Unclear work instructions often cause confusion on the factory floor. Poorly word work instructions lead to more errors, product defects, and downtime.
Here’s how to create better user manuals for the factory floor.
10 reasons for using a digital user manual:
- Electronic manuals are easier to update, so the user always has the latest information.
- There are no printing or transportation costs for the manufacturer.
- It helps build a lasting image of your factory floor.
- An electronic user manual fits better today. It shows that a company is keeping up with digitization and prioritizing usability.
- A digital user manual can also integrate visual elements and videos.
- A search function makes it easier for users to find information.
- The same document may be viewed or edited by more than one person at the same time.
- In situations where security is paramount, documents may be electronically signed to confirm that they have been received and/or understood.
- The information queried can be captured by analytics tools. This provides valuable input for optimising a product.
- Users often have their phones handy, so it’s much easier to access knowledge at any time on the factory floor.
Here are 5 tips on how to write digital user manuals for your workforce
1. Provide appropriate graphics to support
When you use images, text sticks better and instructions are easier to understand. We process visual information 60,000 times faster than text. By making it visual with pictures, it’s possible for employees who don’t want to or can’t read the instructions, to use a simple picture to explain the instructions. Depending on the difficulty of the task, this makes it easy to understand what needs to be done.
It should be immediately obvious from the title what the work instruction is about and what the main message is. This increases the need for your employees to read on. They see at a glance how important it is to apply the work instructions correctly.
2. Stay to-the-point!
Write appealing text and don’t use long sentences in a user manual. Put the objective at the beginning of the statement. Do this for each section of the work instructions. Use subheadings for the different parts or steps of the work instruction. This ensures that the instructions remains clear. This makes the instructions more accessible and easier to use on the shop floor.
3. Ensure simplicity and step-by-step approach
When writing work instructions, make sure they are unambiguous. If you always build your work instructions the same way, it provides clarity and structure. You don’t have to look at each new work instruction to see how it’s structured, and your operators can get right to work. This ensures that colleagues understand them more easily and quickly. And that your employees actually will use the instructions.
Work in steps and pay attention to the order of tasks. Break tasks down and provide multiple steps that describe the task. Although the steps should guide the user through a task, they should remain reasonably independent of each other – users should be able to look back at work instructions and quickly search for needed information without needing too much context.
4. Always focus on the users
Focus on the end-users. We do this by asking questions like:
- Who are the users?
- What is typical about the users?
- What languages do they speak?
- What is their background?
- What technical experience, qualifications, education, training and knowledge do they have?
- What tasks do they have to perform?
- How often do they perform these tasks?
The more we know about our users, the better we can determine what is important to them and therefore what should ultimately be in a manual. This way we can avoid explaining things in the manual that the user already knows or that are not relevant.
5. Make sure work instructions are easy to find.
Prevent your employees from having to search long for the right knowledge and perhaps deciding to work without the right instruction or with an outdated one. Users should be given only the knowledge they need at the right time to perform the task safely and efficiently. With Azumuta you centralize all your work instructions in a single tool.
No matter what industry you work in, writing clear work instructions and creating a handy user manual is essential for helping your colleagues do their jobs independently and safely. Furthermore, work instructions can help you improve and streamline processes in your business. It’s therefore very important that your employees understand the work instructions and actually use them on the shop floor!
Be sure to check out the blog on creating a user guide in 10 steps. It will help you more to create a user manual that is practical for any application, but especially effective on the factory floor.