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Mobile app ?fits bill for ?New Era's? machines; Technology speeds?help in breakdowns

New Era is flipping its hat backward and embracing new mobile application technology to improve production efficiency.

Applied Sciences Group was contracted to develop a state-of-the-art application that utilizes the Android smartphone platform to quickly identify when machines in the factory are down and electronically summon a maintenance person to high-priority repairs. The application has been installed on 200 Samsung Galaxy tablets at the plant, making all 400 workstations active at New Era's Derby plant.

Before the new system was installed, the operator and machine sat idle when a machine broke down until maintenance was called.

Kim Grant, business development manager for ASG, said that New Era has fully implemented the new system and has had positive early feedback.

"It's all been very positive, and the app has worked as expected," Grant said. "Obviously the workers have a real sense of pride about producing New Era caps. There's even an element of productivity tied to their pay. So it's been a win-win between union and management."

Joe Zwirecki, a representative of New Era, said the app is one of several projects that have allowed the plant to increase capacity 30 percent over the past two years.

Thuan Tran, the principal project engineer, has been told by New Era management that the improvement has been noticeable.

The implementation took nine months, and the application allows New Era to accurately collect and disseminate downtime alerts to improve worker reaction time.

[JUMP] Praxair Inc., also uses an application with a GPS function made by ASG, which also services larger companies like GM and Moog.

"We are actively pursuing a significant number of smartphone applications, because the trend toward mobility is growing," said Paul Buckley, president of ASG.

New Era make caps for Major League Baseball, the NFL and the NCAA and has close ties to popular music culture.