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Real-time Learning App for Manufacturing

Nessis Inc - Real-time Learning App for Manufacturing

students working on a tablet and computerFrom re-wiring a home entertainment system to assembling an automobile, our society is in constant need of how-to guides. At home, people can do a quick Internet search for help. But in the manufacturing sector, employees need the know-how to put together their company’s products accurately without any questions.  

So what happens if the designs of parts change, but the print instructions are not updated? What happens when a page is lost? Spending the time to figure out what to do may be unproductive for companies on tight deadlines to get finished goods to market efficiently and safely.

Enter Nessis Inc., an innovative software solutions and service company based in Durham Region that specializes in e-automation and is in the business of addressing such concerns for their clients.

“E-automation refers to the idea of creating an environment where you can learn how to make something using a real-time application,” explains Kathleen Niles, Nessis president and CEO.

With help from researchers and students from the Faculty of Science at UOIT, Nessis has worked toward creating an e-automated application for mobile device platforms. The application is based on existing software that teaches users how to make something using real-time information it gathers about the parts and method.

“Connecting with students from UOIT was integral to the success of the project,” says Nessis. “We are a company working in a manufacturing sector hoping to go into commercialized market. So making use of the university’s talent helps us explore options we don’t have time to explore.”

Headshot of Mark GreenWorking under the supervision of Dr. Mark Green, a Computer Science professor at UOIT, the students assisted Nessis with a study that explored whether existing software could be used as a working application on various mobile device platforms.

“The students were responsible for discovering how they could take a mobile application button, put it on a device such as a tablet or iPad, and strip out the functions of the software itself to leave the user just with the information they need,” says Dr. Green. “One class worked on early research and design work for initial model, then the secondary group was focused on creating the prototype and testing its usability on the iPad.”

In order for the second group to design the prototype, they sought out funding  and were awarded with a grant from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) through its Applied Research and Commercialization (ARC) Initiative. ARC aims to accelerate innovation and improve productivity for globally competitive southwestern Ontario companies with fewer than 1,000 employees. FedDev Ontario accomplishes this by providing funding to universities so faculty and students can work directly with industry businesses on innovative projects.

“The benefits of the relationship were apparent from the start,” says Dr. Green. “Kathleen has the manufacturing background, the vision and she gave us support. We contributed the technological knowledge Nessis needed to create this prototype. You can spend six months building up the expertise of a new employee, but with these students we could take the expertise that is there already and immediately build on it.”

Niles agrees that technical expertise was needed to bring the project to the next level.

“The students were able to get the design to function,” says Niles. “I don’t believe at this point it is at a market level, but we are now able to work towards that. We see technology change coming down the pipe and want to be a part of it. We want to ensure technology growth is being realized here in Durham.”

Thanks to the collaboration with the Computer Science students at UOIT that goal is now in sight for Nessis.

“The application uses visuals and real-time updates to provide accurate how-to instructions for companies in the manufacturing sector, but the technology is definitely versatile,” says Niles.

“The whole world is made up of ‘how-tos’ and we could technically e-automate all of these processes. Without the FedDev Ontario grant to engage people to perform work on the research level, I wouldn’t have gone down this road. FedDev Ontario allowed us to explore an avenue we couldn’t have done financially,” says Niles.  

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