Factory floors across GE were embarking on an ambitious goal: Make all their factories brilliant. Everything from Digital twins, wearable technology, information in the cloud, and the ability to have digital tools in combination with different methodologies was a huge challenge. Our team embarked in helping on some of those digital tools for GE. One concept idea was an Apple Watch to track machines that are down across the factory floor, and beyond. We were tasked to visualize and do user research on how this tool could help, not only save time, but really prove out what a Brilliant Factory could be using todays technology.
The first concept that was created by our engineering team proved out a direction and got stakeholder approval. The idea was to have a fast way for a Line Leader or operations manager on the shop floor get notified quickly on machines that were down. This would allow the manager to take action, via his/her watch or take a more decisive approach to get their machine(s) back up and running. This was received very positively with the business unit and we were given the green light to get more research on it. It clearly needs some UX/UI love. ;-)
I started to create some initial mockups on what the engineering team created while our Interaction designer started on some wires for future features. I even added some ideas on what it could look like if a user interacted in a chat format while addressing a machine down. I also added a tracking UI feature using the watches' GPS ability to navigate around the factory floor to their machine.
The Interaction Designer created wire-frames based on research we did for who the persona was. We were building for an Operations Leader. This persona needed quick information and some way to take action right from their watch in order to quickly asses the work needed for each machine. They also wanted a way to see not only which machines were down, but which ones are running and idling.
Once we got buy-in on the wireframes and understood the user a bit more, I designed the final look and feel of the app on the watch. Using high contrast colors and guidelines from Apple and what environment this would be used, I came up with a simple yet clear design that was easy to navigate and consume.
This was GE's first ever app built on a watch for a factory. It was received with accolades from all over the company. Other designers on different teams wanted to also develop their own version for their teams using the designs I created. Although the business unit did not fully get to develop the concept to full fruition on factory floors, we had tremendous impact at GE. Apple later reached out to partner with GE on our brilliant factory Initiative.