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The Impact of Digital Work Instructions

Cultural Impact   /   Jun 22nd, 2019   /  A+ | a-
I have spent my career as a manufacturing engineer, and every project I have ever done required a baseline of data collection. The task was repetetive, and in an industry full of automation I was baffled as to why I was stuck in a world of repetition.

The digital work instruction industry provides for so many advantages that many manufacturers struggle to grasp the complete benefit of such technology. Despite meetings, demonstrations, and even months of being a customer I am amazed how often I hear, "I had no idea it would do that!"

So when it comes to successfully implementing a work instruction software, here are the 4 major steps you should follow:

#1 Start Simple: Focus on Culture

It always scares me we a new prospect wants to implement work instructions on their bottleneck, for a few major reasons.
  1. Your staff knows they are the bottleneck and are most likely stressed.
  2. All new changes require some time to get situated, your bottleneck doesn't have that time.
  3. It is difficult to standardize a process when the current process is a mess.
We recommend selecting a more progressive and repetitive area to perform an evaluation.

A large process change will be far more successful if/when you involve the staff who will use it. By selecting an area that is under less stress, you will have far more time to collaborate and adjust.

Often new customers begin without instructions.

Though it might sound strange that a work instruction software recommends that you start WITHOUT instructions. In Scout System's platform, if instructions do not exist the platform will automatically run in a simpler version that can still provide the operators access to management to record problems and production data. This allows the operators to become more familiar with becoming integrated with a computer program while doing their daily tasks.

#2 Work Together to Eliminate a Problem

After your operators feel comfortable using manufacturing software, you can review the information with your staff to understand the troubles the face and decide how to improve. For example, the Pareto Charts will show the top-hitting Pause reasons. Maybe your operators have frequent issues with tools failing, or spend way too much time looking for material.

As your operators discover how using digital work instructions acts as a direct communication line to management, they will become more motivated to use the tool to report process complications - the more they do this the more you will discover ways to improve!

#3 Create Work Instructions

There are so many incredible advantages of migrating your process into a digital work instruction platform BEYOND standardizing a process, one of my favorites is automated defect and safety warnings. Since your staff is more in tune with the benefits of this type of technology and have seen the support from management, now is the time you can begin to implement the next wave of changes. 
Want to remind operators of proper PPE at the start of a job? How about every 10 parts remind them to verify the lot has no defects?

No one likes making defects, and especially no one likes getting hurt on the job. In the digital world, you can automate methods to improve quality and make work safer.

#4 Increase Production Capacity

Your operators are now more on-board than ever, processes have become more standard, and defects/injuries have fallen to record levels. This is when you can crank up the speed and maximize your plant's throughput.

Want to add some artificial intelligence to your factory? I sure hope so, because if you use Scout Systems that comes standard! Let's start simple:
As you use our data collection platform, it becomes more and more intelligent. No baby sitting, no data entry, no math. It will analyze production while your operators are building, and after enough data points have been achieved it will begin to calculate when it believe the job will finish. Your material handlers or Leads can see these results in live time and know when to bring the materials for the next job - significantly reducing gaps in production.

Another MAJOR benefit is the data processing that is done in every single report. If you haven't read about tracking OEE in your plant, you should read this OEE blog post. Essentially our data collection platform does the automation I dreamt of in the opening sentence.
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