Effective Digital Workflows and Automation Don't Exist Without People

Episode: 0  |  Featuring: Christopher Krnezic  |  June 7, 2022 - Best Practices

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Digitization Mavericks is a podcast taking a closer look at the paperless transformation in manufacturing, construction, and beyond. Our host, Chris Krnezich interviews industry leaders to discuss the challenges that persist across the frontline, and how organizations are using new technology to improve efficiency for common workflows like abnormality reporting, BBSOs, 5S, inspection scheduling, and more.

In this episode, we feature a special interview between one of our podcast producers and the host of the Digitization Mavericks podcast. Now the current Sales Director at Weever, Chris shares details about his roots in manufacturing and his interests in technology beginning at a young age. He explains his views on digitization and reviews common SOPs that can be solved with digital workflows or automation, in order to greatly reduce challenges while increasing efficiency. For Chris, it's obvious that people will always play a pivotal role in the success of digital forms and other tools that are replacing paper in manufacturing. Have a listen and get to know the host of Digitization Mavericks as we kick off the show.

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Luke West (00:01):
Welcome to the digitization Mavericks podcast. Here we take a closer look at digital transformation and automation and manufacturing with the stakeholders who are working hard to make it happen. Our host Christopher Krnezic interviews, industry leaders, to discuss the challenges that persist across the front line and how organizations are using new technology to improve efficiency for common workflows, like abnormality reporting, BBSOs 5s, inspection scheduling, and more, the status quo is no longer acceptable in manufacturing. So this is a podcast for the digitization Mavericks, the employees who care deeply about their company and wanna elevate the quality of their work environment. So let's wind it back for a second. So listeners out there can get to know you a little bit better as the host of the show. What brought you to manufacturing in the first place and how have you found your way into this current role at Weever?

Christopher Krnezic (00:52):
Yeah. Thanks Luke. I'm really excited to kick off this podcast. I've been involved in manufacturing, basically my whole life. I was born in Hamilton, which is known as the steel city, the ambitious city, the electric city, depending who you talk to. So it's kind of been ingrained in my DNA from the very beginning. My grandparents, I immigrated to north America in the sixties and evidently they got their first jobs in manufacturing. So really I have a lot to owe to that,ufor myself. How did I end up at Weever? That's a bit of a different story, which I think we'll get into it a bit later in this episode.

Luke West (01:29):
Can't wait to hear, how have you seen the manufacturing industry change as a result of digitization, especially over the course of your career?

Christopher Krnezic (01:37):
Yeah, there's a lot to it. I mean, my career is relatively short, but even in that amount of time some plants were really willing to adopt automation and some were a bit more hesitant to, to do that change. They were always like, this is how we've always done it. And just wanted to keep it that way. In those seven years, that's no longer really an option. Everybody's realized that that's the case and COVID really accelerated that even more by forcing that adoption onto everyone.

Luke West (02:08):
And so I guess that leads me to the question of why are you passionate about automation and digitization?

Christopher Krnezic (02:15):
Yeah, I've been passionate about techno technology is a greater sense. Since a very young age, back when I was in elementary school in 2005, I wanted director's award for computers and education, which I guess was something that they had to give to me cuz they didn't really have a a reward for technology or for tech in that way. So it's good to see that the education space has changed a lot to, to lead more into that. But for me individually, like the deeper meaning to that is like, I think like the whole point of our life and like kind of the purpose of life is to advance as a species. And technology is a huge piece piece of that. We have to do that in a way that's enjoyable for everyone. So making sure nobody gets left behind and I think that's where there still is work to be done on that aspect.

Luke West (03:03):
Awesome. You talked a little bit about people getting left behind technology, advancing us as a species. There have been concerns about how technology may reduce jobs in the long run. So what's your take on all that as someone who understands the role technology is playing in our workplaces.

Christopher Krnezic (03:19):
Yeah, it really comes back to like the four or five DS of where to use automation. If I can remember it off the top of my head, something like jobs that are dirty, dangerous, dull, or difficult those are really the areas that you want to have automation in place to keep people safer to make their livelihoods better. And really what automation and technology does is replace those jobs with better jobs. So people are more empowered to, to really help. And it benefits society as a whole. Yes, there might be some people that get left behind in the short term, but that's something that we're working on fixing going forward.

Luke West (03:57):
So right now automation sounds like a great space to be in. Why did you leave for digitization?

Christopher Krnezic (04:04):
Yeah, I guess for a bit selfish terms, I was looking for a new challenge and this was a good one for me. But really working in automation for as long as I did with really, really high tech equipment it's it was really interesting to see how automation can really only get you so far. For example, I was at a place where they had a multimillion dollar role forming line and they were really reliant on a single operator. And I, I asked one of the process engineers. I was like, what happens when this guy leaves? And he's like, we're screwed. He's like we really rely on this guy to run the line. He's the only one that really knows how to do it when he retires, it's gonna take us a while to train somebody else. So it's really interesting to see how like the human element comes into play to really successfully launch those projects and keep those going. And that whole piece of equipment can come crumbling down with just a single single staff operator.

Luke West (04:59):
When you talk about digitization and how you've worked with it, are you are, are certain industries more prone to these issues than others?

Christopher Krnezic (05:11):
Yeah. What, what I'd say is the complexity of what you're trying to do really leads to, to these changes and how difficult it's going to become. Typically the simpler it is the better it's gonna be, but all industries right now are really feeling the effect of these labor shortages and turnover. So there's really no escaping this.

