Douglas Machine has introduced GuidePoint, a comprehensive, portable tablet-based knowledge and support center engineered to address the challenges faced by machine operators and maintenance personnel as they work with the company’s range of secondary packaging equipment.
As Steve Lipps, senior director of Product Management for Douglas Machine, shares, GuidePoint took approximately a year and a half to develop and was created in response to extensive research the company conducted with 20 different CPGs on the pain points they were experiencing in their packaging operations.
“We’re a machine builder, so certainly feedback on machine design and operation and efficiencies is part of the deal,” says Lipps. However, the resounding feedback focused on the critical role of workforce issues, the availability of skilled personnel, and the need for streamlined training and support. GuidePoint was born out of this necessity.
Explains Lipps, a cross-functional team including the technical documentation group, the engineering group, and other functions within Douglas, as well as outside resources were used to develop the system and ensure it was as user friendly as possible. The tablet format was chosen for this reason. “Everyone is used to working on a phone, with applications that are intuitive and work easily,” he said. “To some degree, there’s even a little bit of a play factor with them. If you give people something to play with that they’re used to playing with, they’ll do it, and it’s a way they can learn.”
GuidePoint primarily targets operators and maintenance personnel who work closely with the company’s packaging machines. Its primary goal is to empower these individuals, making them more independent and knowledgeable, ultimately leading to increased production line efficiency.
One of the key functionalities of GuidePoint is its ability to assist in finding machine parts swiftly. In the past, locating specific parts on a packaging machine could be a time-consuming and frustrating process. GuidePoint simplifies this by providing a three-dimensional, drill-down visual interface. Users can navigate through the machine’s components, identify parts, and even access exploded views, all with the aim of locating the required part within minutes.
Another feature of GuidePoint is its fault diagnosis capability. It helps bridge the communication gap between operators and maintenance personnel. When a fault occurs on the machine, GuidePoint can provide a list of potential causes and solutions. Additionally, it offers video fault capture, enabling users to visually review what transpired during a fault. This tool aids in quicker fault resolution, minimizing downtime. “So that’s definitely an in-production help tool to aid in productivity in addition to just educating,” notes Lipps.
GuidePoint also simplifies the changeover process by providing clear, step-by-step instructions tailored to the specific recipe being used. This not only reduces the risk of errors but also helps newer employees quickly adapt to the changeover process. Furthermore, GuidePoint offers a clean view of the required changeover points, simplifying the task for operators. It even provides a smart feature that suggests which points should remain unchanged, saving valuable time during changeovers.
“If you’re an experienced operator, you might just use this list as a tool,” said Lipps. “If you’re a less experienced operator, and you don’t know what a changeover point looks like or how to do it, you can drill down to an enhanced view.” An area is also provided for operators to add notes for future reference or to attach documents.
One notable aspect of GuidePoint is that it operates offline, eliminating concerns about connectivity issues within the plant. It can function as a standalone tool with all necessary information stored within the tablet. However, it also offers the option for remote connectivity, making it possible to hold video conferences or access support from technical experts.
GuidePoint is offered as an option on all new machines from Douglas, and the company is also exploring ways to incorporate it into existing machinery. PW