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Published 04 Apr 2023, Updated 12 Dec 2023

Toy Factory Delivers Fun With IoT-Enabled Manufacturing

JCore hardware + software solution tracks production and predicts order completion dates in real time

Forrest Keller

As summer crowds fill carnivals and amusement parks, colorful plush prizes beckon those willing to try their luck on the midway. From Universal Studios to Six Flags to the local carnival, no one supplies more of those prizes to the amusement industry than The Toy Factory. 

As Toy Factory grew into the leading national supplier of plush toys, their manual processes for tracking production became increasingly unwieldy.  “We tried to manage a production schedule on a spreadsheet, which became increasingly challenging because the nature of our business is that our customers don’t plan too far ahead”, said Mark Gawlik, the president of The Toy Factory.

Inspired by Mr. Gawlik’s background in both accounting and computer science, Toy Factory sought out an IoT-enabled solution to better manage their sprawling production flow. After a false start with an offshore consulting shop, they settled on an integrated hardware and software solution provided by JCore Systems. 

The JCore solution eliminates almost all manual data entry by integrating tightly with Toy Factory’s accounting and ERP system. When customer orders are released to the production floor, they are automatically synchronized from the accounting database to the JCore-provided order tracker. Based on actual staffing levels and shift times, the JCore order tracker estimates when each order will be completed, and even allows supervisors to prioritize orders via a simple drag and drop interface.

When the stuffing process begins, JCore-provided software running on tablets at each machine allows the operator to precisely track the production flow. They can select a product from the jobs that are currently active on the floor, enter the quantity being built, and even indicate when production stops for scheduled breaks or unplanned machine downtime. This information drives a real time scoreboard in the production area, identifying high performers and helping supervisors match workers to the products they’re most efficient at building.

As each toy exits the stuffing area, it takes a short conveyor belt ride to the closing area, where workers deftly use a curved needle and thread to sew each toy shut. Unlike in the stuffing area, workers in the closing area do not work in easily measured batches. But with the help of JCore’s IoT hardware,  Toy Factory still collects meaningful data from this process. Each time a worker in the closing area finishes a toy, they press a foot pedal connected to a JCore Iron Pi. The Iron Pi then instantly transmits the event to the cloud, where it’s associated with a worker and added to per-worker and per-shift totals. Like in the stuffing area, this information drives a real time scoreboard, showing supervisors at a glance whether production is on track for the day.

These changes have led to improved operations for the company. “It greatly improved our efficiency–not only managing the production schedule, but also labor”, said Mr. Gawlik. This improvement, alongside their consistency delivering high quality toys to their customers has led to them becoming the largest supplier of licensed midway game prizes in the industry.

In the end, it all comes down to trust.  “The last thing we want to do is make a commitment to somebody that we then don’t fulfill. Having that production schedule in front of a salesperson, they can see what we have in the hopper and where that order will fit in.”

About JCore Systems

JCore Systems develops cutting-edge industrial data solutions, empowering companies with high-end embedded hardware, on-site bridge software, and remote monitoring software. These products increase real-time operational visibility at over 200 sites across different industries nationwide. Please visit https://jcore.io for the latest news and information about JCore.

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