Transforming an operation with digital processes is the next logical step for many manufacturers looking to grow and expand. However, some businesses can become concerned about the scope of the transformation and the investment. This is especially true for those that have never invested in any digital processes before.
In some cases, concerns surrounding the workforce, the amount of personnel, and their digital skills will prevent businesses from taking the digital transformation leap.
It is a good idea to ask these questions. Digitally transforming your operation can seem like a major undertaking and it's good to get all the information you need to feel confident about your digital transformation.
So let’s answer each question one by one.
Question 1: Do I need additional personnel to integrate digital processes into my operation?
To get straight to the point, the answer to this question is no. Digital processes do not require more workers to maintain the software.
If your digital processes are causing more work or the need for more employees, there’s a high likelihood that something is terribly wrong.
Instead, your digital processes should be working for you, enabling you to get the most out of your current workforce.
Work Instruction Software: Same Workforce, Greater Capacity
In the case of work instruction software, every procedure is transformed into a digital process that workers can follow. Through pictures, annotations, videos, and interactive smart forms, workers always have access to the skills and know-how they need.
To implement this software, teams easily create a series of guidebooks that outline the best-standardized practices of the company.
Companies like KONE, a world-class manufacturer of elevators, escalators, and autowalks, use VKS digital work instructions to increase productivity by up to 75%.
“With VKS, we have a clear set of 20 processes for our heavy-duty unit. This cut down our production time for that particular unit by approximately 75%.”
Adrian Riojas, KONE Coal Valley Manufacturing Engineer
Similarly, Republic Manufacturing, a leading manufacturer of industrial blowers and vacuum pumps created a series of inspection guidebooks that enabled them to decrease inspection times to a quarter of the time it used to take.
“When I saw VKS, I thought: ‘That’s it!’ I can easily use this software, take pictures, and then highlight important things that we have to make sure we’re inspecting while also recording data as we go along.”
Lee Punnett, Republic Manufacturing VP of Quality
These two case studies prove how the right digital processes and tools can greatly optimize the capacity of your operation without the need for more labor.
Now, for argument's sake, even if we ignore the 75% increase in productivity and the incredible decrease in inspection times, you could say that creating work instructions takes time. But this is highly dependent on the tools you are using.
If you’ve ever written work instructions using Microsoft Word or Excel, the process can be painstakingly long. Plus properly tracking and updating all files is a whole different monster. Word and Excel are not designed for use on a manufacturing floor, resulting in many manufacturers feeling overspent when using these tools.
However, a purpose-built system can mean the difference between needing additional workers and properly optimizing the capabilities of your current workforce.
Pro Tip: With our work instruction software, users have reported a 65% faster work instruction creation time.
Who will write the work instructions and maintain the digital processes?
The answer is entirely up to you. However, one key method is to get multiple people involved in the process. That way, you won’t put all your eggs in one basket. If a guidebook author is on vacation, others can fill in to prevent a gap from forming.
Luckily, learning how to create work instruction guidebooks is just as easy as following the instructions, so training your team and sharing the work is an incredibly effective way to optimize the actions and efforts of your workers.
For this reason, companies like Watchfire Signs are expanding their use of VKS to other departments outside of manufacturing.
“We’re seeing other departments picking up on how easy it is to create visual instructions. VKS started as a manufacturing process documentation tool and is transitioning to other places in the company.”
Justin Hart, Watchfire Signs Project Admin Engineer
Also, establishing standardized best practices is best done as a group where you gather input from all of your key players on the shop floor. Try involving your shop floor workers in creating your work instructions. No one knows the process better than the people who create value every day. This method ensures you create the best step-by-step work instructions that reflect the real work performed on the shop floor.
Pro Tip: Did you know you can instantly translate your guidebooks into 27+ languages? If you have facilities in other parts of the world that perform the same work, you can effectively create instructions for two or more operations at once.
Digital Processes are Easy to Update and Continuously Improve
In the past, maintaining and improving printed work instructions would be a full-time job. If a process needed to be updated, you’d have to track down every sheet to ensure the latest process was available.
Plus you’d have to make sure all workers are aware of the new process since they probably weren’t looking at the paper instructions anyways.
This pain point is all too common in the industry and it is a key reason why Schnieder Electric Dinel chose to implement VKS into their facility.
