Replacing inconsistent technology and paper-based processes saved Hometown Trolley two days in processing time per trolley built. It also enabled its president and CEO to focus on bigger-picture priorities, including developing a new production line.
For many years, Hometown Trolley had worked with small, local IT providers. But after years of growth, this led to an inconsistent technology experience and chronic network problems. Plus, there wasn’t a clear direction for how Hometown Trolley’s technology should evolve so it could keep pace with the organization’s growth and needs.
One of these needs was using technology to eliminate manual, paper-based processes on its shop floor. Each trolley vehicle has its own set of paperwork that follows it through manufacturing and requires different sign-offs as well as duplicate entry into the main system. Because shop floor personnel didn’t have access to this system, it placed an extra burden on the president and CEO, Kristina Pence-Dunow, to look up and provide requested information.
Hometown Trolley wanted a way to let employees access production data without having to invest in an expensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
Wipfli’s first step was to outline Hometown Trolley’s challenges and build out a three-year technology roadmap. The different phases of the roadmap focused on stabilizing and then improving the organization’s technology systems and network.
This meant redoing the physical cabling, replacing outdated network equipment, implementing wireless internet for the shop floor, replacing employee PCs and implementing a consistent setup for those PCs.
It also meant migrating production data to Microsoft Office 365, Teams and SharePoint and implementing the use of tablet devices. This new system would allow shop floor personnel to both enter and access information from the system on the tablet.
A large new monitor on the shop floor now displays the production schedule, further giving employees easy access to critical information that makes their day-to-day jobs easier and faster.
With Microsoft cloud technology, Hometown Trolley has been able to not only eliminate duplicate data entry but also give employees access to the information they need, when they need it. Plus, Teams and SharePoint offer permission controls, so employees can access only the data they need to, further improving security.
Notably, this transformation happened in only a year’s time. Although the roadmap laid out a three-year plan, Hometown Trolley was committed to investing in the technology it needed to keep pace with its growth and improve efficiency and productivity. Because of this, Wipfli was able to complete the majority of the roadmap’s three phases in just one year.
And now that production staff can pull up drawings, instructions, inspection sheets and other information they need right from their tablets, a full two days of processing has been eliminated for the registration office per trolley built.
Plus, President and CEO Kristina has gained valuable time back into her day-to-day. Because she can now delegate certain responsibilities to keep the production process moving forward, she can focus on pursuing large contracts and developing a new product line. Plus, Microsoft Teams lets her keep tabs on production, giving her peace of mind.
It’s also sparked more creative thinking in her team. Now that they have a faster and more efficient way to access information, they’ve brought new ideas for further improvements.
Hometown Trolley is a third-generation, family-owned-and-operated trolley manufacturing company headquartered in Crandon, Wisconsin.