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Factory Configuration
for the IIoT

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Innovation upon Inovation

Andon There was a point where upon a periodic, heuristic evaluation, it seemed to me that fixing the old was pointless when we could shift to an all new "new". There was so much to fix on the old design it seemed really pointless. Why fix stuff to adaquation? This led me examine the whole application for an entire UX/UI redesign. A card sorting exercise with input from stakeholders set the UX direction, whereas the "JEM-look" and other new design patterns set the foundation for the UI redesign.

As I present some of these changes on the eFlex Application reDesign & Evolution page of this portfolio, one section in particular is worth noting—the plant configuration. When I started at eFlex this was already an ingenius and innovative feature of eFlex's software—using dropdowns to build areas and groups and stations and tasks. Using prerequisite dropdowns to connect stations one-to-the-next. Then using drag-n-drop task cards to rearrange the tasks or move them to another station. Really brilliant stuff here allowing such things as rebalancing production lines to minutes or hours rather than days or weeks. Allowing such moves on the fly rather than shutting down entire lines.

When I started examining the whole application holistically and heuristically, an evident pattern that started working very well was that of dropping modals for side-panel properties and configurations. It was originally designed for Andon and the Work Instruction Editor, but was soon used to great success on the task configurations, station options, and elsewhere. However, the whole process of laying out area, group, station and task configurations still seemed a bit clunky to me. Sure it worked as is and users figured it out, however it seemed to me to be two steps forward, one back. Configure this here, then go there, do this, then...

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Since I was reexamining and redesigning the application holistically, I ask myself as a user what would work for me? It needed to be simplar. Obviously, duh. How so? More visual. If I'm configuring an entire plant we are talking areas, groups, stations and the tasks for each station. Right now it's balancing all these entities and their relationships in your head to effectively configure with dropdowns. And if relationships gets switched (e.g. the prerequisite of a station to another) this also has to be switched and maintained—in the head. Yes, needs to be visual, and laid out just like he physical plant.

Fresh off designing the Work Instruction Editor utilizing HTML canvas, I thought the configuration could operate the same way. Pull a tool from the left panel, configure on the right panel, workspace in the middle. Here, the tools would be to create Areas, Groups, Stations and Tasks. The prerequisites—simply pull a connector from one station node to another like is done in Adobe XD or Node-RED.

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That's it. Select an existing configuration or create new, that is, layout an area. Layout groups in the area.

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Drag-n-drop stations into place. Connect one station to another by dragging a connector from one station node to the next.

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That's it. Easily configurable. Easy to edit. And, when operable... with the flick of a switch turn this configuration into Live Plant tracking what parts are in every station and each buffer, as well the part count of good or rejected.

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