Connected worker platform Zaptic lands industry connections via Hexagon's Sixth Sense Program

Sixth Sense helps industrialtech companies who are looking to bring their products to broader markets and scale their business.
Connected worker platform Zaptic lands industry connections via Hexagon's Sixth Sense Program

While Industrial manufacturing is at the forefront of digital transformation with IoT, additive manufacturing, AI, and automation, it's a challenging industry for industrial startups to gain traction within unless they come from the manufacturers they seek as customers.

Sixth Sense is a program offered by the Manufacturing Intelligence division of Hexagon to help innovative companies with brilliant ideas who are looking to bring their products to broader markets and scale their business with the help of Hexagon.

Hexagon identifies challenges and asks companies to submit applications to describe their products and services and how they address those challenges. 

The most innovative proposals are invited to pitch to Hexagon's panel of experts. Around ten are chosen for an intensive innovate-on-the-job scaling program, which will deliver a concrete project supported by coaching, workshops, and connections to Hexagon customers.

Three concepts are provided with the resources for true globalisation, including more funding, worldwide office space, access to Hexagon's full suite of products and services, incorporation into Hexagon's ecosystem, and exposure to Hexagon's coveted customer base.

I spoke to Sandy Reid, CCO of Zaptic, co-winner of the first prize in the most recent Sixth Sense cohort. 

Zaptic is a connected worker platform providing job instruction and collaboration for frontline teams.

It aims to empower the industrial frontline workforce to survive and thrive in the age of automation. It provides a daily operating system for frontline operations that is accessible on mobiles, tablets, and desktops and a no-code toolkit. 

According to Reid:

 "This involves solving chronic, acute challenges in the industry, such as the decades-long skills gap, which is exacerbated by the retiring workforce and the difficulty of attracting frontline workers.

Each retirement results in knowledge loss, and the increasing complexity in tech means "it's getting harder to be a factory worker." 

Onboarding is more than just training someone to do their tasks; it also includes managing their product activity, quality, and safety and obtaining quality data from their daily activities.

Reid recalled: 

"You go into factories daily to see a mess of paper, spreadsheets, and whiteboards everywhere. And that's because of big incumbents like SAP, Microsoft, Siemens, and Rockwell. Production operations have long been run off ERP, MES, and PLS.

You've got huge categories of software that manufacturers use, but they were never designed for people who actually do the work on the factory floor." 

Zaptic frees people from the manuals and data collection and allows them to focus on more value-added tasks. The company's technology is used across various verticals, including chemicals O&G, food and beverage, and industrial manufacturing. Reid provided the example of a Zaptic customer, one of the largest wineries in California. 

Before using the platform shift, team and line leaders spent an hour to two hours a day collecting data and then putting it on a spreadsheet or whiteboard for shift handover. Zpatic removes the duplicate data entry and handling. 

The company also experienced a 25 per cent reduction in training costs as it no longer relies on peer-to-peer shadowing; instead people have access to self-paced on-the-job training, which is especially helpful for its seasonal workforce.

The are also quality benefits in terms of scrap and waste reduction and cycle time improvements. 

"So typically, we're able to, a number of customers have reduced scrap and waste by 20 per cent."

Reid shared:

"Numerous customers have reduced scrap and waste by 20 per cent. In specific areas, they've experienced 30 per cent productivity uplifts. Other customers have reduced equipment downtime by 20 per cent to 25 percent as well."

Early adopters and companies deploying connected workers' software tend to have a strong continuous improvement culture. Zaptic also helps them get more ROI on their continuous improvement program.

An example is Carlsberg Brewery Group, which has a continuous improvement program that engages with the whole workforce:

"It's not just your highly skilled, expensive maintenance people who are involved in driving improvement; the total workforce is involved.

To do that, you need to enable lowly, hourly-waged operators to not only run the equipment but also maintain it and improve it themselves by learning and sharing knowledge. But that's what we do: give them more access to the information. They need the voice to share issues and improvement suggestions as well."

Using Zaptc, Carlsberg accelerated the global adoption of its Carlsberg Excellence program from three to two years, and it was deployed to 18 of their breweries in the first 12 months, 

"This gives you an idea of the speed at which we can deploy, which is unlike anything they're used to with the traditional incumbent's slow, very expensive MES projects for manufacturers."

The benefits of an industry-specific program

Zaptic joined the Hexagon program to build strategic partnerships with manufacturers. I'm always interested in how accelerator programs compare and contract, and Reid explained that Hexagon's industry focus meant that "there was no risk." 

"The Hexagon folks understood what we do almost as well as we do. Given that industry expertise, it can help us learn faster, speak to customers, and get valuable feedback and insight, which is currently focused. There's also executing our proven go-to-market strategy, selling to our existing ideal customer profile."

Zaptic also has its sights set on machine manufacturers, with Reid explaining: 

"When machine suppliers install a production line in a manufacturer, for example, they receive very little feedback. 

Often, the manufacturer reconfigures the production line, including reconfiguring the equipment and processes, to such an extent that the machine supplier is out of the loop and unable to help if a problem occurs.

So, suppose you can provide that bidirectional knowledge at every stage, from equipment design and commissioning to installation, maintenance, etc. In that case, there's huge value for both machine manufacturers and end users."

Security-first AI for faster discoverability 

The company has released an AI Knowledge Assistant. The Assistant captures 'Dark Data', retrieving lost information and solutions from shift notes, defect resolutions and more to inform situational problem-solving. Smart Log Books, used to capture tribal knowledge, make it easy for experienced operators to pass on their expertise, which would otherwise be lost without the help of a digital solution.

Zaptic's AI Knowledge Assistant enables employees to access and engage with a range of documentation and data, allowing for faster discoverability and usability of vital information by the right users at the right time and place. Important to the highly competitive manufacturing sector is that there's no cross-sharing of information between customers, and all AI is hosted internally, safeguarding proprietary data. 

Policing knowledge ensures the integrity of shared information. Zaptic identifies and highlights popular but potentially unsafe or incorrect knowledge for managerial review.

Zaptic's AI Knowledge Assistant supports more than 50 languages and responds in the same language as the user, regardless of the source data language.

 Next, Zaptic plans to facilitate multilingual knowledge-sharing between sites while maintaining context and ensuring the distinction between approved and relevant but unapproved data.

Lead image: Paul Einerhand.

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