In an industry as complex as manufacturing, ensuring everyone on the shop floor is equipped to carry out their tasks is vitally important. Effective communication, the streamlining of work processes, and the elimination of unnecessary tasks are all essential to a successful operation.
Historically, floor operations relied heavily on paper and other printed documents to share instructions with employees. These “work instructions” were designed to guide each individual through their assigned tasks to achieve the desired result.
The goal? The same, consistent outcome each and every time.
The problem? Traditional work instructions haven’t kept up with the times.
The solution? Digital work instructions that ensure employees are equipped with the right information at the right time.
Digital work instructions provide a more efficient method to implement processes and procedures in a manufacturing environment. Digital documents are easier to store and update and can be accessed across multiple locations. This reduces the risk of outdated information and increases consistency across production teams.
If your company isn’t quite up to par with digital work instructions, don’t worry. It doesn’t take much to make the shift from paper to digital. Let’s take a closer look at digital work instructions – from what they are to the best solutions you should consider to bring them to your production floor.
The Importance of Clear Instructions in Manufacturing
In 2022 and 2023, automation has been a key point of investment across the european manufacturing industry. Furthermore, the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that by 2024 about 50% of manufacturers will prioritize digital literacy as a skill set during the talent acquisition/retention process to stay competitive.
Having clear and concise instructions for this new and tech-savvy workforce is vital to thrive in the sector. It allows for a swift and efficient workflow that deprecates paper-based instructions in favor of digital solutions.
Traditional paper instructions are often:
- Outdated: Paper documents can be challenging to update, making it hard to ensure information remains up-to-date. A single mistake in the production process can lead to costly and time-consuming rework.
- Unclear: Written instructions often lack clarity and detail, leading to confusion and mistakes. This can slow down production times and cause quality issues. Imagine if a new machine is added to the line, but the instructions don’t reflect the change – a recipe for disaster.
- Inefficient: Paper-based processes require manual tracking of documents, which is labor-intensive and prone to human error. It’s impossible to know where a document is at any given time, and changes can’t be made quickly or efficiently.
- Difficult to Access: Paper documents require physical storage and retrieval, making it difficult for teams to access them quickly on different shifts or in multiple locations.
Digital work instructions provide an adaptive and visually appealing alternative with interactive elements for improved learning and user experiences. And with their cloud-based architecture, they can be quickly and easily accessed from any location at any moment by any authorized user.
What are Digital Work Instructions?
Since traditional work instructions can’t keep up with the demands of a modern manufacturing floor, how can manufacturers stay organized and efficient? Digital work instructions are the answer.
Digital work instructions (DWIs) are interactive, multimedia-rich documents that replace paper-based instructions with digital equivalents.
Depending on the task at hand, DWIs can include text, images, videos, audio recordings, and other interactive elements – making them a more effective way to communicate instructions than traditional paper-based documents.
While digital work instructions are often designed to complement the existing training process, they can be used as standalone documents. Digital work instructions quickly become the go-to choice for any manufacturing process engineer looking to improve their operational efficiency and execution.
Why Use Digital Working Instructions in Manufacturing?
The ability to access real-time information from anywhere information from any location, is invaluable in the manufacturing sector.
While every industry can benefit from digital work instructions, a few key points continue to make them especially important in manufacturing:
1. Increased Role Accessibility
Digital work instructions are easily accessible, allowing operators to retrieve information from various devices such as tablets or smartphones. When working on a manufacturing floor, quickly accessing instructions can save a lot of time and effort.
2. Enhanced Flexibility
Manufacturing involves working with a variety of products, machines, and processes. DWIs allow for flexibility when it comes to updating instructions quickly as needed. For instance, if you work on an assembly line for multiple products, switching the instructions depending on which product you’re assembling is easy.
3. The Power of Automation
DWIs are usually integrated into a wider automation system, allowing for a more efficient workflow and better-informed decisions. This is especially true when combined with advanced analytics tools that provide real-time insights into production processes and performance data.
4. Greater Standardization
Digital work instructions provide a standard format for presenting information—ensuring everyone is on the same page and following the same procedures. This helps reduce errors and ensures everyone follows the same safety protocols.
5. Reduced Downtime
The bane of any manufacturing line is downtime due to errors or lack of availability of resources. DWIs help eliminate this problem by ensuring operators have the most up-to-date information and can easily access it whenever needed.
6. Boosted Compliance & Safety
Digital work instructions can alert and guide operators through regulatory or safety procedures to minimize risks and ensure compliance with industry standards. This is especially important in manufacturing firms, as it helps protect workers and reduce liability risks.
7. Cost Savings
Naturally, DWIs can help save money by eliminating the need for manual or paper-based processes. For instance, an effective digital work instructions system – when applied to a production line – can significantly reduce paperwork and manual error-checking.
