Working in the manufacturing sector often involves handling dangerous machinery. Without clear instructions on how to perform a task, production line workers are at high risk of injury or of causing damage to products and equipment, resulting in machine downtime.
To increase productivity, it’s imperative to adopt best practices when it comes to issuing work instructions for manufacturing processes.
The concept of step-by-step guides is hardly new. However, this became a formal requirement for many businesses when the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) added this to ISO 900, as part of a group of quality management system (QMS) standards. ISO 9001 specifies that companies must provide their employees detailed documentation outlining work instructions for manufacturing process tasks. Traditionally provided in physical form, written manuals are increasingly being created and issued digitally.
Your workforce includes a wide range of skills, training, and experience, so helping workers get up to speed with new processes can be challenging. Digitized work instructions help streamline processes from across the plant floor into one unified view to optimize productivity during onboarding and skills training. Digital work instructions make processes more efficient while simplifying tough-to-interpret steps.
Let’s examine some key reasons why digital work instructions are invaluable for the manufacturing process.
Video clips and other visual media are far more effective than paragraphs of descriptive text when you want to convey instructions to workers. Digital work instructions for manufacturing production can incorporate all kinds of rich media that engage workers, so they are not restricted to manuals, signs, or handouts.
Physical manuals and sheets of paper can easily get lost or tossed away. By incorporating work instructions into your company’s digital transformation, instructions can be linked to specific stages or tasks in your workflow or project management software to use anywhere from onboarding to upskills training. You can ensure documentation is effective throughout the entire workflow by tracking the action that occurs after a worker engages with the instruction.
Digital work instructions can make your process more efficient as you can edit documentation whenever you like, automatically giving everyone in the organization immediate access to the most up-to-date version. This prevents employees from using old, out-of-date work instructions.
Updates to work instructions are not limited to changing processes or technologies. Often, the wording of a work instruction may seem perfectly easy for one person follow, yet confusing to another colleague. Misleading instructions can result in human error, slowing down workforce productivity and rendering products unusable or in need of rework. For these situations, you need a quick and easy way to collect and implement feedback. Fortunately, digital work instructions offer a straightforward solution as an efficient method to update unclear steps.
Work instructions are at the forefront of the manufacturing process. By digitizing them, you can tweak and perfect how they are presented to your manufacturing team.
Discover how to implement digital work instructions to optimize your workforce in our eBook "The Secret to Unleashing Workforce Productivity" or learn more about PTC’s Digital Manufacturing Solutions.
Leah Gourley is a Digital Content Marketing Specialist based out of PTC's Boston office. She enjoys creating and sharing content surrounding the latest technologies that are transforming industries, including augmented reality and the industrial internet of things.