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Operator Excellence at Novy: Discover how Digital Work Instructions lead to a 60% reduction in customer complaints

Introducing Novy’s remarkable journey with Azumuta – a transformative digital solution that revolutionized their production processes. Faced with challenges in manual data entry, inconsistency, and time-consuming documentation, Novy sought a cutting-edge approach to enhance quality control and efficiency

A person with short hair is operating machinery in a factory or industrial setting. Various tools, cleaning supplies, and boxes are on the workstation. A computer monitor near the person displays technical information or images. The background shows shelves and equipment.

20%

FTE Time Gain

60%

Less Quality Complaints

1

Month of Implementation
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Company
Novy NV, part of the Middleby Groep and specialist in cooker hoods and hobs.
Headquarter
Novy NV is headquartered in Kuurne, Belgium.
Employees
+260 employees in Novy
Industry
Kitchen industry
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The Challenge

This customer case shines a light on Novy, the premier Belgian specialist and a true leader in the production of cooker hoods. But Novy doesn’t stop there. They also offer an array of premium induction hobs and worktop extractors, making them a comprehensive powerhouse in the kitchen appliance market. Driven by global expansion, Novy has taken the world by storm in the last decades, establishing subsidiaries in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland and distribution partners in Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Israel, and Scandinavia.

From its very inception, Novy has flourished thanks to its continued commitment to craftsmanship and quality, coupled with maintaining a strong pursuit of innovation. This innovation-driven culture has led to the establishment of a digitized shop floor where continuous monitoring is key. In this digital revolution, Azumuta has emerged as one of the fundamental pillars of Novy’s factory, enabling them to push the boundaries of digitization and revolutionize their shop floor operations. This results in the ability to produce groundbreaking products that not only guarantee unparalleled ventilation but also operate in blissful silence.

The remarkable journey of Azumuta at Novy started in May 2021. As the company expanded its operations and diversified its product lines, it encountered challenges within its work processes. Outdated and inconsistent manual methods for creating work instructions and checklists put pressure on their production process, leading to errors, customer complaints and costly production delays. Novy recognized that modernizing their shop floor operations could potentially enhance productivity and reduce errors. Let’s explore how Novy accomplished this through introducing Azumuta on the shop floor.

Overall, Novy’s challenges revolved around improving documentation and process management, enhancing quality control, customer satisfaction and optimizing training and knowledge transfer. Adopting a digital platform like Azumuta offers the potential to address these challenges by streamlining processes, ensuring up-to-date and consistent instructions, facilitating training possibilities, and improving data management for quality control. Let’s explore in detail how we tackled Novy’s main challenges.

Documentation and process management

1. Creating and adapting work instructions

Traditionally, Novy has two types of instructions that are used on the shop floor:
1. Work instructions that guide the operator to produce a product order
2. Quality checklists that were executed after production and ensured quality of the products

The creation of these work instructions/checklists traditionally presented challenges in terms of efficiency, as the process required a significant amount of time and effort to maintain. At Novy, there are multiple stakeholders in this process and in particular the quality department had to spend an enormous amount of time and effort keeping the instructions/checklists up to date.

A major factor for this was that before the introduction of Azumuta, all instructions were created using Word or Excel. While these tools have their advantages, it was highly difficult to obtain consistency across instructions, which led to formatting issues with text and images. Moreover, their non-dynamic nature in terms of creating and adapting work instructions put a lot of strain on the quality department and the efficiency of the shop floor.

For this reason, Novy proactively executed several process audits in order to discover the biggest pain points in terms of documentation and process management for work instructions. Key takeaway from these audits was that they discovered that work instructions/checklists were often not up to date on the shop floor. Due to the cumbersome non-dynamic process of making changes in Word/Excel, there was a major delay between updating and approving the instructions and getting them to the right work station on the shop floor at the right time. Sometimes, the updated version would be available at the workstation, but the old version would not be removed, causing confusion and production problems.

