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On Friday, 15.01.2015 the Department of E-business of Faculty of Economics and Business in Maribor organised a creative and educational workshop for students of E-business programme (undergraduate study programme) and students of E-business and information management programme (postgraduate master study programme) in cooperation with company Cimos and SAP. All students willing to accept challenge in the Design Thinking method was welcome. 25 students applied to challenge.

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Design Thinking method is used with purpose to find solutions for given problems. It is based on creating innovative products and services with understanding the problem and user’s needs. First we need to compile an interdisciplinary team, which includes experts from different perspectives, for example engineers, technologists, experts in marketing, etc. Method then follow this five steps:

  1. Empathize: crucial is that the team put themselves in user’s shoes, to acquaint themselves with problem;
  2. Defining the real problem: at this stage the team on the basis of data collected with empathy in various groups gathers to identify real problem;
  3. Generate ideas: the group focus on identifying as many as possible solutions, from which they have to choose the best solution;
  4. Prototype: the most important is the visual representation of ideas and presentation ideas to other participants in the company.  We can quickly figure out if our ideas differ from the real needs;
  5. Test: the last stage, where the chosen solution is tested in the environment. It is important to define the parameters based on which we see deviations of goals and the actual results. This phase requires the cooperation of many customers and support from variety of areas and/or processes.

Before workshop even started, we got quite precise and tight schedule. Before the entrance to factory in Maribor we were greeted by Uroš Zabukovšek, Matej Štumberger and Samanta Ribič. They warmly welcomed us at the entrance, where we also got protective equipment (gowns and glasses), without which, we were not allowed to move inside the factory.

Before the tour of the factory we were also welcomed by regional director of the company Cimos mag. Goran Dimc, who us introduced with company’s business. He also explained to us, that the company has two plants in Maribor: foundry and mechanical processing. Following next a short lecture about safety at work by Tine Panjtar, who explained us how we should behave in production that there would not be and problems.

We divided into two groups. The first group first visited foundry plant and the second plant of mechanical processing, then we changed. The visit was very thorough and interesting, for which we would like to thank our guides, they didn’t just presented us the production process but they also answer to any of our questions.

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After tour was completed, we returned in the conference room, where we were divided in 4 groups. Then we got acquainted with Design Thinking methodology, we did a short exercise of Group building, and finally we learned the two problems/challenges, to which we would try to find solutions. Design Thinking workshop was led by mr. Jaka Črnivec from company SAP Slovenia, assisted by Matej Štumberger, our E-business and information management programme postgraduate student. He took part in many workshops similar to this one and he is employed in Cimos d.d.

We were assigned to the two challenges:

  • How to increase efficiency of product transport (intern logistics) between two units/workstations?
  • How to informatize workstations in manufacture?

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First group activity was to write the problem on the board and try to meaningly explain what this problem could include. Soon after that the employees (leaders of logistics and manufactory departments) have joined us so we could ask them any questions related to problem. Their answers were very helpful later, because without them we couldn’t studied circumstances and position of our problem as well. When the debate only started and our brains already searched for possible solutions we took a lunch break in TAM restaurant. After lunch groups divided in separate classrooms. First we helped ourselves with post-it notes on which we wrote down each problem in relation to our challenge. Then we logically categorised those problems, which was followed up by searching any possible solutions for them. In this step we really had to use our imagination, to find as much out of the box suggestions as possible. Our next task was to imagine a person – from name, last name, weight, education, hobbies, cars etc., who is currently employed in Cimos. Then we started with the last and most important step – designing solution prototype.

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While working, mag. Goran Dimic paid us a visit, to whom we presented theoretical solution of the problem and he encouraged us to continue with our work. At the end of the workshop we gathered again in the conference room, where we had final presentation in front of leading employees of Cimos facilities in Maribor. After each presentation the employees -leaders of the departments- gave short comment about each prototype solution.

Betka:  

In my group I confronted with the problem »How to increase efficiency of product transport (intern logistics) between two units/workstations? « In the beginning we explored all possible problems. These problems we ranked into 4 groups otherwise:

  • problems related to costs and means of transport (here we highlighted problem of renting means of transport and costs which are result of it, and problem of loading materials every day and ability of truck which can be loaded in maximum 25 tons of materials),
  • problems with distance (after the consultation with employees, we learned that the way on the road /wp-content/uploads/2016/02/1_895922.jpgis once longer than in air distance, we also didn’t liked external factors such as road traffic, weather conditions, etc.)
  • problems about packing (packing materials, loading and then unloading materials, and storing)
  • problems about communication (we highlighted the problem of replenishing material and monitoring emptying boxes of materials).

After we analysed all the problems we thought of all possible solutions, no matter if they were quite feasible or not. Our goal was think as out of the box as we could, because in some ridiculous idea we found something useful. In the penultimate step we created a human profile of possible employee in Cimos. Our group imagined man named Marko, 26 years old programmer who graduated in Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Maribor, after which he worked as an internship in Google but now he wish to work in Cimos.
For the last step we took new sheet of paper and began creating a prototype. We decided we would solve this challenge with a tracking bout railway which would link both warehouses. On part of the way, where the railway would cross the road, we would make an underground tunnel. Wagons would be electric, which would cause higher cost of electricity but others costs would lower – we would reduce huge fork-lifts (we would keep just one for urgent times), we also wouldn’t rented truck anymore. Each box would have a bar code and on railway we would install sensors so we could follow all boxes accurately, from loading to emptying. At the start production line would installed sensors, which would weight boxes so we could control production process, and also so that replenishing could be »just in time«, because our Marko would make a computer program which would reported when in the box would be just 25% of material left. This computer program or system could also allowed error checking – we would determine normal time of production process, and if there would come to delays, the system would report an error.
If our solution was the best regarding the problem, we would never know. Employees were pleased with our work, but for us it was enough knowing, that we gave our best.

After long, hardworking and at the same time very educational and interesting day, we finished this trip with a group photo and then we went home.

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Betka, Špela, Sandra in Rebeka

Students of 3rd year E-bussines

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