To help us manage demand and streamline our manufacturing processes, we’ve implemented a new ERP (enterprise resource planning) system.
After evaluating a number of possible solutions, the team selected LillyWorks, a relative newcomer to the ERP world, based on its material resource planning capabilities and the ability to drive the manufacturing process on the floor through touchscreen interfaces instead of traditional paper travelers.
“We're still new to LillyWorks, but we've been using the system since the start of the year,” said Brian James, Senior Staff Analyst. “We are very excited about the progress we have already seen with reductions of out of stock inventory and material/resource planning to help prioritize orders. The future looks bright!”
The new system handles quoting and sales orders, purchasing and inventory management, manufacturing and production lead time, as well as financials, providing a fully-integrated, real-time view of the business.
Kiosk Pro, Kiosk Group’s popular series of iOS kiosk apps, passed a new milestone in early November: 250,000 licenses sold!
Since their introduction in 2010 alongside the first iPad, the Kiosk Pro series have become the bestselling kiosk apps for iOS, making it easy for tablet owners to configure their devices for use by visitors.
“We’ve enjoyed seeing how our apps can help a variety of users”, said Chris Grooms, Senior Project Manager. “Kiosk Pro has been used for everything from providing interactive museum exhibits to making check-in and other self-service systems.”
The series of apps have been in continuous development since, adding new functionality in response to customer demand. There are now four versions of the app to meet the needs of any iPad kiosk project:
“We’ve been lucky to work directly alongside the hardware team here at Kiosk Group,” said Becca Rice, Director of Software Development. “The level of integration between our kiosk hardware and software is really unmatched. When a customer comes to us with a specific request, we’re able to present a complete solution.”
One of the most-highly discussed kiosk projects of 2017, Shake Shack’s Astor Place kiosk initiative has launched using a customized version of our traditional countertop iPad kiosks.
In order to support Shake Shack’s plans for kiosk-only ordering and a cashless environment, the team at Kiosk Group designed a custom head enclosure that incorporates Square’s contactless payment systems while maintaining the streamlined look Shake Shack was looking for.
The custom design also incorporated a slim, permanently mounted base to minimize the kiosk’s space requirements, helping Shake Shack meet their goals of serving more guests at peak times by reducing lines and wait times.
“The Astor Place Shack will be a playground where we can test and learn the ever-shifting needs of our guests,” said Randy Garutti, CEO of Shake Shack in a press release. “We’re excited to lead with kiosk-only ordering, putting control of the Shake Shack experience in our guest’s hands....The Astor Place Shack represents our dedication to innovation and to providing the best for our guests and for our teams.”
To make this project a reality, Kiosk Group worked with teams at several top-tier tech companies, including Square, Fuzz Productions, Olo, and NCR Omni-Channel Solutions.
“This was a fast-moving project and everyone involved was committed to making sure it was a success,” said Mike James, founder and CEO of Kiosk Group. “It was great to see everything come together so quickly and we’re hoping to see this type of project rolled out to other locations soon.”
Kiosk Group has partnered with Redpark, a company specializing in wired data connections for iOS devices, to offer the company’s newest product addition, the ‘Gigabit + POE’ and ‘Gigabit + Power’ ethernet adapters for iOS.
In the past, one of the weaknesses of using iPads for kiosk use was the need to rely on a wireless data connection.
“iPads are the most popular tablet choice for our kiosk enclosures,” said Chris Grooms, Senior Project Manager. “The availability of wired ethernet makes these tablets an even stronger option moving forward.”
These ethernet adapters allow users to connect an iPad to the internet over a reliable, wired ethernet connection while simultaneously charging the device. They support 10/100/1000 gigabit networking and provide bandwidth up to 225 Mbps.
In response to increased demand for custom enclosures and new tablets and accessories, we’ve expanded our engineering team with a new hire.
Ron Nottingham has recently joined us in the newly-created Manager, Engineering role. His primary responsibilities are new designs, process improvements, and helping to further develop engineering standards and standard designs.