“Our process before VKS used paper instructions with a lot of text, some drawings, and no photos. Before we got VKS we did get some of our instructions updated with photos but for the most part, we were using very outdated instructions. Now with VKS, we are able to update our instructions continuously.”
Sakaiza Rabefarinotrona, Schneider Electric Dinel Methods Engineer
Work instruction software makes it easy for your digital processes to continuously evolve as your company grows and expands. With our mass update feature, instruction authors don’t need to chase down sheets or retrieve multiple copies of the same file. They simply need to access the instructions and update them.
Since VKS is a cloud-based system, every applicable instruction on every computer is updated at the same time. Plus, you can program an alert to notify operators that there’s been a change in the process, ensuring everyone is on the same page when beginning the guidebook.
This unique feature significantly reduces the amount of work that goes into maintaining, updating, and continuously improving your digital process documentation.
Question 2: Is an IT Department Necessary to Integrate Digital Processes?
For digital processes to be completely effective, your software needs to be accessible to everyone, meaning you should not need an IT department or additional people for it to be properly integrated. Since the vast majority of the workforce is not proficient in any coding languages, your digital processes need to be located and managed in a visual and no-code environment.
Remember, the goal of digital work instruction is to optimize and expand the capabilities of your current workforce. Your shop floor workers need to use the program quickly while management and executives need to easily gather data and extract knowledge.
In the case of our work instruction platform, the system is built to allow users to easily and visually capture data in real-time and store information for future reference and analytics. There is no need to employ IT professionals simply to run or integrate the software. Every person regardless of age or skill level is able to operate the system.
Question 3: How Long Does It Take to Train Personnel to Use the Software?
While learning digital processes is a good thing, you may be concerned that the learning curve will take valuable time away from production.
In reality, learning how to use digital processes like work instruction software takes no time at all. One quality inspector had this to say when asked a similar question about VKS.
Training Use Case: Learn Double the Skills in Half the Time
Chesterton, a world-class provider of sealing solutions and mechanical pumps, was able to cut their training time in half (from 2 months to 1 month) by using VKS.
Let’s break this down.
Despite workers now needing to learn 2 separate skills, Chesterton is actually able to train employees in less time than if they were to focus on the regular skills alone.
This case study shows that even though there is a minimal amount of effort to learn the software, by training their employees with VKS, Chesterton was able to drastically improve their training curriculum. This optimized training system enables them to get their new hires to produce value sooner than ever before.
“VKS is being used in our core business which is mechanical seal assembly. Seal assembly is a relatively complex process and some of our seals require around 65 steps. Each step needs to be done in a particular way and in a particular sequence. With VKS, we’ve been able to cut our training time in half. We went from a two-month training program to a one-month program. This has been a huge asset for our training and will continue to be a huge asset as we move forward.”
George Englis, Chesterton Manager of Operational Training
Question 4: Is There Support for the Use of Digital Processes?
This is an incredibly important question when looking at transforming your operation with digital processes. While any digital system aims to optimize the capabilities of your current workforce, support services are crucial to ensuring you are always pushing the maximum capabilities of your system.
Even if the digital processes are incredible, if you don’t have the right support options, you could be missing out on squeezing out the most potential growth.
At VKS, we make sure you have all the support and guidance you need to effectively accomplish your goals. From the moment you book a demo, our dedicated team is always available to answer your questions and provide the support you need.
Training & Guidance: We offer expert-level training at any time. If you have questions about how to use the software or if you are curious if our work instruction platform can perform a needed task, our team is excited to show you how the system can be used to meet your specific needs.
Establish Objectives: During the initial phase of using the software, we’ll sit down and discuss the goals and objectives you want to achieve. Then, our team analyses your current work process to make an effective implementation plan with you.
Guidebook Creation & Consultation: If you need a head start to create your own set of digital work instructions, we are here to help. We’ll consult on the best ways to build your guidebooks and walk you through any process you need.
Transfer of files to VKS: If you were using a different digital process for your work instructions, we can take the old instructions and convert them to your new VKS environment, making transferring between tools virtually effortless.
Integrating with other software: With VKS Enterprise, let us help you integrate your work instructions with other business platforms like ERPs, BI software, and more to further expand the capabilities of your tools and workforce.
Need Help Transforming Your Operation with Digital Processes?
Book a demo with one of our industry experts and we’ll be happy to walk you through the ways you can optimize and expand the capabilities of your current workforce.