Additionally, storing all the information in one place makes it easier for companies to manage and update their processes. This helps reduce costs associated with maintaining multiple systems.
8. Improved Traceability
Digital work instructions make it easier for manufacturers to track changes over time and improve their visibility into the production process. With easy access to information, manufacturers can quickly identify and rectify any issues that may arise with their processes or products.
Top Digital Work Instructions Software
While the concept of digital work instructions for manufacturing can be enticing, they are nothing without a robust and reliable software system to back them up. Some manufacturing software allows you to create, store, and access work instructions whenever needed. Plus, you can easily customize, optimize, and update instructions as required.
Here are some of the top manufacturing software that include digital work instructions solutions:
Azumuta is a software solution designed for manufacturing companies that provides digital work instructions to guide operators, enhance their productivity, increase employee satisfaction, and improve the quality of the products.
Azumuta provides a work instructions editor that allows full customization. It offers an easy-to-use and paperless platform that comes with various features, such as photo and video imports, 3D file viewer, PDF attachment, connection to peripherals, quality control options, and much more. All these features, enable users to create effective digital work instructions.
Next to work instructions, Azumuta’s platform offers complementary modules focused on other aspects of the manufacturing process where work instructions can be leverage, such as:
- Skill Matrix & Training – Where HR can use work instructions as training material
- Quality Management – Where operators can flag quality issues for Quality Managers while following work instructions.
Audits & Digital Checklists – For Safety Managers and Maintenance Managers to add preventive and compliance requirements on the instructions.
Tulip is a software solution that assists manufacturing companies in optimizing their frontline operations. It offers valuable insights into quality, process cycle times, and other relevant metrics.
Tulip uses cloud-based technology to support retail operations. With Tulip, manufacturers with IT skills can create step-by-step instructions. The platform also allows users to track performance in real-time and make adjustments as needed.
Operations1 provides a certain degree of worker guidance for manufacturing companies. In a similar way to Azumuta, the platform is scalable and offers dynamic work instructions and checklists that can be used to ensure that processes are followed correctly.
Operations1 enables users to connect with workers and oversee operations. Moreover, it offers digitization of employee-led production processes, starting from activity planning to process guidance.
Poka supports visual work instructions with video, text, images, documents, links, and e-signatures. They also support checklists and forms.
Their mission is to standardize operations and improve management on the shop floor. Their product development is mostly focused on knowledge management, so quality management and preventive maintenance are not yet part of their offer.
SwipeGuide’s focus is to build knowledge documentation to instruct on how-to build. They support work instructions across different industries to help businesses coordinate instructions, checklists, and training.
The tool can work online or on-site, making it very customizable. A downside of SwipeGuide is the need for technical support while setting things up or when updates are required. Unlike other products, you need a lot of technical knowledge to go about this tool.
Create a Digital Work Instruction
Examples of Successful Work Instructions
So what do robust work instructions look like? Here are a few examples to consider:
Addax Motors: Using Digital Work Instructions Move From Excel Docs to Interactive Processes
Before using Azumuta, Addax Motors relied on paperwork instructions and Excel spreadsheets in their manufacturing processes – making processes labor-intensive and time-consuming. When they moved their production line, they switched to digital work instructions with Azumuta.
The platform has centralized the orders and made the onboarding process more streamlined. It has also simplified the production process monitoring and provided user-friendly interfaces for administrators and operators. Plus, a focus on lean manufacturing principles, digitalization, and automation has helped Addax Motors move from a manual process to an interactive one.
Provan: Enhancing Operator Efficiency with Digital Work Instructions for Manufacturing
Provan, a metalwork company, has shifted from paper and PDF work instructions to completely digital ones using Azumuta. The interactive digital work instructions help operators assemble products correctly and efficiently.
Azumuta also offers features like scheduling audits, reporting production issues, and tracking operators’ time spent on tasks. By integrating with their ERP system, Provan has created a seamless interaction between software and production processes, resulting in a paperless factory floor and improved efficiency.
The Bottom Line
With the continuous growth and a move toward digital transformation in manufacturing, the implementation of digital work instructions in the manufacturing industry has proven to be a game-changer. Adopting these efficient and accessible tools results in improved safety, better compliance, faster production, and, ultimately, increased revenue.
Manufacturers considering a shift towards digital work instructions should carefully evaluate the top software options to find the most suitable solution for their organization. Implementing this modern approach ensures they stay competitive, optimize their processes, and maintain growth as the industry adapts to future advancements.
Contact Azumuta today to begin the implementation of digital work instructions in your organization. Our team of experts is here to help you every step of the way to show you how to implement and leverage the most out of this powerful technology for your manufacturing floor.