Digital Signage in Industrial Applications

Digital Signage in Industrial Applications

Joy Mining Machinery Finds Digital Solutions Throughout Facilities

Active on five continents and with a network of 55 facilities spanning China, Russia, India, Poland, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, and the United States, Joy Mining Machinery, a subsidiary of Joy Global, Inc., is a worldwide leader in the manufacture of underground mining equipment. Wherever coal, iron ore, copper, gold, and other embedded materials are mined, chances are good that Joy Mining loaders, conveyors, haulers, and other products are hard at work.

With Joy Mining customers and employees spread from Tychy, Poland to Tianjin, China, implementing and maintaining a common corporate culture is a challenge. To help solve the situation, the Joy Mining Machinery marketing team proposed a network of digital video displays in facility lobbies that would convey both local and companywide information, unified under a consistent graphic look.

The Joy Mining team discovered the iCOMPEL digital signage appliance platform from Black Box. Suitable for both standalone and networked environments, iCOMPEL is an all-in-one device that supports the full range of content management, including subscription, organization, design, and publishing. Controlled by a standard web browser, iCOMPEL is flexible in a variety of deployment situations.

“Almost all of our 55 facilities eventually received a digital display in their lobbies, all controlled by iCOMPEL devices,” says Chuck Fickter, marketing information manager for Joy Mining.

Little did anyone know at that point how far the project would go. First, Joy Mining Machinery’s engineering staff came to Fickter with an idea. “We were presented with the notion of using the digital screens to provide engineering metrics — performance data and the like. We saw the potential and immediately began rolling out the information to 19 screens around the network,” says Fickter.

Next the human resource department approached. “They told us about how they are required to post job bids and awards in the company’s union facilities. Normally, that requires a whole day or more of driving from one location to the next, just to post information on bulletin boards,” Fickter recalls. “If we installed dedicated screens in employee-only areas, HR said we could instantly eliminate that step and save the company a ton of time and money.”

Possibly the most innovative idea, however, came from Operational Excellence, a company task force working to optimize manufacturing quality and efficiency. Its proposal: Use digital screens on the factory floor to display “Kanban” inventory information in real time. Kanban, a Just-in-Time manufacturing discipline, tells workers which parts are in inventory, which are in transit, and in what bins particular parts are found. It also feeds information back to offsite fabricators, ensuring that appropriate parts are being produced only as needed, and just in time for use.

“To execute the Kanban idea, we needed to pull information from our SAP Enterprise Resource Planning system. All we had to do was create a web service by pointing our iCOMPEL units to the correct IP address,” says Fickter.

Joy Mining has installed a number of Kanban displays at the Franklin manufacturing plant with impressive results. Its next move is to link the Franklin facility to other Pennsylvania plants as well as its South African operations.

“We discover new uses for digital displays almost every day,” Fickter states. “A recent employee survey, for example, indicated a desire for more awareness of what different Joy Mining facilities around the world are doing. That sparked the concept of “Joy TV” — an in-house video channel that will produce and distribute “Facility Focus” documentaries about various Joy Mining activities and people.”