Interactive Training Systems - 2022 MFG Innovation Excellence

This article will appear in the September/October 2023 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read past issues online.

Digitization and technology-based solutions are impacting all areas of manufacturing — even documentation and training. Fenton-based Interactive Training Systems (ITS) has made it their mission to enhance and streamline documentation and training processes through advanced technology.

From producing highly technical Operations and Maintenance (O&M) manuals to offering augmented reality programming to train new employees, ITS has been at the forefront of documentation and training which is why they were selected as the 2022 MFG Innovation Excellence Award recipient.

ITS was founded as a mechanical engineering services company with one customer. Since that time, they’ve expanded to 400 customers and have a global footprint but the engineering core has remained intact. During his 30 years at ITS, Owner and CEO Keller McGaffey has seen many changes in the industry and a lot of evolution in the company that his father founded in 1968 as John D. McGaffey & Company. He says in the mid-1990s, with the advent of robotics and new technology in the automotive industry, it became apparent that his company needed to evolve fast to avoid an overcrowded market.

“We recognized there was a real need for documentation and operation maintenance manuals so people could troubleshoot, maintain, operate and repair complex machinery,” says McGaffey.

Having an operations manual is one thing, but how do we make it easier and faster for the operator to learn? McGaffey says they had a “light bulb” moment when they realized they could be distilling highly complex operation instructions into a 3D animation.

“We could show how these mechanisms worked, how they came apart, how they would explode — all animated,” says McGaffey. “That was really cutting edge at the time.”

In many ways, ITS was way ahead of its time considering how training and learning has evolved.

“Documentation used to be all paper. Now when something breaks at home, what do you do? You go to your phone, right?” says Doug Maguffee, President of ITS. “Our mission is to work with our customers to make digitalization a reality.”

Maguffee, who has been with ITS for 30 years, has also seen a lot change during his career but ITS’s mechanical engineering core is still vital to developing solutions for their customers.

“We know the components that go into machines. We know the technologies and the components that are in electrical cabinets. We know how they operate. So that's a big plus for us when we're talking with our customers because we're already in alignment with them,” says Maguffee.

ITS services and products can go a long way in addressing the manufacturing industry’s skills gap, which is a critical issue as manufacturers face more and more baby boomers reaching retirement age.

“Bringing technology into documentation is necessary for survival,” says Amy Seymour, Director of Operations. “It's a difficult task to prepare for the future as this workforce is aging and retiring, but there are very simple tools we can put in place to remedy that. Our quick response library and our interactive technical manuals are two products that are proven to address this gap.”

With their industry-leading solutions and continued growth, it’s no wonder ITS was selected as the 2022 MFG Innovation Excellence Award recipient. Displaying his signature style of humble leadership, Maguffee says he’s dumbfounded by the company’s nomination.

“Just being nominated for the award alone was overwhelming. I was so humbled by the fact our customers would think that highly of us to do that,” says Maguffee. “Every time I look at the award, it just reminds me of what we do here and why we do it.”

Premium Associate MemberThe Manufacturing Innovation Excellence Award is part of the annual Manufacturing Excellence Awards which celebrate the leaders and products that are pushing the industry forward. Learn more about the awards program and gala.