August 7, 2023
Supply chain operators are more likely to ask a superior for help or relay critical information to a colleague if it feels like shooting a text to a pal about where to grab dinner after the game. Connected workforce solutions combine accessibility and accountability by employing familiar tech (like iPads) with real-time performance tracking displayed throughout the workplace.
In a recent Auto Supply Chain Prophets podcast episode, Quistem’s Cathy Fisher and I interviewed Kevin Shayer, Vice President Operations and Supply Chain at Allied Wire & Cable, a provider of wire and cable in the automotive industry as well as other industries. Kevin revealed some of the team’s big successes while shaking up the status quo by implementing QAD Redzone. Kevin also indicated “they ushered in a new culture with exceptional results.”
We are used to reading about innovations and cool technologies coming from OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers. Often the industry believes the lower tiers will not embrace technology. However, here is Allied Wire & Cable engaging employees and gaining more productivity on the factory floor through their iPads – making productivity like a competitive game on the factory floor.
Overall, Kevin credits the gamification of workflows for incentivizing productivity. “Everybody is competitive — our goal is to help everybody win. Kevin described QAD Redzone as a rallying point for leadership to revolutionize antiquated systems and create almost magical transformations in connectivity, productivity and engagement. QAD Redzone allowed us to communicate with team members in the most simplistic way, like they do every day with their friends and families, on their mobile devices. Kevin states, “It absolutely increased engagement and camaraderie throughout our workforce.”
As a part of the implementation of QAD Redzone there were 12 Apple TVs displayed throughout the plant. They were located in each department and on the factory floor.
QAD Redzone provided a rallying point to recharge Allied Wire & Cable’s operations. Employees had been doing things the same way for many years. On the positive side, employees were collecting tons of data and information on Google Sheets or through the ERP system. According to Kevin, what QAD Redzone did was revolutionize what was not a high technology business and turned it into a connected workplace. Kevin states, “the real-time data is critical for my team to be able to manage the business and to be able to adjust, course-correct and ensure that we’re doing the things all day every day in order to make sure we are servicing our customers in the way that we pledged to.” Kevin indicated at the end of the day, the one group that won the most with our new connected workforce solution was the customer.
So, what were three major successes from the implementation?
QAD Redzone is a part of the DNA now within our Allied Wire & Cable facility. When trying to attract talent, they can walk them through the plant and show them exactly how technology can function in a way that helps connect them to team members, managers and leaders. Allied Wire & Cable already had a good working environment where people are treated well. However, today, it’s embedded in their culture. So, anybody new coming in the door, it’s all they know.
QAD Redzone spruces up the factory floor, Kevin explained, as prospective clients, potential team members, vendors and other visitors tour facilities. The highly visible new technology is an easy selling point to quickly showcase modern processes in a recognizable way. Kevin states, “Technology enables engagement and shows the employees have a voice and management and colleagues are listening to their ideas.”
Allied Wire & Cable can demonstrate that they are using people’s ideas. Employees directly communicate to the management team and their colleagues can easily listen. Kevin states, “I don’t care what generation you are; people want to know. They want to know how they’re doing. So employees got the ability to know they performed today, and was it a successful day or not. We explain how employees can go home proud because on most days folks do go home with green bars and gold stars.”
As Kevin explained, not only has QAD Redzone increased productivity, but also increased the ability to communicate easily in real-time with team members. Allied Wire & Cable can now make quick decisions and ensure team members are being taken care of in ways that were not possible before. Operators know who is having a “green bar goldstar day” and who is struggling. Everything done at Allied Wire & Cable around QAD Redzone is done with positive reinforcement.
QAD Redzone provides the data for daily shift huddles to evaluate how the day is going with the idea that no one ever wants to go through the course of an entire shift or workday and know there is a problem. They can now course-correct and make the appropriate adjustments or provide the right levels of training and support when it’s needed. Kevin states, “It’s given us a platform to make sure that we are communicating between shifts, which is not always an easy thing to do. It helps to ensure that we’re aligned as a team.”
In addition, anybody can walk up and down the plant and know exactly how a department is performing. By taking a glance at the monitors, they know which departments are struggling with performing and which are having an awesome day. From an operator perspective they can see their own personal performance. However, they can easily chat amongst the different departments and even reach out to a manager. Kevin states, “As a leader, I can be sitting on my couch at night and see what the second shift is doing. I know whether or not they are having a good night.”
The hidden secret about the value of QAD Redzone is the gamification aspect of the tool. Most people are competitive and want to win. The goal as the Allied Wire & Cable leadership team is to help everybody win on the floor. This is why scoreboards are important on the floor. At the end of the day, employees want to know the score, they want to leave at the end of the workday and know if they had a good day or not.
Consistent and constant feedback helps to keep people engaged in what they are doing every day. The leadership team emphasizes positive reinforcement by celebrating accomplishments through visible stats and addressing issues in real-time.
QAD Redzone, at its core, is centered around Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). This was a new KPI for Allied Wire & Cable coming into the project. At the outset of the project, their OEE was pretty low. Today, they have more than doubled their OEE percentage.
Within two months, Allied Wire & Cable increased productivity by over 100 percent. Kevin indicates, “I’m half embarrassed to tell you that, however, on the other side of the project, I am also proud of it.” They eliminated the backlogs. Kevin states, “This was really done by challenging the status quo.”
Another metric that has improved is employee retention. Allied Wire & Cable likes to measure regrettable turnover. They have seen a roughly 50% decline in regrettable turnover over the course of the last 16 months. Additionally, through the course of the project with the productivity gains that Allied Wire & Cable achieved they found out they were overstaffed. They went almost an entire year without hiring. Today they have right-sized the workload.
Kevin states, “We have also seen improvements and on-time delivery and our quality metrics have gone up. It is not all attributable to QAD Redzone, but much of it absolutely is with the teams rallying behind it by leveraging the QAD Redzone platform for improvement.”
At the end of the day, the group that has won the most has been our customers. With the reduction in lead times it has allowed them to be more responsive to get products out the door faster and to deliver on time in ways that they were not able to in the past. They have not only seen improvements in on-time departure but also in quality.
The cost of service was reduced significantly. Kevin indicates, “At the end of the day, it’s really all about servicing our customers, which is not only our external customers, but our internal team members too. Everybody’s winning through QAD Redzone.”
Allied Wire & Cable was able to get real-time information and data to make better decisions and better understand their capacities, weaknesses and strengths. It’s given them the opportunity to glean discipline around regular communication with their team members and management team. In the end, QAD Redzone Connected Workforce facilitates continuous improvement, which is what this solution is all about. As Kevin concludes, “It’s been pretty magical, the transformation that I’ve seen over the last year.”
We encourage you to listen to the full episode with Kevin to learn more.