"I was thrilled when Ron agreed to join our team,” said Mike James, founder & CEO. “With his background, he brings a wide range of best practices and experience-based wisdom. He's worked on everything from Symbol Technologies scanners early in his career to, most-recently, wind tunnels at Aerolab. The width and breadth of his knowledge is hard to come by these days.”
Ron is a licensed professional engineer in two states with over 20 years of experience across multiple product categories. In his spare time, he enjoys church, grilling, and scuba diving.
As a part of our manufacturing expansion, we’ve invested in a new C.R.Onsrud large-format CNC machine, bringing us up to a total of five CNC machines for production.
The largest of our current CNC machines, the Onsrud features a 5' x 12' vacuum bed with a probe to measure all surfaces before cutting.
It uses a precise, high-speed spindle, allowing us to mill the thermoplastics used in our head enclosures more quickly at scale. The Onsrud’s direct drive, independent channel design enhances accuracy, ensuring that the narrow tolerances required for our heads are met.
“By allowing us to cut full 5’ by 10’ sheets in a single go, the new machine really speeds things up,” said Daniel Eddy, Director of Information Technologies.
With the introduction earlier this year of the new TSP100U model, Star Micronics brings the possibility of wired thermal receipt printing to iOS devices, which had previously required the use of a wireless connection like Bluetooth and WiFi. We’ve moved forward with supporting this new printer both in terms of hardware and software.
The TSP100U connects to an iPad using a standard USB-Lightning cable that supplies power to the tablet and relays jobs directly to the printer. As a bonus, the printer is also less expensive than models supporting wireless connections.
“The TSP100U is a great solution for kiosks,” said Becca Rice, Director of Software Development. “The wired connection ensures reliability and uptime, which are so important for unattended use.”
On the hardware side, we’ve redesigned the printer case that works with our standalone kiosk models to accommodate the new form factor of the TSP100U, allowing you to easily protect the printer, its power supply and physical connection to the tablet from visitors.
We’ve added a new large format Canon Océ Arizona UV flatbed printer to our print shop, allowing us to print artwork directly on a wide variety of surfaces and expand the graphics and branding options we offer for our kiosks.
The new printer features variable-dot printing that delivers near-photographic image quality, even at high print speeds. It has two high-intensity UV lamps right next to the ink-jet head, which cure the specially formulated ink immediately after it hits the media.
“I am completely blown away by the high-quality images our UV printer can produce on practically any substrate that can fit on our 4'x8' print bed. I'm constantly thinking to myself, ‘What else can we print on?’, said Melissa Reeves, Senior Graphics Technician.
The printer also provides full-bleed printing capability that eliminates the extra finishing steps of trimming prints for a clean, professional look.
In addition to colored inks, the printer is capable of printing white ink, which can be built up in multiple passes for texture effects. With this technique, it can create wood grains, raised text and even braille.
White ink also allows for printing on clear substrates, allowing us to do reverse images which can be viewed through a clear, glossy acrylic or to create lightbox-style graphics that can be backlit with the white ink providing a light-diffusing layer.
“We look forward to creating a masterpiece for all or our customers no matter how big or small a job. The sky's the limit for what we can do with this amazing machine,” said Dave Heckman, Print Shop Manager.
One of our goals for 2017 is moving more of our production in-house and to move forward with that, we’ve expanded our facilities, doubling our production space to over 11,000 square feet.
Expanding allows us to create separate areas for each step in the production process. On one end of the space, we’ve built an enclosed, dust-free zone for printing and graphics with a second floor above for additional storage.
The rest of the new space will be dedicated to manufacturing with CNC tables, drill presses and other large-scale tools, a powder coating booth, and a welding area. The entire area is being fitted with compressed air hookups for blowers, tooling, and cooling purposes, as well as vacuum systems to clear cutting debris.
Previous production areas are being converted to warehouse space for stock inventory with additional space set aside for staging, assembly, and packaging, making it easier for our shipping team to quickly and accurately fulfill orders.