North Pole Times: Computer Vision Solves Critical Shortage of Elf Labor

Santa Claus Revolutionizes Toy Production with Atollogy’s Digital Industrial Engineer

In a series of investigative reports, The North Pole Times has uncovered the clever way Santa Claus addressed a growing and chronic shortage of Elf labor.  In a series of interviews, it became apparent that the millennial generation of elves lack the work ethic required to support today’s toy production requirements. Santa had to also address an aging generation of managers and supervisors looking to retire, as well as a dearth of Lean and continuous improvement training.

Santa initially engaged a prestigious consulting firm to conduct traditional industrial engineering and continuous improvement projects. Using clip boards and stop watches, the consultants offered a series of improvement options after presenting their six-figure invoice. Unfortunately, the consultants did not factor in the Hawthorne effect – the age-old problem that initial improvements typically subside once the consultants stop watching and depart, allowing workers to revert back to their old practices.  

In desperation, Santa asked the good boys and girls at Atollogy to deploy its new Digital Industrial Engineering solution – DigIE. Using A.I. and machine learning, the elf managers positioned the mobile cameras to evaluate the most critical work center bottlenecks. Unlike labor-intensive continuous improvement efforts, Atollogy’s A.I. and computer vision monitoring never stops watching so there is no Hawthorne effect. Atollogy configured dashboards and alerts to warn of line stoppages and work center imbalances in critical areas of toy production. Even the most experienced elf managers were surprised by the new insights that continuous monitoring and analytics provided.  Using the new information, the managers were able to shift workers quickly and adjust machine capacities as requirements changed.  

The elf workers, especially the millennials, were becoming less and less productive as the day progressed.  They had a habit of spiking their eggnog with brandy during each break.  Using Atollogy’s digital industrial engineer Santa was able to receive immediate alerts whenever line rates slowed. (Elves are very sociable and like to congregate together, even if there is no work for them.) To protect privacy, Atollogy obscures individual identifies as a default, and Santa never uses computer vision for disciplinary purposes. 

In the toy fabrication centers, Atollogy’s DigIE provides continuous monitoring and flags machines that have stopped or where there is no worker present to operate them.  In many cases, elves were busy in quality control or tooling, not realizing their job was completed and a new toy was needed to be loaded in the machine.

Finally, Santa acknowledged an unexpected benefit of improved safety and security from mobile computer vision. Because Atollogy’s cameras never take a break or blink, his managers were able to spot unwanted visitors, contractors who overstayed their scheduled times, maintenance crews napping on the job, reindeer wandering around in search of a snack, and a wide variety of safety violations.

Thanks to Atollogy’s revolutionizing North Pole toy operations, Santa is now confident his team can meet growing demand, lower their costs, and improve security and safety.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Atollogy Team!


Anthony Tarantino, PhD

Adjunct Professor, Santa Clara University – Operations and Finance

Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Certified Scrum Master, CPIM (APICS), CPM (ISM)

Senior Advisor to Atollogy