Infinite Inventory

Internet of things based digital solution for continuous real-time tracking of inventory parts for Rolls Royce aviation.


5 Weeks
August 2021 - October 2021


Business Product Manager
UX Researcher
2 UX Designers


Rolls Royce Aviation


5 Weeks
August 2021 - October 2021


Business Product Manager
UX Researcher
2 UX Designers


Rolls Royce Aviation

My Role

User research - Persona/empathy maps.
Analysis - solution workflow.
UX Design - facilitate brainstorming, UI design, IOT workflow design.


Project Summary

The Rolls Royce Aviation, Indianapolis, US, manufactures nozzles for helicopter turbine engines.

Currently the welding department manually tracks the non-scheduled parts(parts like nuts and bolts whose quantities cannot be defined, but are essential for the manufacturing process).This is prone to errors and delays the timely manufacturing and delivery of the engines and kits.

As part of the solution, we designed an automated digital tracking system using internet of things (IOT) that provides real time information about the inventory status and order updates anytime anywhere.


What is the problem and how is it impacting the users and business?

Back order of non-scheduled parts which are crucial for manufacturing nozzles that are essential for the timely delivery of engines and kits.
1.Manual process for tracking inventory parts.
2.Added responsibility for supervisors.
3.Prone to human errors and order delays.
5+ Nozzles
Manufactured each week
Average cost per nozzle
>3 days
Supply chain delay(Avg)
$24k +
Loss due to procurement
*Metrics based on the department we worked with - 1554 tack weld team

our Challenge

How might we improve the inventory management system at RR to always ensure enough supply of non-scheduled parts for timely delivery of production orders?


IOT based real-time inventory management

Watch the hardware and the corresponding UI in action.

Weight sesnors, aurdino programming kit, and regular Led.
Digital dashbord to relay the real time inventory status with low inventory and missing bins warning.

The Process

How did we arrive at the solution?

write something here

Contextual inquiry

The shelf orientation and bin placement

The shelf as indicated below had a slanting partition to hold to bins. Bins were of varying sizes with the parts in it uniquely identified by the part number.

The non-scheduled parts
Bin shape and size
The storage shelf used by the welding team.


Whom did we talk to?

We talked to the stakeholders, Ryan(supervisor of the welding department), and welders to understand their pain points and needs. Further stakeholders clarified the business goals and constraints we would need to work with.

Formative Research

Understanding the bin inventory management  systems

Formative research helped us get a good idea of how inventory management is done at small-scale and large-scale companies, and automation is used in existing similar systems.

Some insights that we gathered were:
Load cells were the most commonly used sensor on bins to calculate the weight. Analytics helped decide the rate of parts consumption based on usage habits and patterns. RFIDs were widely used to track orders and parts once out for delivery. One of the existing technologies that really inspired me was the BinSense bin management system.


Putting it together.

Post the research phase, we collectively discussed and exchanged thoughts from our individual findings to put together the existing inventory management process at Rolls Royce.

current workflow of how the parts are tracked manually


What insights did we distill?

From the above workflow we were able to gather and categorize different insights as below:
*These insights helped us give a good direction of what we might need in terms of sensors, technology and infrastructure going into the ideation phase.

User Behaviours, work practices
Ryan and the welders

Ryan(supervisor) and the welders identified the parts by their numbers(parts ID) and not the bins.

Welders did not care to put the bins back to its place and used it at their convenience causing unorganised bin placement.

Ryan had to manually collect the empty bins lying around the station.

Ryan placed the empty bins at the top of the shelf so that it could be pickup up by the dock worker once the restocking order was placed.

The shelf
What did Ryan say?

Welders were mostly goverened by the union workforce and hence did not care about the bins or the parts.

welders would not take any additional responsiblity of organizing the shelf as it was considered additional work for them.

"The lack of communication when bins get too empty is the most frustrating part. It's even more frustrating when the supplier is also out of those parts which causes extremely long lead times."

Welding station infrastructure
The welding station infrastructure.

The lighting in the station was dull and welders could not see the bins from a distance.

The docking station where the parts arrived was pretty far from the shelf.

There was no power source near to the shelf.


Now was the time to take all the analysis and learnings and empathise with the users.

