recently, less than a year ago (as of April 2021). Last year she asked for a new challenge at her company and got the opportunity to work with the plant manager to improve the production of this plant. First, she wanted to set up KPIs. For that, she needed reliable data.
On some machines, they already had a system in place to collect the data, but the data wasn’t reliable enough because it was based on operators manually entering the time and duration of downtime. On other machines, the reporting only consisted of the amount of pieces produced in one shift.
The plant manager suggested that they get a newer, better system to measure OEE automatically.
Discovery of Evocon
First, Mélanie did a Google search, and that is when she found the Evocon website. Her first impression was great. Evocon’s interface looked good and easy to use.
Then, reading customers’ feedback on the Evocon website, she noticed this quote:
“Evocon is at the “heart” of our daily follow-ups regarding production, and we also use it on a daily basis to cover the needs of maintenance and activity planning.” Lars Severin, World Class Manufacturing Coordinator, Saint-Gobain Weber Sweden
This quote surprised Mélanie, who didn’t know that Evocon was already used in her group, only in another country. It turned out that a few other companies in the group were using Evocon, the two closest being Finland and another brand in Denmark.
Melanie asked about Evocon on the group’s internal network, and everybody gave very positive feedback. This, together with the fact that Evocon is a “plug and play” solution that comes with a free trial, made a strong case for it to be sold to her manager.
“Domestication” of Evocon on the Shop Floor
Even though Mélanie found it easy to use Evocon, she wasn’t entirely sure how it would go with operators in her plant, most of whom were between 50 and 60 years old, and some of them haven’t even had a tablet in their hand before.
“Coming from my generation, you are used to just being able to download an app and knowing instinctively where to click. That is what I like about Evocon, natural and easy. Yet I was thinking, maybe it’s just me, and I wasn’t so sure when I was presenting it to the operators. But it is actually working out.”
Mélanie did an introduction and initial explanations, how to use Evocon. Then, she left it to operators to experiment with the app for a few days.
Eventually, operators liked the convenience of having to type less, being able to click and swipe. After about a week they could already use Evocon, with some additional help from Mélanie.
The Challenge of “domestication” for the Middle Management
Introducing Evocon to the plant manager was another easy task. He quickly adopted Factory Overview and Timeline. Factory Overview shows him at a glance, how production is currently running. Timeline helps to understand the main challenges faced in the past 24 hours and gives him a good hint on how his day will look like.
But the current challenge is getting the middle management to use Evocon reports regularly.
Mélanie pointed out that it is important to show a specific use case when introducing a new system. For example, if there is a machine that is running at 30% OEE, then showing how to make a report that shows the biggest constraints on this machine has more impact than a training session that explains in general terms how to use reports.
Without showing these specific advantages, the adoption level among middle managers would be low. Most of them are low to mid-level users of other tools (such as Excel). Having to learn a new tool can sometimes be challenging in terms of time to invest and motivation that they may not have.
A Bigger Challenge – Security and Integration
Since the cyber attack on the 27th of June 2017, Saint-Gobain is strengthening the security of their systems. The IT management in Saint-Gobain Gyproc Denmark prefers to avoid external solutions when possible, especially those running on the cloud.
This isn’t an issue with Evocon at the moment because it is configured to run on a separate network and does not communicate with other systems. But eventually, systems need to be integrated, data needs to be unified, and if any of them is on the cloud, that is potentially an issue.
This meant that Evocon may have had to be replaced with another locally stored system. To Mélanie, this was frustrating because Evocon was the most intuitive solution she had found, users of all levels were easy to onboard, and it was working well.
If we had to choose another system, my specification is: “Just like Evocon.”
In order to verify that Evocon can be kept long-term, it is currently being evaluated by the company’s security team.
Once this hurdle is overcome, there is a long road of making multiple internal systems “talk to each other”, share the data and potentially have Evocon as part of their new MES (Manufacturing Execution System).
Unified Data Shows Opportunities for Improvement
Eventually, every hurdle is worth it. Right now, having implemented Evocon fairly recently, Mélanie’s plant is mostly collecting the data. That already provides some benefits, but the biggest opportunities lie in improvement projects.
Mélanie is looking forward to when she will be able to use data collected over a longer time period to increase OEE by reducing idle time of the machines. Some organizational changes and recurring technical issues are the first promising candidates based on initial data. The first improvement project is planned to start after summer.
At the end of the interview, Mélanie pointed out a few things she would like Evocon to improve. She also mentioned that, after having Evocon for a while, the aspects of the solution she loves the most, on top of the user-friendliness, are the customer support and the new features constantly developed by the team.
Both of these strong points – active development and good support – depend heavily on Evocon being on the cloud. Software updates are much more troublesome for desktop applications, and so is the effectiveness of support.
Therefore, cloud brings us advantages as well as challenges. And just like Mélanie, we like them both.
This case study was written together with Mélanie Féménias Hansen, LinkedIn profile: https://dk.linkedin.com/in/melanie-f-hansen/en