Miracle Stories

AquaCal and Coil Specialist: When Demand Increased QAD Redzone Went Up the Supply Chain

April Edition 2023

During the pandemic, swimming pool sales boomed, as consumers invested in their homes instead of traveling. Construction of residential inground pools was up 24% in 2020 and 21.6% in 2021 nationwide, with a project backlog slated to last until 2023.1

AquaCal, a manufacturer of swimming pool heat pumps in St. Petersburg, FL, has been a beneficiary of this trend, and QAD Redzone helped them drive production throughput and boost revenues, while also influencing a valued supplier, Coil Specialist,
to do the same.

AquaCal Lights a Fire with Paperless Quality Processes

In early 2021, Carl Anderson, Production Control Manager for AquaCal, participated in a meeting to learn about QAD Redzone. He remembers thinking, “This is exactly what we need. Where do I sign? How do we get this going?”

Carl wanted to increase efficiency at his factory. Demand for AquaCal’s products was outpacing the company’s ability to keep up. Whereas before the pandemic, AquaCal had a month of inventory on warehouse shelves, now they had a multi-month backlog of orders, increasing the risk of lost business. In addition, processes were complicated. One heat pump has an 11 step-production process. “With manufacturing, you always have issues,” says Carl. “So, how can you do better today than yesterday?” Carl realized that data processes lagged production issues, which meant that teams were always reactively addressing problems.

“Everybody works together to fix the problem. Everything just runs so much smoother now and morale has increased.”

Driving Productivity with a 90-Day Sprint

QAD Redzone works with all of its customers to achieve five measurable Lean journey goals during a 90-day sprint. These goals include:

  • Creating a visual factory which includes overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) measurements that are visible to all employees, across the factory, in real-time.
  • Coaching production staff and supervisors to adopt Lean production techniques and use collaborative problem-solving skills.
  • Improving overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) by at least eight points by the end of day 90.
  • Achieving cost savings of $500K for smaller factories and $1M+ for larger factories, as verified by companies’ finance functions.

Acting on Real-Time Production Data

After implementing QAD Redzone, AquaCal’s production culture changed. Teams monitor data on an overhead jumbotron with four TVs, as well as on iPads by equipment, an app on their smartphones, and even on their Apple watches. They can take rapid action if they see early warning signs of trouble.

“Rather than waiting for it to become this large issue, everybody sees it right up front,” says Carl. “Everybody works together to fix the problem. All of a sudden, it’s no longer an issue and it doesn’t get blown up. We see those upticks, our productivity increases, our quality increases, morale increases. Everything just runs so much smoother. It’s almost too easy.”

Productivity has increased by 15%, the factory is using paperless processes, and team engagement has grown. Workers aren’t afraid to alert maintenance about possible issues, improving overall equipment uptime. As a result, AquaCal is able to drive throughput on its products, capturing more demand and driving revenues. The company has also created a culture of celebration. In addition to giving workers ‘high-fives’, AquaCal makes process improvement fun. After going paperless, the team took old quality paperwork next door to a new building site and, with the fire marshal’s approval, set it alight on a bonfire.

Creating a Quality Culture That Protects Margins

Digital processes make it easy to resolve questions about product quality. Before, with paper-based processes, it was difficult to understand who was at fault with quality issues. Now, teams take photos, both of the components they receive and of the finished products. There’s no need to point fingers anymore, because quality teams can retrieve digital imagery and confirm that items met quality standards when received or shipped. Carl also said he uses his factory’s QAD Redzone story to recruit new leaders and show them how the company has created a successful culture of continuous improvement, suppliers have also noticed the difference.

(1) Yahoo News

The Coil Specialist Team Travel to See QAD Redzone in Action

Coil Specialist manufactures heat transfer, tube, and fin coils for the HVAC, refrigeration, and pool industries, in Gilmer, TX. Coil Specialist supplied the coils for AquaCal’s heat pumps and was suddenly receiving more orders than expected in late 2021 and into 2022. James Averett, VP Operations and Sales, and Brian Pasquier, Operations Manager, wanted to know why, and what AquaCal’s secret was “QAD Redzone,” was the answer that came back.

On the back of that conversation, a Coil Specialist team traveled to AquaCal’s site and saw how QAD Redzone was empowering frontline teams with pervasive data access and tools. They witnessed firsthand how frontline workers were using creative problem-solving to improve productivity across production lines. As a result, Coil Specialist signed up, deploying the QAD Redzone Productivity Module in October 2022.

“I like the way QAD Redzone allows you to look inside your business because that was something we were desperately looking for,” says Brian. “And so, the thing that really excited us was the level of transparency it helped create into our business and the levers that it gave us to improve performance.” James agrees. “As we met with the QAD Redzone team, we quickly saw that the platform could help us move in the direction we wanted to go in and solve a lot of issues that we saw on the horizon. By investing in technology now, we could eliminate the stress of keeping up with our numbers, so that we can continue to grow and develop leaders to help with other aspects of our business.”

Coil Specialist worked with coaches to deploy QAD Redzone and drive productivity in a 90-day sprint.
The team was able to:

  • Increase productivity by 37% on a key focus line
  • Hold a Kaizen and close out 150 issues
  • Improve staff engagement and encourage more team members to speak up
  • Make it easy to take action with green, yellow, and red alerts on production conditions

“We shared with our teams that QAD Redzone would help them work smarter, not harder,” says Brian. “We wanted to let our frontline teams know that we were 100% committed to creating a culture where they could share their daily struggles with production. Then, we’d work together to put action items in place, and they’d benefit from the new processes.”

“I joined the company about a month or two before QAD Redzone was rolled out,” says Jesse Meis, an expander. “I heard a lot of good things about the platform: that we’d be able to see our stats and performance on TVs and tablets and share information with each other.”

“I was a little worried at first,” says Jeffrey Davis, another expander. “But since we implemented QAD Redzone, it’s been a lot easier to communicate and get things done.”

“37% increase in productivity on our key focus line in 90 days.”

QAD Redzone Inspires Friendly Competition Among Teams

With better communication and collaboration, friendly competition has increased. Jeffrey and Jesse call themselves J&J Expansion and have a catchphrase, ‘Loyal to the Coil.’ They enjoy working with QAD
Redzone to identify and address production issues.

“It’s really easy to take pictures, quickly share information, and troubleshoot production issues with other team members, even if they’re in a different building,” says Jesse. “Before, you had to make a call, but now everyone has a tablet at their station. You press on the menus and start a conference. It’s instantaneous.”

“We’re getting a lot more problems solved now than before, which is great,” states Jeffrey.

Motivating Teams with New Financial Incentives

Business has been so good that the company has implemented bonuses when production targets are met. Using QAD Redzone, workers can monitor targets in real-time to understand their progress towards achieving payouts.

“It’s great to see our performance up on the TVs and get ‘high-fives’ from our supervisors, congratulating us on our work. Everyone is able to see that, and it makes you really proud of what you do and how hard you work,” says Jesse.

In addition, Coil Specialist is using QAD Redzone to compete for new talent locally and recruit senior leaders. Competition is tight for area workers in Gilmer. In interviews, supervisors can share how QAD Redzone helps workers build new skills, move into supervisory roles, and earn more money.

“QAD Redzone helps us create a culture that attracts new talent and encourages existing teams to continue improving processes,” says James.

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