Empathy map

Empathizing with the users

The team came together post the research phase to collaboratively empathise with the users, empathy maps helped us understand the pain points and goals of the users as a team so that everyone in the team is on the same page throughout the design process. Further we created a persona for the team to empathise with the user throughout the future phases of the design process.(to keep the user in mind always while designing)

Empathy Maps for Ryan(the Supervisor) and Graham(welder)

Persona for Ryan and Welder


We  defined our problem statement, constraints and design requirements.

The Problem Statement

How might we help Rolls-Royce Aviation ensure continuous availability of parts needed to manufacture airplane nozzles in a timely manner using internet of things and eliminate the burden of manual bin management?


Setting up boundaries and expectations

After understanding the goals of the business, it was important to also understand limitations that we would need to work with. Some constraints or boundaries that would help us not become too ambitious:

The time line of the project was 5 weeks, hence we decided on meeting with the client every week for feedback.
We were mandated to use a hybrid sensor technology which meant we had to use more than one different kind of sensors.
User Behavior
The client did not want any additional work/behavioural changes to their users.
Internet of things
The solution had to be based on the Internet-of-things technology.


Scoping out the design requirenments

After understanding the goals of the business and user pain points we defined the design requirements that we would want to achieve through our solution so that it satisfies the needs of the personas we created and alleviates the pains of our users:

All Time access to current inventory levels from anywhere.
Low inventory alerts.
Communication channel with the vendor to track delivery and update on lead times.
Parts usage statistics and analysis for understanding rate of usage
Scalable, dynamic and a comprehensive solution.This is some text inside of a div block.

Ideate, Feedback, Iterate, Design

We ideated to come up with different solution possibilities and gathered feedback based on which we iterated and designed our final solution


Collaborative white-boarding session explore solutions.

For the ideation phase, we identified  different permutations and combinations of load sensors, IR sensors, computer vision and other technologies that we could use in our solution:

Load sensors on shelf
Discarded this idea as this would mean that the welders would always need to put the bins back on the shelf
Load sensors on the shelf
This is a feasible option as this would be more efficient in tracking the exact weight of the bin and would also allow the welders to use the bin the way they want
Image processing on shelf
This was not possible as we would need a lot of cameras and the lighting within the station was poor.
IR sensors
This was a good option, but using this would mean a lot of changes to the shelf architecture, hence discared.
This was something we decided will be used to uniquely identify a bin's location.
Load sensors on bin
This was the most feasible idea.
Load sensor can be easily installed inside a bin and this would allow the welders to freely use the bin and whenever the weight of the bin reduced than a set threshold, it would send an alert insicating that the parts would nwo need to be ordered.
Visual Indicators
Since the lighting in the station was dull, we wanted to use LED indicators on the shelf so that anyone can easily determine the level of the inventory at any time.

Updated Workflow indicating the changes to the bin

Updated bin workflow diagram to illustrate our idea.

For the ideation phase, we identified  different permutations and combinations that can be used to improve the inventory management process:

Closeup view of the shelf and Bin, with led, RFID and Load Sensor.
Updated workflow diagram.

Client feedback

Pitched the idea and for feedback and critique

Below are some feedback from the clients:

The clients were happy with the provided solution as it ticked most of the boxes that were defined as part of the           design requirements.

However, one feedback that we wanted to iterate on was that the part of the workflow where the refilled stock          had to be brought back to shelf still involved some manual work and there was scope for improvement

That's me pitching my part of the presentation

Final Solution

Based on the client feedback, we regrouped and iterated on the solution to update a few parts of it and proposed the final solution.


Updated and final solution.

Based on the client feedback we modified the solution a bit and added one new set of bins considered as temporary bins that would be only used to restock empty bins at the dock , this also helped to reduce the delivery lead times.

Ideation Sketches
Updated Workflow Diagram
Bin workflow diagram

High Fidelity

High fidelity screens and solution demo

Based on the client feedback we modified the solution a bit and added one new set of bins considered as temporary bins that would be only used to restock empty bins at the dock , this also helped to reduce the delivery lead times.

Below is a proof of concept video that we created for better understand of how the UI and the hardware component are mapped and interact with each other.



Easy access to parts inventory anywhere, anytime.


Parts shortage and bin misplaced alerts.


Order history and prioritisation


Easy visual indication

One-Click Order


order easily through the application.


track order and prioritise them.



Informed decision making.


understand usage patterns.

FInal pitch

Pic from the final pitch.

Happy faces post our final pitch:-)

More Projects

Here are a few of more of my case studies.

Denlo Co-Living
Savi Community Profiles
Data Driven Decision Enabler