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Connected Worker

What Is The Connected Worker?

A Connected Worker enhances their manufacturing skills and capabilities through the direct implementation of digital technologies. More precisely, connected worker technology enables manufacturers to digitally connect and interact with their cyber-physical systems, allowing workers to gather and share critical information while performing their tasks more efficiently.

As the manufacturing industry becomes more pressed for time and resources, efficiency and intelligent practices are a vital focus of any modern business.

The goal is to work smarter, not harder.

Connected workers are one of the leading means of achieving this goal. With cyber-physical systems that increase an operator’s skills, insight, and collaboration, the connected workforce is better able to solve problems, act quickly, and generate valuable data for company growth.

Key Takeaways

  • A Connected Worker enhances their manufacturing skills and capabilities through the direct implementation of digital technologies.

  • Manufacturers implement connected worker technology by collecting their organization's tribal knowledge and digitally sharing it with the complete workforce through platforms like work instruction software.

  • Through a direct connection to their digital technology, connected workers gain greater access to knowledge, more efficient methods, and better production strategies.

  • Common attributes of connected workers are advanced problem-solving skills, continuous improvement, greater process capability, and efficient knowledge-transferring methods.

Why is The Connected Worker Important?

Due to the rise of e-commerce and advancing technology, the global market demands more complex and differentiated products. With manufacturing complexity steadily increasing, profit margins become tighter and tighter.

However, by enhancing the capabilities of their workforce through connected worker technology, manufacturers can uncomplicate their productions and maximize their savings.

One of the main ways manufacturers are implementing connected worker technology is by collecting their organization's tribal knowledge and digitally sharing it with the complete workforce.

Connected workers are confident in their abilities regardless of their experience level because they have a connected worker platform that digitally presents the right working methods in a step-by-step guidebook.

How Does Connected Worker Technology Work?

Connected worker technology, such as work instruction software, achieves high levels of efficiency through two main functions:

  1. Automated actions
  2. Cyber-physical interactions

First, the connected worker platform connects to the worker through automatred processes like collecting data, sending information, entering part numbers, etc. While employees follow their work instructions, the connected worker platform reacts to the events of the production line and the actions of the operator.

connected workers

In the case of data collection, the application can seamlessly communicate with your ERP and BI software via an API. The operator does not need to manually relay data or information. The connected worker platform is taking care of it.

Secondly, our work instruction software connects with the worker through intelligent interactive methods. These include:

  • Smart Tools: Connected smart tools such as smart torque wrenches enable connected workers to capture key data, gain advanced knowledge, and error-proof processes with every work-related interaction. Through the capabilities of ToolConnect IoT, workers are connected to their software without ever having to touch their computer screen.

  • Smart Forms: These forms provide connected workers with a quick and easy way to share additional insight and knowledge with the team and operation. The information captured in smart forms is collected and sent to the appropriate groups.

  • Dynamic Guidance: Based on operator inputs, VKS work instructions, and our rule engine will bring the operator to the next appropriate step in their guidebook or open the required smart forms. This interactivity enables guidebooks to be responsive to the situation at hand.

  • Visual Interaction: Since people assimilate visual knowledge first, visually interacting with your software is a powerful method to connect with the worker. Instead of requiring the worker to scan, read, and sift through instructions, they can see the work in front of them and follow the actions on the screen.

These methods streamline interaction and turn the connected worker and their software into a well-founded team. Both the person and their connected worker technology have specific duties and responsibilities that aid in achieving a strong operation.

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Read More

Discover more about interactive work instructions and how you can seamlessly connect your workers through intelligent and collaborative software.

Who Can be a Connected Worker?

Connected workers can be anyone within an organization as long as they are enhancing their capabilities through the use of digital technologies.

For instance, let’s use work instruction software as an example. The platform connects people to their work and enhances the following positions in the manufacturing environment.

  • Workers connect to their work through their digital work instructions. This connection to step-by-step guidebooks enables workers to perform a wide array of jobs and responsibilities that they could not normally remember on their own.

  • Supervisors and team leads keep track of training and workforce skills with individual profiles of each worker. This level of tracking optimizes strategic workforce planning easily.

  • Managers take employee-generated data and strategically plan production schedules, optimize efficiency, monitor employee output, and reduce expenditures. They also gain the ability to receive feedback in real time from their connected employees.

  • Maintenance workers use work instruction software to gain standardized maintenance practices that allow them to troubleshoot issues they’ve potentially never seen before. With the help of the VKS rule engine, maintenance worker interactions will lead to the next appropriate step in the guidebook.

  • Engineers use VKS to ensure that the process is done correctly every time. By creating work institutions that are geared for the operator, engineers can rest assured that their processes are followed correctly and that the data collected is standardized.

connected worker collaboration

The 3 Major Benefits of The Connected Worker

The connected worker platform is both physical and digital. Physically connecting to your work is nothing short of amazing and efficient. The industry has seen major leaps forward regarding smart tools and industrial wearables. But the limitless power of connected worker technology is its ability to collect, store, transfer, and relay knowledge digitally.

With this incredible capability, there are 3 key benefits that the connected worker brings to the table

1. Continuously Upskill Your Workforce

With access to vast stores of knowledge and a constantly improving standardized process infrastructure, a connected workforce’s skills are always trending upwards. As soon as your company improves a process or adopts a new procedure, your connected worker uses it immediately. This accelerated adaptation to better techniques and skills leads to an operation poised for growth.

The greater the skills of your workers, the greater the output of your operation.

Lightbulb Pro Tip

Pro Tip

Enhance the capabilities of your workforce with digital work instructions that guide workers in an easy step-by-step format. Use pictures, videos, and annotations to achieve process compliance for every one of your processes.

2. Reliable Data that is Available in Real Time

As every one of your processes becomes digitally standardized, your data becomes more reliable and trustworthy. For example, if all of your workers follow the same methods, tracking quality defects and production times becomes a whole lot simpler.

Plus, connected worker platforms gather data from every action taken by a worker on the shop floor, meaning that you gain a real-time picture of your operation, processes, and procedures.

For instance, if you are assembling the base components for a larger product, it is beneficial to track the individual times and progress of each sub-production line. If some production lines are either under or over-efficient, you can adjust factors to ensure that the products are ready just in time (JIT).

This level of insight into worker processes is impossible without connected worker platforms like work instruction software.

3. Increased Teamwork Between People and Departments

The connected worker opens up the doorways to enhanced collaboration between departments and workers. If all workers are connected to a centralized digital hub, then the data they generate can be used by other departments and production silos.

This centralized hub provides a transparent flow of information that users can share with the organization and the supply chain.

Connected workers can also communicate directly with managers and other team members by interacting with their software. Whether there are issues, safety alerts, or production changes, connected workers can collaborate with the whole team intelligently and efficiently.

Lightbulb Pro Tip

Pro Tip

Use the VKS Digital Ecosystem to accurately track production information and share valuable process knowledge across your supply chain. With this connected worker technology, suppliers, distributors, material handlers, warehouses, and more have the information and knowledge they need to get you the materials and components you need.

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