Luke West (05:30):
So how have you seen manufacturers or how can manufacturers who are struggling to find and retain workers remain competitive?

Christopher Krnezic (05:38):
Yeah, there's, there's really a lot to this and whether you're in manufacturing or not, you feel the effects of this when you go to the grocery store and you see empty shelves and everybody's talking about supply chain issues, staff shortages, I'm sure you go around, you see everybody's hiring everywhere these days. It seems like nobody wants to work. So really it comes down to a few things. One of is empowering workers, making sure that their voices feel heard. Second one is making sure that their jobs are easier to do giving them the tools that enable them as opposed to just kind of hiring someone, Hey, we need to fill boots on the ground to do this. And really how you do that is you put yourself on their shoes. One of the best run plants I've ever been to instead of doing a, like a daily gemba walk, what they would actually do is take that to the next step. And they'd have a manager work in the place of an operator for a single shift. So like a whole shift, three, four hours, whatever that ends up becoming and actually do that job so that you can see where those efficiencies are to make that process better. So really the efficiency is what's really gonna get us there. If you can't fill those shoes, we have to become more efficient to work with what we have.

Luke West (06:44):
Yeah. Talking a little bit about the advancement of, of technology and what we're trying to do with it. Or as you mentioned earlier, so what efficiencies are making a big difference for Weever customers at the moment?

Christopher Krnezic (06:57):
Yeah, that that's a tough question to answer, but the biggest one that I'd say is the removal of admin work with everybody being short, people that do those administrative tasks are being phased out or reallocated into other areas that need that the business needs to survive. So those get dumped onto other people. So that that's the biggest challenge. People are getting bogged down doing this administrative work instead of what they're paid to do. So for example, a quality managers taking all the quality forms, putting them back into a database to be able to trend that data over time, whereas that step can be entirely skipped to, to make that more efficient. And actually that quality manager that can now focus on making sure that the plant is having higher quality products, which leads to less waste and more output. So as an example, large beverage manufacturer that you're working with still fills out all of their employee training on paper, scans it for their records, has to update a spreadsheet and then manual manually look up who needs a re-certification or who has it completed. And that's not unique to them. Even smaller manufacturers have issues finding out who's been trained on what machines, when somebody leaves, how are we gonna fill our scheduling to make sure that works? And those are all easily solvable problems.

Luke West (08:13):
Are there any common SOPs in manufacturing that the majority of organizations need to digitize as a result of regulations or compliance?

Christopher Krnezic (08:22):
Yeah, I think every company operates a bit differently, but there's always common themes when it comes to continuous improvement that are exist across all industries. My view on this is that you have to have something that can engage everyone for real true adoption. Yes, you'll have your champions who will lead those types of initiatives, but to really have it properly adopted, everybody needs to buy in. So in regards to quality, which we spoke about before, like nonconformance reports instead of having just a supervisor, being able to fill out, giving all staff kind of the ability to do that in safety tr really initiating a true safety culture by initiating like a true behavior based safety observation program really empowers everybody and makes 'em feel like this is something that they are gonna actually wanna do as opposed to they're forced to do it. If you put some KPI target on them maintenance is the same way production. There's a lot of different areas we can help in. But those are just a, a flavor of some of the areas that we can help with there.

Luke West (09:21):
So what excites you about working with Mavericks in manufacturing?

Christopher Krnezic (09:26):
I think the chance to really get the message out there and have people excited for the change that's coming, as opposed to resenting it, all human nature is to naturally reject change or like feel, I guess, like scared to adopt it. But when it really helps them and they can see the value that comes with this, that's what we really wanna show in this, in this, so that people are less hesitant to kind of adopt that change going forward.

Luke West (09:52):
Do you think digitalization is still a choice for companies manufacturing today? Like can you get away without implementing solutions that help optimize workflow and productivity?

Christopher Krnezic (10:03):
Yes and no. I mean, there is always a choice. Like you have a choice if you want to use a rotary phone or today's smartphone. I, there's a reason that naturally you don't see those anymore except in a museum or in like a novelty antique store. So there's a saying that the efficient will really inherit the earth and into today's competitive manufacturing landscape. That couldn't be true. Or so I think that really, there's probably not much of a, a, that's not really much of a question anymore, I think is naturally gonna happen. Yeah.

Luke West (10:34):
And lastly, where should people find you?

Christopher Krnezic (10:37):
Yeah, there's a couple different ways. Easiest way to connect on a broader scale is on LinkedIn. You can find me just by type N last name - K R N E Z I C. I'm also big on one on one. So,uI'll post my cell phone,unumber in here. So if you ever will have any questions or wanna connect or talk about any of these topics, I'd be happy to chat with you. Uother than that email, Chris @ Weever Apps.Com,ukind of three different ways to reach out to me that are gonna be checked very frequently.

Luke West (11:09):
Perfect. Thanks Chris.

Christopher Krnezic (11:11):
Thanks Luke.

Luke West (11:14):
The Digitization Maverick podcast is powered by Weever, a platform that automates every critical process. So you and your employees can focus on delivering value, use digital data, capture, workflow management, and realtime reporting tools to dramatically improve operational efficiency and employee engagement, visit to see why so many of the world's manufacturing leaders like Kellogg's and Unilever use Weever to optimize standard operating procedures.

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