Discover how Nitto boosts audit efficiency through real-time data collection
Read the case study to learn how Nitto found a partner in Azumuta to perform audits 100% paperless, reduce data entry time by 60% and onboard inexperienced operators more easily.
Nitto Belgium manufactures sealing materials, reinforcing and damping materials and various kinds of industrial adhesive tapes
Nitto is a Japanse company 🇯🇵, Nitto Belgium 🇧🇪 is the biggest production site in the EMEA region.
6,000 in Belgium & 28,000+ worldwide
Nitto Belgium, located in Genk, is the largest production site of the Nitto Group in the EMEA region. Today, Nitto Belgium produces sealing materials and various industrial adhesive tapes such as double-sided adhesive tapes, films for surface protection and tapes for electrical insulation. These products have applications in various industries and are used worldwide in various sectors such as the automotive industry, electronics, aerospace, and metal processing.
As part of the sustainability pillar within Nitto, the quality of the goods produced is extremely important. In addition, many of the previously mentioned sectors have in common that they impose strict quality requirements on their suppliers. Jurgen Kuppens, production coordinator, is part of the production team and is focused, among other things, on guaranteeing quality. The continuous production process within Nitto requires very frequent monitoring of (external) factors such as temperature, speed and pressure of the machines in use. These factors can have a major influence on the quality of the sealing materials produced. Consequently, production reports – which detail the settings of the machines on the production floor – are completed every two hours so that any anomalies can be spotted quickly, and actions can be taken. The correct documentation of this information is extremely important both for internal use (monitoring the production process) and for meeting the requirements of external ISO audits.
Previous method and challenges
Before the implementation of Azumuta, the filling in and updating of the machine settings was done with Excel files that could be filled in and consulted by the operator on a central computer on the line.
In practice, the operator first walked to the different machine screens (HMIs) on the production line to read off the settings – specific to each machine. Next, the operator would write down these values on paper in order not to forget the many detailed values when moving from the HMIs to the central PC. Once at the PC, these values were typed into Excel. The operator would repeat these steps until all settings of all relevant displays were entered into the Excel file on the central PC and the production report was complete. In large factories such as Nitto, where dozens of machines are spread over different floors and workstations, the above method of working was particularly time-consuming. Considering the frequency of execution (every two hours), this process took a large part of the operators’ daily activities.
Besides the time-consuming way of filling in the production reports by the operators, the supervisors (including Jurgen) also spent a lot of time drawing up, planning and following up these recurring reports. Preparing and updating the Excel files with the corresponding implemented macros, as well as making the latest versions of the production reports available for the coming period were very time-consuming. Given the complexity of the many machines and the difficulty of finding the required settings among the other data on the HMIs, in practice, the production reports were mostly filled in by experienced operators. The need to have enough experienced operators present put a lot of pressure on the planning and created moments of stress when they were not sufficiently present due to certain circumstances.
Furthermore, following up a planned audit was also very time-consuming. To verify whether the audit had been carried out, supervisors had to either go to the central PC and look at the Excel, or find the operator who had carried out the audit and obtain the necessary information. In addition, it had to be checked regularly that the reports were complete. Completion of the production reports relied entirely on the discipline of the operators. A changed planning, or a reminder if the necessary data were missing, could not be pushed to the operator automatically.
The cumbersome nature of the above process for both operator and team leader, where data integrity was difficult to ensure, caused many recurring challenges. In addition to the excessive inefficiency in filling in the production reports, there were other challenges that recurred on a regular basis:
- The frequent entry of incorrect values and ultimately making decisions based on incorrect or missing data.
- The time-consuming process of filling in the settings in the production reports by the operators.
- Scheduling and following up the audits were challenging as one depends on both the experience of the operator and the motivation of the operator to fill in the Excel for the right reasons (the checklist could not be pushed to one responsible person). It was also not possible to follow up the implementation of the audits at a glance. Since the different production reports were located on different central PCs, it was challenging to have a global overview of the different statuses across the different production reports. This made it difficult to intervene quickly when necessary.
- Heavy overhead for the team leaders to manually update the central Excel files with corresponding tolerances and to ensure that the latest version could be consulted by everyone.
- Data generated by recurrently reading the displays could only be used as looking-back data as the complete Excel file was only analysed a few times a month for control purposes. Thus, there was little possibility to quickly adapt to possible problems or to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Digital transition and criteria
The lack of a conclusive and efficient method to control correct data proved to be the decisive factor for change. During the visit of an auditor within the framework of ISO, the data integrity of the previously described method was questioned. How could one ensure that an operator would carry out the audit at the right time and enter the correct values? This pressing question was the decisive factor for Nitto to look for a partner that could help them in their digital transition, where the entry of values is smoother and data integrity can be guaranteed. Focusing on a few key criteria, Nitto started looking:
Consistent and correct data: Ensuring complete, up-to-date, and correct data was the main priority. This way the most efficient and effective decisions be taken. Since the values must be read and entered manually, it was also necessary to look for a system that could eliminate typing errors as much as possible (for example, by working with tolerance limits).
Inclusiveness of all operators: To reduce the pressure on the planning, Nitto was looking for a system that would allow inexperienced operators to participate without compromising data integrity, security, or quality. This way, experienced operators can be used as efficiently as possible, and it is not necessary to have experienced operators on site at all times (e.g. during weekends).
- Mobile: It was very important to eliminate the loss of time walking back and forth between the machines (HMIs) and the central PC. Mobile solutions (e.g., tablet) had to be able to enter data on the spot at the machines and automatically collect it in a report.
