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By: Ben Baldwin
December 15, 2020
What are the reasons you should use digital work Instructions? Digitizing your work instructions is the key to modern manufacturing in Industry 4.0. With the ability to standardize processes and collect pertinent data, digital work instructions provide the tools necessary to achieve your smart manufacturing goals.
Manufacturing companies face many challenges today. The industry is both fast-paced and competitive. If manufacturers fail to embrace modern technology and practices, they are liable to hit a developmental wall. This can result in an over-reliance on tribal knowledge and a lack of standardization. This leads to high turnover costs, expensive quality control, and a reduction in productivity.
By digitizing your work instructions, your company can take a big step forward into Industry 4.0.
Work instructions software offers a wide range of ever-growing benefits. Let’s start with 10 proven reasons you should use digital work instructions for your company processes.
There is a reason this is number 1 on our list. Digital work instructions are a proven productivity builder. With a user-friendly interface, employees quickly understand and complete their tasks.
Interactive work instructions are authored by your most experienced workers. This enables your employees to access years of experience with the click of a button.
Imagine distributing the knowledge of your best workers among the entire workforce. All your employees become your best employees.
For example, using digital work instructions, Aurora North America was able to significantly increase their productivity.
With a clear view of their build time and quantity expectations, operators are motivated to excel and drive their own production output. This made the facility see a 20% increase in the build-time productivity on the shop floor since implementing VKS work instructions. - Aurora North America’s Best-in-Class Quality Standards Now Maximized
If using instructions that are complex or dense, operators risk taking longer to understand the processes. This slows down production and causes errors. Misinterpretations negatively affect your product quality and lead to potential re-work.
Implementing comprehensive process instructions is a game-changer when it comes to production speed. By using visual work instructions, operators can now focus on their work and less on interpreting their instructions.
Not only do digital work instructions speed up production time and efficiency, but they also save time for the people who write them.
While it used to take five hours or more to create work instructions before, Nidec has since run studies and determined that with work instruction software, it now takes just two hours to complete — a 60% reduction in time! - Capturing Tribal Knowledge for Nidec
Using digital work instructions that are easy to write and follow saves you a lot of time. This time can then be repurposed to spend on other projects and add more revenue to your business.
Another key reason you should use digital work instructions is that they are so easy to use. Unlike paper, which can get dirty, illegible, and degrade over time, digital work instructions are easy to read and update.
Our work instruction software is built by manufacturers for manufacturers. It is continuously tested in real-world environments. We know the pains operators encounter on the shop floor. We know the complications that arise if work instructions prove difficult to create or follow.
Digital work instructions are a fast and easy solution as they enable employees to quickly comprehend and execute complex tasks.
Manufacturing companies need to adapt to new workforce challenges. As baby boomers retire from manufacturing jobs, the industry is finding itself in a growing manufacturing skills gap.
A 2018 study conducted by Deloitte found that the skills gap may leave a potential of 2.4 million positions unfilled between 2018 and 2028. Due to qualified worker scarcity, manufacturers are having to rely on summer students, interns, and inexperienced employees. It's more important than ever to document and distribute the right process knowledge to the entire team.
With digital work instructions, key information is distributed among all qualified personnel. When your most experienced operator retires or goes on vacation, you don’t have to worry if the job will be done properly. Their knowledge is stored and standardized within your digital work instructions.
Digitizing your manufacturing instructions also makes sharing and updating your best practices easy. Mass-updating your processes and procedures is accomplished with the click of a button. This way, your employees always have the right knowledge at the right time.
By using digital work instructions, your employees have quick access to your current best procedures. This goes a long way in eliminating defects and increasing product quality.
As we discussed in The Zero-Defect Production Concept of Industry 4.0, digital work instructions provide companies with real-time performance data. The software collects quality data with each step in your given process. If the step is not accomplished within the parameters, then the software informs the operator and prevents them from moving to the next step.
