Employee uses Power Apps to help Doosan stay fully supplied

When Wontaek Lee started working in the maintenance department of Doosan Energy in South Korea right out of high school, he quickly became aware of a problem that had plagued his co-workers for years.

“We had requests for many different materials, parts and components,” said Lee, an entry-level worker, via a translator. “When we had an equipment failure, we had to go back and forth to determine if parts were available. We had to run to the office and check the stock on the internet, which took a lot of time and effort.

Indeed, Doosan’s sprawling production plant in Changwon, where the company manufactures energy solutions for thermal power, nuclear power and renewable energy, required employees to take a nearly 20-minute trip just to determine if stock was available. Additionally, employees could only make purchase requests from their own computers. These were decidedly analogous steps for a company focused on upgrading its technology.

“Over the past four years, Doosan has been pushing for digitalization across the organization,” said Heemoon Yang, Doosan General Manager. “With the adoption of Microsoft 365, we are moving in this direction, to transform our culture and the way we work with a focus on communication, sharing and collaboration.”

Lee figured there had to be a better way to solve his team’s inventory issues and help speed up the repair process. But he had no computer background or professional development experience, having joined Doosan directly after graduating from high school.

Wontaek Lee stands in the Doosan Enerbility factory. Photo by Jean Chung for Microsoft.

Enter Microsoft Power Apps. The low-code app development platform helps people with little or no coding experience become “citizen developers”, empowering them to build apps that improve productivity or business processes. This includes apps to review nonprofit gift donations, manage travel, and ensure safety compliance or reduce overtime needed to maintain wind turbines.

“As we think about the future of software creation, it’s clear that innovation and creating great app experiences is everyone’s job in the organization,” said the CEO. Microsoft General Satya Nadella during his Microsoft Ignite keynote last month. “It just can’t be data scientists or professional developers. It’s about empowering everyone. »

A person holding a phone depicting the Search Stock app
Wontaek Lee’s app, which is called Search Stock, helps employees in the maintenance department where he works at Doosan Enerbility find the stock they need more easily. Photo by Jean Chung for Microsoft.

Lee discovered Power Apps and began to study the various features offered. His goal was to link inventory data found in excel sheets within the maintenance group to a newly created application that would present availability in a visual, yet readable way. Lee also turned to online videos and found a community of Power Apps users who helped guide him through the process.

In May 2020, Lee launched the prototype of the Search Stock app, much to the surprise of his colleagues. “They were amazed that material information could be checked via mobile,” Lee recalls. “My team leader thought it was a great idea, but also gave me some tips to improve the app.”

The first version created by Lee could only perform a simple inventory check, without any specification of the location of the necessary inventory. The final version added more detail and allowed users to monitor inventory in real time and order needed materials through the app. The 80-person team that Lee belongs to has access to the app, with the ability to scale up to 200 users.

The results have been impressive. The unit reported better workflow because employees can check information during maintenance work without having to make calls or travel between plants. This has led to reduced plant downtime and higher levels of efficiency in production work and repairs.

“We saw a drastic decrease in downtime,” Yang said. “There were a lot of pain points before. Time was wasted trying to identify availability. After the mobile app, there was more value spent on work and less spent on commuting. There have been many positive effects. »

A man is sitting in a conference room
Heemoon Yang, general manager of Doosan Enerbility, said the Wontaek Lee app has developed reduced downtime and other pain points. Photo by Jean Chung for Microsoft.

Yang added that Doosan continues to deliver Power Platform trainings to empower employees to feel more connected to the organization and solve the problems they face on a daily basis. “People in the field know the pain points most accurately, and hopefully they are able to develop applications with those solutions in mind,” he said.

For Lee, seeing his work come to life and make a difference at Doosan is a source of pride. More importantly, he hopes it will serve as an inspiration to other employees who have something to offer but may feel like they aren’t qualified to do so.

“What I did was a simple act, but watching it other people in other departments asked for my help,” Lee said. “They wanted to create their own version that they could use in their own organization. Three people contacted me to create their own mobile application. I’m happy to see that employees like me can contribute to the organization even without computer training .

Top image: Wontaek Lee, who works in the maintenance department at Doosan Enerbility, used Power Apps to develop an app that made finding inventory faster and more efficient. Photo by Jean Chung for Microsoft.

Rosemary C. Kearney