- Visual: Nitto found visual support for process reports extremely important. For both experienced and new operators, visual support can facilitate correct operations. Visual process reports can give operators the necessary instructions to quickly read the necessary settings among the other machine data.
Armed with the criteria described above, Nitto looked for a partner to make this essential leap to digitalisation. After several interviews and a demo, Azumuta was chosen from several candidates based on the potential that Jurgen and his team saw. Soon the ‘Sealing Materials’ line within Nitto Belgium was put forward to roll out Azumuta. This line was chosen because of the frequency of production reports required, as well as the amount of machine displays. The need for Azumuta was therefore greatest at this location in the factory.
Through smooth cooperation, Jurgen and his operators relied fully on Azumuta after only three months to monitor the machine displays and ensure a qualitative production process. The biggest benefits Nitto has experienced since using Azumuta are the following:
The functionalities in Azumuta enable Nitto to avoid the entry of wrong answers and to guarantee complete, up-to-date, and correct data.
- Reduction of incorrect data entry: In the past, many incorrect entries resulted from the fact that operators had to move between central PC and machine each time. With the help of the mobile Azumuta application, the operators can now enter the display data directly on the machine into the tablet. This eliminates a large part of the possible incorrect values.
- Tolerance limits: The use of tolerance limits ensures that the values entered must be in line with what is plausible. This prevents typing errors or quickly detects values with potentially large consequences.
- Triggers: If the operator enters a value outside the tolerance limits, Azumuta can link a rule to it. This can range from pushing extra instructions or checklists to automatically creating a ticket which is then sent to the responsible team leaders. In this way as much information as possible can be collected about the questionable value and the correct action can be taken.
Saving time for both operators and team leaders
With Azumuta, operators and team leaders can work much more efficiently. This advantage is based on the following functionalities:
- More efficient data entry: With the mobile Azumuta application, operators can now enter machine data directly on the tablet based on work instructions that are pushed onto the tablet. This eliminates the need to go back and forth between the central PC and the machines on the line, saving a great deal of time for the operator.
- Dynamic tolerance limits: The tolerance limits discussed earlier can change regularly within Nitto, for example due to seasonal changes. Previously one had to dive into Excel on the central PC and manually adjust the limits. Via Azumuta it is possible to adjust these limits very quickly in the instruction step itself and to roll them out over the whole line. Changed tolerances can also be highlighted to the operators by giving them points of interest in the instruction step.
- Flexible planning: in the past, the team leaders had to constantly prepare and maintain a cumbersome Excel file to keep track of the machine data. Through the planning tool in Azumuta each audit can now be pushed directly from Azumuta to a specific operator. This gives the team leaders a good idea of what needs to be done and who is responsible. It is also easier to plan the audit since inexperienced operators can also be used because of the visually strong instructions.
Strong visual instructions
By introducing Azumuta, Nitto has strong visual work instructions that significantly speed up the onboarding of inexperienced operators.
- Visual: By using the wide range of visual support, operators (both experienced and inexperienced) always have a clear image of which settings need to be read where and what they need to pay attention to.
- Inclusiveness of all operators: Because of Azumuta’s strong visual work instructions and low threshold, inexperienced operators can be used almost immediately in registering the data on the machine screens. This also ensures that there is less pressure on the planning because an experienced operator does not always have to be present to read out the machine screens.
“Azumuta is voor ons het centrale platform geworden voor de productierapporten in te vullen. Bovendien is het nu mogelijk om bij iedere stap duidelijke foto’s / instructies mee te geven, deze visuals geven zeer visueel mee waar de operatoren de instellingen dienen af te lezen. Dit stelt ons in staat om onze rapporten ook te laten invullen door minder ervaren operatoren.”
Quick follow-up via our dashboarding tool
In addition to the high-level follow-up in the planning tool, the results of the audit can be viewed in detail via the dashboarding tool.
- Follow-up of results: Due to the lack of a dynamic platform, it was difficult for Nitto to adequately follow up the results entered in the short term. Via the dashboards in Azumuta it is possible to follow up the results of the audits at a glance and to nip potential problems in the bud as quickly as possible. By quickly having a good picture of the data, one can go from reactive to proactive follow-up via our platform.
- Follow-up status: In the past Nitto had to dive into an Excel file on the central PC or ask the operator in person to know the status of an audit. With Azumuta one can see at a glance in the planning tool which audit is in progress, which are finished, and which went wrong. If necessary, the team leaders can also follow the entered values in real time via their own account.
With Azumuta’s digital shop floor platform Jurgen and his team succeeded in digitising the production reports and getting real-time insights in the latest machine settings. Nitto has found that the time taken to enter machine data has decreased by 60% because operators can enter the value directly via tablets. Jurgen also noted that the operators quickly embraced the new way of working.
In addition, the team leaders also found that updating the new production reports is up to 35% faster than before Azumuta came into use.
Azumuta received positively not only within Nitto. Also the external ISO-auditors who appreciate the data integrity are enthusiastic about the new way of working. By automatically saving the time of each entry in the report, one can easily check that all production reports were filled in at the right time and in the right way. An additional finding was that by no longer having to write the values on paper and later enter the various values in the central PC, there was a 1% reduction in typing errors within the reports.
- Reduction of data entry time by 60% through the direct and mobile data entry of the operators within the production reports
- 35% reduction in documentation time through the digital creation of production reports by team leaders
- 100% employability of operators because less experienced operators can fill in the production reports independently using visual support
- 100% less use of paper or office tools through mobile data entry and real-time data dashboards
- 1% fewer typing errors within the reports through the direct input of values on the tablet