A smiling man with short hair, wearing a black sweater with the text

Azumuta’s cloud-based solution has brought a new level of dynamic updates to our shop floor. We no longer struggle with delays in updating and approving instructions. The accessibility and real-time availability of the latest versions have improved our efficiency and eliminated confusion in production.

Joris Cuvelier
Quality Assurance Coordinator
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2. Optimizing process management

Before the introduction of Azumuta, it was very difficult to assess whether the operator was working with the right documents. As this is crucial from a process management perspective, they were searching for a way to make sure that the operator works with a specific work instruction for the product that they had to assemble.

In Novy’s production process, one product order often consists of several work instructions (e.g. pre-assembly, end-assembly, packaging, etc.). However, there was no conclusive way to ensure that the production process was being done in exactly the right sequence that was set out by management. Therefore, they were also looking for a way to make sure that the operator followed the correct sequence of work instructions.

How did Azumuta help to increase work instruction flexibility?

Azumuta helped to solve this issue by introducing a barcode system that linked each product order to the correct specific work instructions. The operator scans the barcode of the product order they have to produce, and Azumuta instantly displays the correct sequence of work instructions on their tablet. This not only enhances the accuracy of the production process but also makes it easier for operators to follow the right sequence of work instructions. Additionally, it helps the management to track the progress of the product and see whether it is going according to plan or not. Overall, Azumuta’s process management solutions helped Novy to streamline its work processes and optimize its shop floor operations.

In conclusion, the implementation of Azumuta at Novy addressed the challenges related to creating and maintaining work instructions and checklists. Our centralized platform provides dynamic updates, improved efficiency, and reduced workload of the quality department, resulting in increased productivity, reduced errors, and enhanced customer satisfaction. Furthermore, Azumuta’s barcode system enabled accurate sequencing of work instructions, improving the overall process management, tracking progress, and optimizing shop floor operations for Novy.

A factory floor with various machinery and products being assembled. In the foreground, there is a tablet mounted on an orange structure, displaying technical information. Workers are visible in the background, focusing on their tasks.

Customer complaints and product traceability

Quality control goes hand in hand with product traceability. Before the introduction of Azumuta, one of Novy’s main challenges was the fact that there was inadequate product traceability. When customer complaints occurred, Novy had little information about the product order and could not adequately find back evidence such as missing or incorrect accessories, documentation, or the wrong product being delivered. This is why Novy sought a framework that would allow them to store all essential information of the product order in a digital way, resulting in full traceability and efficient approach in addressing customer complaints.

How did Azumuta help?

While going through the work instructions to assemble a product order, the operator is requested to fill in certain information through checks. This can range from a simple OK/NOK or scanning component barcodes to taking pictures from the box that is sent to the customer. In the background, Azumuta stores all information on that product order and centralizes that data. When there is a customer complaint, Novy can easily search for the specific product order and address the complaint by looking through data. For example, when the customer is complaining about missing accessories, they can easily look for the picture of the box content and see whether the complaint is valid or not. This ensures a timely resolution to customer complaints and a more efficient approach overall. The digital storage of product information ensures full traceability, which is crucial for UL certification and entering the American market. Azumuta’s system enables Novy to meet these requirements and position themselves for future growth. In case that there are certain trends in customer complaints, Azumuta’s dynamic work instruction system ensures that the provided instructions and quality checks can be adapted quickly.

In terms of customer complaints, Azumuta provides a two-layer defense system. As previously explained, introducing quality checks during assembly ensures there is real-time quality control and reduces the risk of delivering defect products. The second layer is traceability where the product order information is stored digitally, enabling Novy to quickly address any potential customer complaints and efficiently resolve them. This two-layer system ensures that Novy can maintain their high-quality standards and provide exceptional customer service.

The ability to adapt quickly to changes in work instructions has given us a competitive advantage, while the fully automated distribution of work instructions has decreased complexity and reduced errors on the shop floor. Azumuta has revolutionized our work instruction management process and made our operations more agile.