The purpose of work instructions is to ensure product consistency and quality. But the software goes further to record data from each assembly. This helps workers meet assembly requirements and document data for customer assurance.
Real-time quality monitoring leaves very little room for errors or defects in your production line. This ultimately builds your customers’ confidence in your product.
Using electronic work instructions, you can track KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), SPC (Statistical Process Controls), and more through real-time data capturing. Everything you need to know about your operation is then available to you.
Who did a certain job at a certain time? Who wrote the instructions? How much material did we use?
All this data and more is automatically logged into the platform as it is being used. It is always at your fingertips. Reliable data is a source of strength for your company and a source of trust for your customers. See this case study from ETE Reman:
In regards to information, we now have access to more data than we’ve ever had before. Being able to identify inefficiencies and errors, and then using that data to improve the quality of our transmissions and the confidence in our employees leads to benefits we know we’ll be able to measure over time and use of the product. - Improved Quality for ETE REMAN
Going digital with your work instructions also means that you can instantly translate each step and process. Our own work instruction software, for example, allows text to be translated into 25+ languages.
The ability to create one set of instructions for two or more facilities in different parts of the world is nothing short of amazing. We have seen this feature help companies share knowledge on an international scale in minutes.
With the ability to quickly translate work instructions with one click, companies can close the gap between their distant facilities and share knowledge in a faster and more meaningful way.
Companies that require high levels of security use digital work instructions to gain peace of mind. Whether you install work instruction software to your on-premise infrastructure or you use our highly secured cloud, your data belongs to you and only you.
See this case study from Crystal Group as they manufacture for the U.S. Department of Defense.
Their customers –which include the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), autonomous vehicles OEMs, utilities, and oil, and gas companies– rely on them to ensure their products meet or exceed AS9100D, IEEE, IEC, and military standards, cybersecurity protections, and individual program requirements. Using VKS Enterprise work instruction software, Crystal Group now reliably captures program requirements and updates to industry regulations. - Reinforced Quality, Consistency & Training for Crystal Group
With work instruction software, operators seamlessly connect to their smart tools. This integrates the worker for fast, accurate, and efficient production. Connecting workers with their tools is a powerhouse for modern manufacturers.
As explored in How You Can Use IoT Hardware to Improve Quality Control, VKS and ToolConnect IoT connect with smart tools to record and relay pertinent assembly data. This data is recorded in real-time to ensure that the product is assembled within the required parameters.
ToolConnect IoT also pushes the required settings into your smart tools. Meaning that the proper tool settings are automatically set for each task and assembly in your work instructions.
Connected tools also send a signal to the work instruction software each time an action is performed. The actions are tracked and the software advances to the next step in the instructions automatically.
With digital work instructions, the connected tools, databases, and the operator collaborate as a team. This is accomplished through an intuitive interface and advanced API (application programming interface).
Another key reason you should use digital work instructions is for flexibility as you grow. VKS is a smart manufacturing solution that is scalable to your evolving business. Our work instruction software is used by large and small manufacturing companies in a variety of industries. We have proven expertise that will match your company’s current and future needs.
With our advanced API, our software communicates with your other manufacturing databases, such as your ERP and MES. This provides data tracking and performance evaluations across all your manufacturing operations.
Our expertise is with you as your company grows to add more tools, hardware, databases, and users. Our work instruction software will scale to adapt and accommodate your growing business.
For modern manufacturers looking to break into Industry 4.0, there are a growing number of reasons to use digital work instructions. From advanced audits and digital checklists to smart forms and safety measures… the benefits are endless.
This new era of Industry 4.0 has many challenges. But there are incredible opportunities as well. Implementing smart manufacturing practices equips users for tomorrow’s manufacturing. By sharing key process knowledge and capturing real-time data, your business is set-up to succeed and achieve Industry 4.0 standards.
Read Next: What is IoT, IIoT & Industry 4.0?
With contributions from Mihaela Bumbu.
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