The people and history behind FLAGS Software

FLAGS Software is part of Touch Systems, one of the leading software development companies in the UK. Founded in 1989 by university friends Nick Elkin and Richard Gamlin, Touch Systems has revolutionised quality inspections for assembly line manufacturers. In fact, we created the very first pen-based touchscreen application to be commercially available in the UK.

Nearly 30 years on and Nick and Richard are still at the helm. Nick heads up FLAGS Software while Richard manages our sister brand, Clarity Software. Business Development Manager Sam Yarnall and Head of Product Development Richard Mott support Nick, along with the rest of our passionate, dedicated team based in Solihull, UK. Across the pond, Gary Halford runs our North America branch from Ontario, Canada.

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Touch Systems is founded

Software engineers Nick Elkin and Richard Gamlin found Touch Systems and launch the very first version of FLAGS Software. In its earliest manifestation, FLAGS translates words written with a stylus pen into computerised text and allows users to capture the exact location of faults on a product image. Quality inspectors record faults this way, plugging their hand-held terminals into their desktop computers at the end of a shift to transfer the information.

Inspection precision today 1989
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Jaguar implements FLAGS Software

Attracted by the speed and precision offered by FLAGS Software, prestigious car manufacturer Jaguar starts using FLAGS to improve the accuracy of quality inspections in their paint shop. Today, Jaguar Land Rover uses FLAGS across five different plants in two continents.

1990
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Goodbye stylus, hello touchscreen

Before the term ‘smartphone’ was even coined, FLAGS Software had started enabling users to record data with the touch of a finger. (It would be another 14 years before the first iPhone would be released.)

1993
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FLAGS becomes wireless

Rather than having to plug terminals into computers to upload information, FLAGS Software can now transmit data using radio waves. This means the overall number and type of faults found can be collated in real time. Manufacturers can spot trends and investigate emerging issues in minutes instead of weeks.

1995
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We welcome Bentley as a client

Bentley adopts FLAGS Software in order to drive the premium quality of their product.

1997
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FLAGS allows for the automatic capture of data

While we can’t take credit for introducing the automation of manufacturing processes (introduced in the late 1940s), we can claim to be the first to introduce the automatic capture of process data. Around 1998, FLAGS Software starts recording critical information from the paint shop, such as the oven temperature and how long products stay in the dip.

1998
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Aston Martin becomes our latest distinguished client

Rounding off the millennia in a spectacular way, we are proud to welcome Aston Martin as a client of FLAGS Software.

1999
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Komatsu implements FLAGS Software

Already well established in the automotive arena, FLAGS Software branches into a new industry with leading mining and construction equipment manufacturer Komatsu.

2000
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The energy industry gets wind of FLAGS Software

As well as optimising quality inspections within the manufacturing process, FLAGS can enhance the precision, reliability and standardisation of inspections on existing products – on site. In 2002 we join forces with Doosan Power Systems.

2002
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FLAGS starts texting

In around 2003, we enhanced FLAGS with SMS technology. A huge step forward in real-time information sharing; now engineers, managers – anyone with a mobile phone – can receive notifications directly from production line machines. People can be alerted to faults or the movement of products, wherever they are.

Notifications 2003
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Widespread information collation

With the ability to extract data from various points along the production line, the natural progression for FLAGS Software was to collate this information. By bringing together previously fragmented data into a centralised dashboard, FLAGS enables users to make better informed decisions.

2004
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We break into America with Amtrak

Amtrak adopt FLAGS Software to optimise rail carriage production and quality.

2005
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Quality control process enforcement

Employees are empowered to work smarter with the introduction of quality inspection checklists. Rather than having to remember which checks to perform, quality inspectors can follow a series of questions within FLAGS. Inspections are standardised, guaranteeing products are put through the same paces.

Quality control 2006
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FLAGS Workflow Optimisation is introduced

FLAGS can now assign actions, targets and ownership to specific points throughout the manufacturing process – and compare actual performance to business KPIs. The implications of this new technology are significant and far-reaching. Businesses can now have full visibility of their plant’s performance in real time and easily identify opportunities for improvement.

Workflow Optimisation 2008
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We enter the injection moulding industry with Rosti

Rosti is a global leader in the manufacturing and supply of injection moulded products. We are pleased to add Rosti to our fast growing list of clients.

Our USA expansion continues with Malibu Boats and Motor Coach Industries

Word spreads across the states of the impact of FLAGS Software on production line efficiency. We are proud to implement FLAGS at the plants of Tennessee-based water sports boat manufacturer, Malibu Boats, and of Illinois-based bus manufacturer Motor Coach Industries.

2015
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100% in-process inspections and vision inspection integration

Before our latest enhancements to FLAGS Software, gap and flushness tests would require products to be taken out of the production line process. Thanks to increased integration ability, FLAGS Software can now ‘talk’ to measurement systems that perform these tests – both providing and extracting data. This means manufacturers can now perform inspections 100% ‘in process’.

2016 also saw vision inspection integration added to the ever-increasing capabilities of FLAGS Software. Now bespoke product specifications – as defined at point of sale – can be automatically checked before roll off.

Ecosystem 2016

The future

With technology developing faster than ever before, we are genuinely excited about what the next few years hold for FLAGS Software. We currently have a team dedicated to innovation and researching the potential applications of emerging technologies.