Joris Cuvelier
Quality Assurance Coordinator
A person is inspecting a boxed item labeled

Quality control

For Novy, quality control is a highly important aspect of the production process. Before the introduction of Azumuta, Novy inspected their products’ quality post-production by letting operators manually fill in a quality checklist. This way of quality control entailed several disadvantages. Let’s discover how Azumuta tackles these disadvantages.

1. Manual data entry

Manual data entry is prone to human error, such as typos, misinterpretation of instructions, or accidental omission of important details. This can result in incorrect or unreliable data being recorded, leading to potential quality issues going unnoticed. Additionally, the checklists often contained missing information (name of quality controller, illegible serial numbers, etc.)

Aside from difficult data entry, Novy also struggled with the inconsistency of data. Since the checklists were filled in manually by different operators, there was a lack of consistency in how the information was recorded. This inconsistency could lead to difficulties in comparing and analyzing data across different products or production runs.

Before the introduction of Azumuta, all manual checklists were collected by a quality representative and scanned, which took about 1.5 hours every week. This process was highly time-consuming and inefficient. This leads to delays in case of problems and a delay in trend analysis.

How did Azumuta help?

By moving away from manual data entry, the risk of human errors was greatly reduced, which results in correct and reliable data. Additionally, quality control is now always complete as operators cannot finish their quality control without filling in certain mandatory checks. Going digital with Azumuta ensures standardized data entry, which results in having a consistent view on quality. The operator can even attach pictures or videos to the checklist to provide additional information if needed.

Novy’s quality department has saved 1.5 hours per week on collecting and scanning manual checklists since Azumuta automatically stores all entered data in a centralized database. This can be used for further analysis, making it fast and easy to track quality and work on potential process improvement initiatives.

2. Real-time feedback to the operator

Novy recognizes the crucial importance of quality control in its production process. Previously, before the implementation of Azumuta, the quality checklist was carried out manually and only after production had taken place. This reactive approach meant that any issues may not have been identified until after they had occurred, as the quality control department would review and analyze the checklists at a later stage before releasing product orders to the client.

To address this challenge, Novy sought to establish a system that would enable continuous quality control and feedback in real-time, while operators followed the instruction steps. The objective was to detect and resolve mistakes early on, ensuring that they were promptly addressed. Ultimately, the aim was to minimize the likelihood of defective products by capturing and rectifying errors through immediate real-time feedback.

How did Azumuta help?

Azumuta played a pivotal role in assisting Novy with the implementation of this framework for real-time quality control. When starting a product order, operators simply scan the product’s serial number, prompting Azumuta to create the corresponding product order and instantaneously retrieve all relevant information. Consequently, Novy can provide operators with precise instructions tailored to the specific product order, encompassing all the relevant parameters.

Throughout the production process, operators utilize Azumuta’s tablet application, which guides them through each step. As operators progress, they are asked to provide input on specific quality metrics of the product being produced. For instance, at a particular stage, operators might be required to insert a motor into the product. The operator scans the motor and Azumuta captures this and immediately compares it to the quality parameters stored in the product order. This continuous monitoring and feedback enable Novy to promptly identify and rectify any errors made by operators, thus reducing the likelihood of delivering batches of defective products.

3. Feedback from the operator to supervisors

Another key challenge for Novy was the fact that it was very difficult for them to capture feedback from the operator, especially while using paper work instructions. In essence, they wanted to introduce a feedback loop between the operators and the production leaders in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page and can contribute to making the shop floor more efficient. This is why they looked at Azumuta in order to have a ticketing system that enables them to flag certain issues or improvement ideas, and adequately resolve these issues in a standardized approach.

How did Azumuta help?

When an operator detects a deviation while making a product on the shop floor, they can report it by creating a ticket. All context (product order, work instruction, step, …) is automatically stored on the ticket and the operator can add text or photos to the ticket in order to capture all relevant information in the ticket.

