The MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, is defined as "a product with enough features to attract early adopter customers and validate a product idea early in the product development cycle". When we founded Goodly Innovations with the vision of developing innovative solutions for the pharmaceutical industry, to improve productivity and ensure product quality, we had no idea how long our “MVP” would remain in use with the first customer, our very first early adopter.
Recently, we had the opportunity to visit this first installation of our augmented reality-enabled process/operator guidance system “OptiworX” at our customer and partner CSL Vifor, based in St Gallen in Switzerland. The company even won the 2018 Pharma MES Innovation Award with the early OptiworX implementation for being the pioneer in a technology that is now an important part of many pharmaceutical manufacturers' overall digitalisation programmes. Now we celebrated the 5th anniversary of that first installation. It is no longer the MVP, but it will always be our first real installation. Over the years, the CSL Vifor team has received regular updates of OptiworX and together we implemented new AR wearable devices.
At the beginning of the journey the Microsoft HoloLens 1 was the only device used. And with OptiworX, the team at CSL Vifor managed to reduce machine downtime of a new, complex packaging line by 33%.
Some time later, with new features of OptiworX, CSL Vifor was again our first customer to try the unique and patented multi-user mixed-device functionality, first adding Android tablets which were subsequently replaced by the hands-free RealWear HMT-1 device.
Today the operators use the device of their choice, a HoloLens2 for spatial guidance or 2D guidance through the RealWear HMT-1 or its successor models, depending on their level of training and individual preferences.
OptiworX allows a flexible number of operators to work collaboratively in the same process, even using different devices in parallel. This and other new features released during the years resulted in an additional 40% performance improvement.
Giovanni Zimotti, head of the production unit at CSL Vifor, appreciates the support he and his team receive from OptiworX: "The introduction of augmented reality technology has brought economic benefits in the area of shortening changeover and machine set up times. The improvement in staff deployment options also means a clear benefit: employees can be deployed more flexibly in different and cross-functional departments." In addition to speeding up the induction of new staff, he also highlights the positive impact on quality: “The system prevents incorrectly set values and thus increases the right-first-time rate of such manually performed tasks".
CSL Vifor's experience shows that it is not enough to choose an innovative tool in order to sustainably benefit from a new technology on the market. But a system that is continuously improved in the spirit of Lean and Operational Excellence by both, the supplier and the user, can provide the user with benefits that exceed the initial expectations.