We discuss his ‘accidental’ development of a bespoke time management system for RDD.
When Marian joined our assembly team in March 2017, we had no idea of the value he would add to the business. In the past five years he has created a new role for himself, constantly pushing to learn new skills and then apply them to real time issues within the business.
Hi Marian. You’ve followed a slightly unusual career path since joining us?
Yes, I started assembling parts then learned to use the laser cutter and other machines in the fabrication and workshop departments. I have been interested in IT systems for some time, just teaching myself. I overheard someone having issues with creating a user account online and it seemed very expensive and time consuming. I thought “I could do that in two seconds, and for free!”.
Step by step I began asking to work on IT projects, earning trust as I slowly took over support in this area. I spent another six months on the laser before I really had the opportunity to prove what I was capable of.
What kind of IT projects were you developing?
I began by developing a stock management system, and it has now snowballed from there. Much of my work has been the automation of boring spreadsheet jobs – for example, linking the huge documents used for quoting jobs and harvesting data to put into visual dashboards. It’s reduced the time to set up each one massively, maybe 1000%... Importantly our systems are bespoke and instantly customisable making them a cost effective and more responsive solution compared to off the shelf software packages.
Tell us about Kronos, your latest creation for RDD.
Actually… the whole Kronos project was started by mistake! I was developing a platform to take over from the stock management system we had already developed a few years before. As I started building it, I heard people complaining about our existing time tracking software not working well. At the same time our Operations Manager Darren asked if I could create a clocking in/out system for the factory.
I started building the first version of some clocking in units – they weren’t ideal but worked. I then realised it could be a time management system to allocate hours spent to individual jobs as well. And so Kronos was born; a bespoke system to help us manage and understand how time is used on any job in the company, to improve performance.
So, is it finished?
No, this is an ongoing project to rid us of the remaining spreadsheets. We’re relating time to stock to purchase logs to planning... The system will soon send emails to teams so they know when to expect materials or parts - that advance knowledge of stock coming in will allow them to manage warehouse space better and make its flow through the factory more efficient. Delivery notes are scanned into the system by mobile phone and our dispatch notes are generated automatically by Kronos. I’m currently adding digital signatures for our delivery drivers accepting goods to provide clients with full traceability.
I’m very proud of it, discovering new things makes me even happier.
It sounds like it. What do you enjoy most about your work then?
To be honest, I don’t enjoy doing assembly jobs, they aren’t challenging. I do like having more responsibilities – the work I do impacts everyone in the business. Because I’ve worked in several departments, I know how it works, what the issues were. Someone bought in to develop our systems or implement off-the-shelf software wouldn’t have the insider knowledge I do, which has been invaluable. People used to estimate time on jobs; I started learning about physics and how to measure the speed of travel so now when we quote time for jobs on our AGFA printer, I know it is 99.996% accurate.
I like developing and making things. There is so much you can do using small computers like Raspberry Pi. I have many ideas that can help improve existing systems. I think next, I’ll look at access control; an entrance unit that could open the main doors as well. It’s more challenging as it needs to work with the fire alarm and other systems…. But I love a challenge.