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The ideal summer day for most people does not involve digging up and replacing faulty sprinkler equipment. That’s why Orbit Irrigation does everything it can to make sure the irrigation products you buy are going to last. 

Orbit, which was recently acquired by Husqvarna, is the world's largest manufacturer of sprinkler heads, smart timers, valves, manifolds, and other accessories for residential, agricultural, and commercial irrigation systems. These complex assemblies contain dozens to hundreds of mechanical and electrical components that are relied on to run daily for hours at a time in extreme conditions & under constant pressure, while being able to withstand several freeze and thaw cycles, and – of course – hold up in close contact with water.

A Massive Scale of Complex Parts

Orbit products are designed and assembled at their headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. Components and subassemblies are shipped in every day from around the globe, and it’s up to Robin Bushman’s team to make sure these parts are up to spec and will perform as expected.

Robin explains, “We receive tens of thousands of components per day, and we’re relied on to ensure that the parts we buy from suppliers conform to our design specifications and don’t introduce issues during assembly or for the customer. There are dozens of dimensions on each of the millions of components we receive, so it’s critical that our incoming inspectors are incredibly efficient, and that we’re able to have clear visibility into the quality results.”

irrigation systems

Until a few years ago, Orbit was tracking inspection data for all these parts on paper and an Excel sheet. Jessica Brown, quality tech, remembers, “Before 1factory, it was paper. A lot of paper. Then we moved to Excel forms, which couldn’t handle large amounts of data and were full of formulas that could randomly break down. Excel also couldn't give us any kind of analytics or dashboards, and there was no traceability into who had done what.”

Robin also notes that the maintenance of these inspection sheets was a nightmare: “There was a lot of manual work. If one little thing changed (i.e. adding a specification or changing a sampling rule) you had to move a ton of things around to make sure the Excel sheets kept working as they should.”

This added a lot of extra work to the daily inspection tasks, but also made it much more difficult to evaluate and monitor supplier performance, track which parts were cleared for assembly, and disposition bad parts.

Orbit was far from alone in this precarious situation. Many of the world’s most advanced manufacturers still use paper and Excel sheets to manage all of their quality data.

Bringing in 1factory to Streamline Inspections and Reporting

In 2021, after decades of family ownership, Orbit Irrigation came under new management and the implementation of a robust quality management system became a top priority. Orbit considered several systems, and was eventually referred to 1factory. “Once we found 1factory, they were always at the top of our list,” recalls Robin. “We just thought they had the most complete solution without going overboard on complex features and configurable options. We always felt that 1factory was so clear and concise.”

Once 1factory was selected, the results were practically immediate.

“The time savings and reporting accuracy just went through the roof with 1factory, and so many of my tasks have been simplified,” says Robin. “For example, when I go meet with a vendor I can pull up 1factory and be confident that I have the whole picture for all the parts they’ve sent us. No way was that possible before 1factory – I’d have to spend hours digging up all their inspection sheets, plugging the results into pivot tables, and hoping my Excel sheets didn’t break down on me. All of this work, and the report I showed to suppliers was still not very clear.

“With 1factory, it’s like I’m telling a story, and I love that. I can meet with a vendor, show them detailed inspection results in clear, professional-looking reports and dashboard, and have a productive conversation about what needs to be improved going forward. Not only does it make life easier for me and my team, but it has also improved the relationships with vendors.”

Detailed inspection results data SCARS by Problem type

In addition to tracking the performance of suppliers, 1factory also gives Orbit insight into the efficiency of their team of receiving inspectors:

“One additional benefit that we didn’t even consider before moving to 1factory is how easy it is to track our inspectors and ensure the accuracy of their work. Before we were mostly blind to when measurements were taken, who measured what, and what our inspection capacity was during a given time period. Now, this is all super accessible. It’s a piece of cake to evaluate our inspectors and recognize their work, or provide additional training where needed. 1factory is a very simple system to learn and use, so the inspectors have enjoyed using it, too.”

The Orbit team appreciates the support from 1factory, and is grateful for the system's scalability: “It’s not like other software companies we’ve worked with before where they sell you something once and you never hear from them again. 1factory has helped us every step of the way, and that’s been invaluable for us.” 

Image of outdoor park area with automatic sprinkling systems on.
Source: Shutterstock

Orbit Irrigation continues to innovate and expand solutions for sustainability, water conservation, and energy efficiency across all forms of irrigation. Their commitment to quality, efficient manufacturing, and developing technology are sure to keep the green in customers’ lawns and wallets.