Industry Case Studies

Pilot Title Status Description
In Development
Tracking the status of machinery by reading outputs on legacy display panels in a factory (e.g. dials, lights, and LCD displays), using a Raspberry Pi and low-cost camera.
In Development
Tracks jobs when they leave and arrive at company sites so that store managers can track which site a particular job is at.
Temperature Monitoring
Deployed
Monitors the temperature of wax at intervals during a production process providing live data feed to enable live monitoring and visualisation of the process.
Departmental Job Tracking
Deployed
Scans job cards to track which department a job is currently in so that the sales people can inform customers of progress and floor manager can detect delays and ensure that jobs don't get lost.
Pick and Place Utilisation Monitoring
In Development
Monitors the utilisation of key assets by detecting their state (active, idle, off) using the output from light stacks.
Unified Change Management
In Development
Tracks and captures changes on a project, giving users notifications when new changes are introduced to the project.
Quality Management
In Development
Allows users to add new quality issues while performing their tasks on site or in the office, assign these issues to a person to be solved and track whether they are resolved or not.
Deployed
Tracks jobs by scanning barcodes at each workstation and capturing the process times of jobs at the main workstations.
Offline Voice-Activated Vending Machine
In Development
Enables voice activated use of vending machine which aims to reduce the transaction time of vending process and concurrently track inventories in the machine.
Braiding Angle Measurement
Deployed
Monitoring the quality during production of a braided material and alerting operators when the braiding angle is outside a given tolerance.
Digitised Work Instructions for Quality Inspectors
In Development
Making quality record information available and searchable from a central repository. The information has to be dynamically extracted from a traditional record store maintained on an excel workbook.
Digitised Work Instructions for Operators
In Development
Making process information selectively available to the factory floor workers from a central process information record repository. The information has to be dynamically extracted from a traditional record store maintained on an excel workbook.

One company keen to explore how digitalisation could help improve productivity is family-run manufacturer Buchanan Orthotics, which makes modular, bespoke and specialist footwear for clients such as the NHS. 

After working alongside the Shoestring team to assess needs and develop a solution that easily bolts onto their operations, the company is now piloting a job tracking solution.  

Where the company previously used a paper sheet to track orders through the system, low-cost scanners are now being used to digitise the location and status of jobs. This cross-site job tracking pilot enables workers to print tracking labels, record when a job enters and leaves the facility using barcode scanning, and then store all these records centrally in the cloud, so that live job progress can be viewed at any time. 

This simple but effective solution demonstrates the combination of openly available and other low-cost off-the-shelf software technologies to collect and record typical manufacturing activities observed on a shopfloor. Management is able to see where all the jobs are in the queue and how they are progressing; ensure no orders are lost or misplaced; identify capacity issues for technicians; advise customer job status; and see jobs close to completion. 

The Shoestring solution has improved customer dispatch time and enabled production planning improvements. Now that we have seen what an impact such a simple solution can make, we are inspired to look into further solutions. The simplicity of this is what has sold it.
Ryan Currie
Commercial Manager, Buchanan
Speaking at Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring at Fife College (online workshop), June 2021

Business challenge
This medium sized manufacturer uses equipment controlled by legacy panels that interface with shopfloor staff to indicate current operational status, using lights, dials and seven-segment displays. The company wants to enhance their existing manufacturing processes by automating the data collection of the current operational status, but in addition have real-time access to the operational status of the machinery. Consequently they need to convert the panel’s visual variable readout into digital data without modifying any processes. This will also facilitate a more accurate analysis of historical records of manufacturing operations to improve planning while linking the digitally acquired data to other associated processes.

The solution
A low cost vision system was built and set up facing the legacy equipment panel of interest. This system comprises a USB camera connected to a credit card sized microcomputer. In this way, the camera feeds are processed in real-time to capture changes across the panel components, e.g. light going on/off. This status change is formatted and presented on a digital dashboard which is also used to adjust and configure the vision system settings. While this low cost vision system solution meets and addresses Photofab’s needs, it can be quickly reconfigured or adapted to work with a variety of control panel models and makes found in other manufacturing companies.

See how one of Shoestring’s partners implemented a Shoestring solution to digitalise data from a legacy panel in their factory.

The manufacturer wants to have equipment readouts available in real time.
Software structure configuration and installation

Business challenge
This construction manufacturer was keen to start digitalising their processes but unsure of where to start. The digital needs assessment workshop revealed that a top business priority was to know the production status of doors across the shop floor at any one time. With health and safety considerations paramount for fire doors, job tracking could also play a key part in recording the provenance of each step in every door’s manufacturing process.

The solution
To keep it simple at first, the tracking was set up initially at the first and last workstation for the door manufacturing process as well as at the packing location. Using a different bar code scanner at each location, the doors were scanned as they came off the first production line, scanned again as they went through the final process when the door frame was built, and then scanned when they were packaged. All the details from the scanners were transmitted to a central RaspberryPi set up on the shop floor next to a monitor which displayed a dashboard showing the progress of every job. This has given the company much more visibility of what is happening on the shop floor at any one time. It has also helped them improve their systems so that they can track jobs more effectively going forward. Their next steps are to roll the tracking across the rest of the door production workstations and add another modular Shoestring solution – Digital job cards.

It allowed us to get a feel for job tracking and barcode scanning, with very little outlay and minimal input from us, to make the thing actually happen, and see some tangible results very quickly.
SIMON WADSWORTH
Operations Director,
DAVID SMITH
Speaking at David Smith’s factory, St Ives, September 2021

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