At admin level, Novy receives all tickets in custom boards (8D, PDCA, KANBAN, etc.). On a weekly basis, the internal quality manager meets with the assembly team leader to review each created ticket and assess whether it is relevant or not. This approach allows them to take appropriate actions on shop floor issues. For example, this information can be used to identify potential improvements in their production process or resolve recurring issues. Overall, the implementation of Azumuta’s continuous improvement module has resulted in a significant improvement of the quality department’s efficiency, accuracy, and productivity.

To conclude the challenge,

The implementation of Azumuta has addressed the disadvantages of manual quality control for Novy. By eliminating manual data entry, Azumuta ensures correct and reliable data while promoting standardized and consistent record-keeping of information. Additionally, Azumuta enables real-time feedback to operators, allowing for early detection and resolution of mistakes, thereby reducing the likelihood of delivering defective products. Furthermore, the ticketing system provided by Azumuta facilitates effective communication and collaboration between operators and production leaders, leading to improved efficiency and productivity in Novy’s quality department.

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Implementation

In May 2021, we embarked on a pilot project at Panorama, starting with 10 tablets, 20 operator accounts, and 3 admins. Novy was able to get started with minimal support required, needing only around 10 hours of setup support, as estimated by Joris Cuvelier. Especially the availability of comprehensive guides allowed them to efficiently. According to Joris, one of the main reasons for the rapid and effective implementation was the user-friendly nature of Azumuta, even for individuals without an IT background. This meant that individuals closer to the production floor, such as quality engineers, could take the lead, resulting in efficient progress.

During the pilot phase, we decided together to focus on the Novy’s “Panorama” cooktop model, as this was the model where they experienced most of the customer complaints. The real-time feedback component was essential in preventing the incorrect insertion of hotplates into the devices. Thanks to the introduction of Azumuta, customer complaints related to the Panorama vanished, which served as the green light to expand its implementation across multiple production lines.

One of Novy’s major concerns before the introduction of Azumuta was how the operators would react to the digitization process. The staff had been accustomed to using paper for all operations, so it was uncertain how they would adapt. However, once the pilot began in May, everyone quickly embraced the more digital approach. The operators appreciated the improved guidance with specific steps and the enhanced feedback loop. It was an encouraging start. Unfortunately, Novy faced an unexpected setback during the summer when a theft occurred, resulting in the loss of all the tablets. As a temporary measure, they had to resort back to working with paper. However, the operators showed a strong resistance to returning to paper-based workflows. They experienced firsthand the efficiency of digital operations and no longer wanted to go through the hassle of searching for the right instructions or checklists and writing everything down manually. This confirmed Novy’s belief that they had made the right choice by going digital, particularly with Azumuta.

To conclude the challenge,

In conclusion, Novy implemented Azumuta in all (complex) environments where knowledge transfer and follow-up was crucial for the smooth running of business. The pilot project with Azumuta at Novy’s Panorama was a success, leading to significant improvements in efficiency and customer satisfaction. The user-friendly nature of Azumuta allowed individuals without an IT background to take the lead in implementation, resulting in rapid progress. The positive reception from operators, who embraced the digital approach and resisted returning to paper-based workflows, confirmed the value of Azumuta. The next step for Novy is to integrate Azumuta further with the ERP system, aiming for stronger synchronization and enhanced operational efficiency.

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Results

After more than two years, we are delighted to witness the integration of Azumuta into Novy’s shop floor. During this time, several notable enhancements have emerged as a direct outcome of this implementation, including the following key efficiencies:

60%
Reduction in customer complaints due Azumuta’s real-time quality control framework
40%
In case of complaints, addressing these are resolved 40% quicker due to digital storage of product traceability
50%
Decrease in time spent on creating and managing work instructions/checklists
20%
Elimination of need to spend time to transform quality information into digital format (collecting and scanning), leading to 20% FTE time gain
40%
Enhanced training efficiency: Novy reduced time spent on training management for new employees by 40% through the use of Azumuta’s Learning Management System

Join The Digital Shop Floor Revolution!

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