Share Your Work with Autonomous Smart Work Instructions

By: Ben Baldwin

March 1, 2021

smart work instructions

Within smart work instructions, there are many ways for employees to interact with the software. Alongside modern technology, the methods of interacting with work instructions seem endless.

But did you know that VKS can also work autonomously with little to no interaction?

With smart work instructions that function independently, employees can focus on their specific tasks. Our work instruction software takes care of other duties such as progressing to the next step, capturing data, and communicating with other systems. Your employees are sharing part of their work with the smart work instructions. This enables them to be more productive and add better value.

From signing in, navigating, completing tasks, and entering data, let us explore the benefits of autonomous smart work instructions on your shop floor.

Why Should Smart Work Instructions be Autonomous?

The purpose of autonomous software is to reduce the need for hands-on interaction. We want the employee to interact with the work instructions without wasting any time or movement.

In the broad sense, the ability to apply autonomy to your work instructions will benefit your shop floor in 2 major ways:

  • Improving workstation functionality and worker productivity
  • Accurately and autonomously capturing key manufacturing data

These benefits empower your workers to function at peak efficiency and achieve amazing accuracy. By taking advantage of a purpose-built system that can perform many duties without direct human intervention, your workers can focus on their complex tasks and duties.

Ergonomics and the Working Environment Are Important

workstation

When setting up a workstation, ergonomics need to be considered. How will your employees interact with their tools and their equipment within their environment?

Not all assembly tasks are conveniently located in one area or on a classic workbench. Some jobs need operators and engineers to move around their projects. This and other factors can make it difficult for workers to interact with a stationary computer.

With this in mind, having software that requires less interaction is invaluable. VKS can follow the work that is being accomplished through timed events, IoT connections, smart tools, scanners, and advanced APIs.

This makes autonomous smart work instructions an easy solution that boosts your workers’ productivity and mitigates the potential for human error.

Let Us Collect the Data for You

Human error is a real issue that must be minimized as much as possible. Intelligent software that autonomously records key manufacturing data greatly improves your operation’s traceability.

While operators are performing their job and reviewing what they need to do, VKS is working behind the scenes to do the following:

  • Recording and tracking quality specifications
  • Sending and receiving proper values with tools
  • Inventory traceability and usage
  • Tracking completion times to determine take times, cycle times, and lead times.

In today’s fast-paced and complex manufacturing environment, workers need to focus on the task at hand. That’s why VKS captures valuable data for you at every step of a given process.

Operators and engineers do not need to worry about fumbling numbers, entering incorrect data, or performing a wrong action. The autonomous smart work instruction software captures data and makes sure that assemblies are performed within the required specifications.

This enables your operations to be more productive, efficient, and reliable.

How to Interact with Autonomous Smart Work Instructions

To explore the potential of autonomous smart work instructions, we’ll start by exploring intelligent ways to access and use VKS with minimal interaction. From launching the software to completing whole processes, how can an autonomous and smart system be incorporated into your operations?

Launching Smart Work Instructions

When launching VKS, there are many ways to sign in. The standard method is to use a username and password. But these can be easily forgotten and there are more efficient ways of achieving the same result.

We want to keep it simple and easy for your employees while ensuring the proper security.

employee ID badge

  • Employee ID badge with barcode:

We’ll start with my personal favorite, signing in with an ID badge. Scan the barcode on your badge and you are given immediate access into the system under your profile.

What’s great about this option is that it works with your existing infrastructure. If your employees already have badges that grant them access to your facility, why not make them the key to accessing your smart work instruction software as well?

  • SSO (Single Sign-On):

SSO is a quick option for your employees to gain access with one click. This gives you the ability to use one source for your usernames and passwords for VKS and any other programs you are using. Simply put, it is a one-click authentication process.

SSOs can be implemented with cloud solutions such as Google Authentication or active directories such as Windows Active Directory.

The process is very simple as it draws from your existing usernames and passwords. Once employees are recorded in the system, operators click sign in and they are in.

Make Navigation Smarter

Providing a fast and easy way for employees to find and open their work instructions is a game-changer. Searching through a well-organized folder is not a complicated option. But here at VKS, we strive to continually improve our processes and make your life easier and more productive.

  • Work Center Barcodes:

When navigating through the smart work instruction software, barcodes are again a great option. Place labeled barcodes in an easily accessible area of the workstation. Operators can scan the barcodes and VKS will bring them to a specific work center or a specific job.

barcodes

If employees are consistently searching in the same folders for their work orders, having quick access barcodes is an efficient way to reduce interaction and speed up the process.

Barcodes can be made for each of your work categories, such as by customer or by job type. Employees scan the required barcode and VKS automatically brings them to where they need to be.

If you have existing barcodes on travelers, routers, or even part numbers, employees can scan the barcode on the document and VKS will pull up the required guidebook.

Pro Tip: Make updating your inventory easier. When tracking parts or materials through VKS forms, simply scan the barcodes and VKS will record the inventory data for you.

  • Linking to an MES:

If you already have an MES (Manufacturing Execution System) then linking your work instructions to your MES is a powerful option.

With VKS Lite and Pro, simply take the URL link from the required guidebook and put it into your MES. While operators review their work orders, one click will bring them to the desired guidebook.

  • Launch from the Work Orders page:

With VKS Enterprise which acts as an MES, you can preload all your work orders and operations into the Work Orders page. This places all work in one fast and convenient system.

Employees can see their operations for the day and launch the required guidebooks from their daily plan. Now, VKS is tracking the work order number, quality data, and completion times.

Pro Tip: Connect VKS to an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system and VKS will track and record the BOM (bill of materials) and consumed units with your ERP.

Automatically Advance Your Instructions

In the case where workers are not within arm’s reach of their computer, VKS advances the instructions with no direct interaction from the employee.

  • Machine based auto-advance:

Machine based auto-advance

This feature makes use of VKS Connect where equipment, machines, and other software connect and interact with VKS. This feature turns all your systems, smart tools, and equipment into a well-organized team.

Let's take the example of torquing screws on a specific assembly. With ToolConnect IoT and a smart torque wrench, the operator follows the instructions and torques the required bolts in sequence. Once the bolt is torqued to the exact specifications, VKS will advance to the next step or to the next slide in the guidebook.

Pro Tip: The operator does not need to set the required torque or record the data manually. All of this is handled by the autonomous smart work instruction software. VKS will push the required torque value for each specific bolt and then capture the data for quality control.

If for any reason, the operator does not torque a bolt properly, VKS will alert the operator and others to the improper application.

  • Time-based auto-advance:

If working away from tools or any equipment connected to VKS, a great option is to set up a time-based auto-advance.

Let's take the example of work performed in a paint booth. Most electronics cannot survive inside of a paint booth. So your computer will need to be away from where work is being performed. And we want to mitigate going in and out to review instructions.

This is an opportunity to implement a time-based auto-advance solution.

There is a certain pace at which paint needs to be applied. By timing each instruction, paint booth operators do not need to directly interact with the work instructions. Rather, they need to be guided by a well-paced guidebook.

This can be applied to many different manufacturing duties where timing is a determining factor for how a task is performed.

Sharing the Work

smart work instructions

Autonomous smart work instructions are there to share the work on the shop floor. While operators perform their valuable work, VKS is working alongside them providing value, quality, and knowledge.

By having VKS capture data, auto-advance steps, and connect with other systems, the work of each of your employees is significantly increased. And with quick and easy access to the right work instructions, your operators and engineers can get to their work faster and more efficiently.

Depending on your operations, there are many ways to interact with work instruction software. With what we have explored today, look around your facility and see which way would most benefit you.

With contributions from Spero Zervos.

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