Arne Bohlen, managing partner, and Birk Wagner, technical manager, from B-Plast 2000® Kunststoffverarbeitungs-GmbH take part in the interview. The interview was conducted by Akram Alraai, Managing Director of Elara Digital GmbH. In the following, the names are replaced by the company names.

What fascinated you most about our product? What convinced you of our product?

By involving the employees and giving them responsibility, I was able to use Elara’s log function to identify leaks as the biggest problem at our plant. The leaks caused high costs because there were unplanned machine downtimes. Thanks to Elara we have discovered the recurring leakage problems and have now got them under control. This also reduces downtimes.

How would you describe Elara in a few sentences?

There is no more organizational fault. All managers and all other employees up to the machine operator have a full overview. Transparent and innovative. Everything you do in Elara makes sense. Whatever I do in Elara makes sense. The user interface is visually appealing and easy to use. Employees are involved in tasks – in planning, implementation and controlling. You can also see what your employees are currently working on, so everyone feels taken care of. It’s very innovative because it helps us identify problems that we didn’t notice before using Elara.

How exactly does Elara help you identify the problems?

Every object, whether machine, means of transport and conveyance, forklift truck or other equipment, has its own digital logbook. So you can understand the history. Thanks to Elara, we found that a certain part of one of our machines had to be readjusted more often, or to be more precise, replaced. Based on the documentation that is now available, coupled with knowledge management, we discovered that the system seat was not dimensionally accurate. This allowed us to completely eliminate the problem. In the past, we didn’t notice such small things because we simply replaced the defective part without writing it down or analyzing it.

How has using Elara affected teamwork in your company?

People enjoy working with Elara. We can share information and problem descriptions with each other much better and trace them back at any time. Because all information about work orders and projects is stored in Elara, we were able to reduce the duration of our daily team meetings from one hour to ten minutes. If someone is absent due to illness, the others can see this and take on the tasks independently in Elara.

What results have you noticed from using our product?

The most important result is that I can access the complete documentation with my mobile phone. We can identify problems much faster, before they get out of control and incur costs. It’s easier to keep everything on screen because the information is always available on your mobile phone. Because we now have a complete overview of all events in production, many pain points are only now becoming visible. We hear everything and know where the shoe pins. Important things, which used to be time-consumingly scheduled, reappear automatically and you can clear your head. This is also reflected in our company health management. The focus here is on relieving the burden on employees.

Which functions were important to you when you looked around for a software solution?

Attaching documents such as photos or PDFs. Explanations with pictures or drawings are many times easier to understand than just text. Ease of use for all users is also an important criterion. All employees now have mobile devices such as cell phones or tablets so that they can operate Elara. That works wonderfully. Elara lives when many people use it.

Why did you choose Elara?

Because Elara is browser-based and can therefore be used anywhere. Elara is not tied to any app, so nothing needs to be reinstalled when you change devices. We save on the integration of IT and are device-independent. People don’t like to use other programs because they are more confusing.

How do you use Elara in your daily work and how do your employees do it? Can you please describe a typical day?

When we get to work on Monday, the first thing we do is check email and Elara. We’re checking what happened over the weekend. Who did what, what open tasks are there? We hang up touch monitors in the hall. These map the topics of the respective assigned areas. In this way, the respective colleagues can see which tasks have to be processed. 95% of the work in our company is done through Elara. We used to use OneNote or other programs – now we have completely replaced it.

If you were to recommend Elara to someone, which aspects would you highlight?

Mobile access to all documents. Especially that it is so easy to use and visually appealing. You can really do a lot with it: record ideas, assign task packages, handle projects. And the best thing is, nothing is forgotten.

In which areas do you still use Elara?

We also use Elara for various project work. Investments such as infrastructure in the form of production and storage halls through to machine planning. Elara is also used in scheduling, ordering and export. Every area has an intersection. The Elara was linked to the existing ERP system so that the warehouse now has all incoming and outgoing goods with checklists as milestones on the corresponding monitors as a control room. The technology has stored all tests as series appointments and the filing, ie documentation, has been fully digitized.

Can you describe how you worked before Elara (you and your teams) and how you work with Elara now?

Before Elara we worked with a lot of Excel spreadsheets and paper. Many digital tools were also used – Outlook email and calendar, OneNote, PDF, Microsoft Teams. Since we switched to Elara, the analogue “paper work” has become much less. We complete our tasks much faster, more effectively and have greatly optimized communication, including knowledge transfer. Employees get the status of the tasks of other colleagues live. This often results in the next tasks and creates a smooth process. Furthermore, we mainly worked with paper and appointment folders. Our technical manager has changed offices and should have taken more than 40 folders with him before the introduction before Elara. Now only the folder of the invoices.All important documents such as operating instructions, circuit diagrams or other documents are now stored directly with the objects at Elara. We also notice that thanks to the transparency, the employees make even more effort to deal with things better, to carry out maintenance sensibly and to complete tasks more consciously.