Relay business information with Windows 8

Member Article

Relay business information with Windows 8

A North East business has developed a suite of apps designed to help businesses save time, money and frustration.

V2C, a manufacturing consultancy with over a decade’s experience in Lean manufacturing and supply chain, recognised that developments in mobile technology could help businesses become more efficient. The company decided to develop a suite of apps designed to be used on mobile devices that would allow businesses to collect, store and share information on the spot when carrying out audits, documenting best practice or solving problems.

The full Relay suite consists of three apps; the Relay Methods app plus Relay Audits and Relay Solutions. The apps have been 12 months in development and tested across a range of businesses from engineering to food manufacture.

The company came up with the idea for the first app, Relay Methods, while working in a factory that was trying to transfer skills from workers nearing retirement to those who were younger.

Tim Waddington, Director of V2C commented “We were training the factory workers in using paper based methods of capturing Standard Operating Procedures, such as Toyota would use, but in Toyota the Group Leaders have far more time available for standardisation – and so transferring the approach to other companies is often like pouring water onto sand. The thought was, why not capture the techniques using a tablet – taking videos and pictures directly on the device and adding text and sketches – it would be much faster and richer way of communicating.

“The beauty of using the app and a tablet device is that skills are captured and re-accessed right at their point-of-use – not just in a training room environment, so everything can be put straight into action in the ‘real world’– which, in turn, means faster and more effective learning. The app can be used to record the procedure for anything from assembling a product to food hygiene.”

The second app, Relay Audits is designed to make auditing faster and more accurate by removing the doubled process of recording information on paper and then having to re-input it into an IT system. Information can be input directly into the app as it is collected, with the added benefit of photos as evidence for audit scoring. The information is then effortlessly transferred onto a main IT system.

Tim commented “The user can even take a signature to sign off the audit via the Relay app which can be stored securely- it really does completely remove the need for any paper documents.”

The third app, Relay Solutions, allows incidents and problems to be captured and solved where they occur, using the common Lean 3C ‘Concern-Cause-Countermeasure’ approach. This info can then be stored directly onto a company’s main IT system along with details of how the problem was solved to create bespoke problem solving pages.

Tim said, “Relay Solutions can help businesses sort a problem once, share it more effectively and then never have it occur again. It also makes problem-solving a real team affair, promoting collaborative work and better communication. The heart of Lean is about ‘keeping it simple’ and dealing with issues directly in the workplace. Relay provides a springboard for this by putting the systems for Standardisation and Control into the hands of the work teams and saving them time and effort.”

V2C worked with Business and IT Consultancy Waterstons to develop the apps. Initial testing was carried out on the iPad, but while companies loved the idea, they were concerned about integration with existing systems and robustness. The brand new Microsoft Windows 8 operating system offered the perfect solution.

Ross Dargan, Mobile Technology Specialist at Waterstons commented “The Windows 8 platform integrates with Microsoft based systems very nicely; when the majority of businesses use Microsoft this is of course a huge advantage. Windows 8 will also be available on a wider range of devices including intrinsically safe devices, allowing more choice than other potential platforms. The Windows 8 devices are also more rugged.”

Windows 8 is Microsoft’s first operating system to include apps based interface, similar to that used by Apple and android systems, and is designed for use on Windows tablets and smart phones.

Ross concluded “The majority of businesses can use Relay by simply buying one Windows 8 tablet device as the information collected can be shared throughout the business via their existing systems such as Microsoft SharePoint. The initial cost outlay doesn’t need to be huge”

More information can be found at www.relay-soft.com and links to a 30 day free trial of the Relay Methods app.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Amy Crimmens .

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