The Evolution of Work Instructions from Digital Transformation Developments with Industry 4.0

December 10, 2019 in Industry 4.0



The Evolution of Work Instructions from Digital Transformation Developments with Industry 4.0

The concept of work instructions is not a modern-day invention. Human civilization was built off of collective work instruction behaviors that allowed monumental buildings and structures to stand the test of time. The way work instructions are communicated, however, has continued to evolve as modern-day operations scale beyond our ancestor’s wildest dreams. 

The concept of Industry 4.0 is heavily characterized by process-driven technologies, such as automation and connected worker platforms. A well-thought-out process is a series of steps that you’re able to follow to a task’s completion. In order for an organization to develop a predictable and efficient operation, these instructions should be comprehensively crafted to leave limited room for judgment or creativity from the operators. 

Following a process can and should mean that work is done more efficiently. Whether your organization is drafting its first set of work instructions or re-evaluating long-standing procedures, it is important to always view them as a work-in-progress. Companies that successfully measure, iterate and improve on these instructions as part of their internal culture tend to be the ones that last over time. 

steps to success

In order to eradicate confusion between the definitions of procedures and standard work instructions. The term procedure is most often used at the management level to express an idea about how things should be done at a high level. While procedures paint a broad portrait, standardized work instructions are mandatory processes in which little to no room for judgment or personal interpretation is allowed.

Key takeaways:

  • Industry 4.0 processes save time.
  • Standardized work instructions lead to greater efficiency and productivity.
  • Procedures and work instructions should be viewed as equally important.

Industry 4.0 processes save time.

For most companies today, maintaining product quality standards, adherence to government compliance policies (OSHA, etc), and accountability tracking usually means relying on clipboards, checklists and filing cabinets stuffed to the brim with paper which is hard to do within a reasonable time frame. 

It’s no surprise that Industry 4.0 is beginning to look for a digital solution that transforms inputs and results in increased efficiency, accountability and productivity. MaintainX is the solution.

The Digital Transformation of Industry 4.0

The world around us has been transformed by technology more so in the past 50 years than in the past 500. In order for companies to stay relevant, it is critical to develop or implement solutions to optimize production and efficiency, not just maintain it, and reduce human error. 

The first step an organization can take towards optimization is to digitize its processes, including:

  • Maintenance
  • Production
  • Accountability

Digitizing processes for an organization allows for a central repository of information, such as Standardized Work Instructions. Additional analysis of collected data can be done to implement new techniques to ultimately achieve:

  • Greater productivity
  • Reduced costs
  • Continuous quality improvement
  • Optimum efficiency

Most likely, your company has invested in at least a few digital solutions. Perhaps your technological investments are beginning to feel disjointed and maybe that’s why you’re reading this blog post right now.

In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, a company can get a leg up on the competition by using things like connected sensors, increased storage capacities, long-range networks, and even a CMMS. However, despite access to these tools, many organizations are left feeling more disconnected from their front-line teams than before. Investing in a connected worker platform like MaintainX will help your company elevate your team alongside your other solutions to unlock previously unattainable and unscalable results.

The Birth of Digital Work Instructions

At one point in time, it was considered revolutionary to have a set of instructions scanned into a PDF document and emailed to the team. However, 80% of the world’s global workforce doesn’t sit behind a desk, so why would it make sense to focus on a desktop-first solution? PDFs are also difficult to edit and collaborate on, even from a Desktop. MaintainX is collaborative, mobile-first, and easy-to-use.

Today, with the implementation of Industry 4.0 work instructions, workers have the advantage of app-based platforms and programs to create step by step instructions for specific tasks. The line between consumer and industry applications has blurred and given rise to a new generation of solutions called Connected Worker Platforms.

Six Sigma Components

Connected Worker Platforms have key features, such as the ability to: 

  • Collect and analyze data
  • Measure output across locations & teams
  • Trigger and time stamp work
  • Test and iterate procedures across your organization
  • Communicate and collaborate in real-time
  • Validate jobs and headcount

What Does This Mean For Your Company 

In the era of digital Standardized Work Instructions, a company can operate with the assurance that all processes are available, consistent, and repeatable when using a digital solution such as MaintainX.

When work instructions contain the optimal steps needed to perform a process, improvements are recognized in a variety of areas, including:

  • Consistency of your product
  • Quality of your product
  • Safety of your operators
  • Throughput of your process

The coupling of Digital Transformation and Industry 4.0 is improving the workplace, whether on the factory floor or out in the field. With the complexity of production today, organizations are turning to new digital solutions to keep pace with today’s swift-moving, and changing environments to meet the demands of customers. 

Why should your company care? 

The cost is your company getting left behind and becoming one of those dreaded “dinosaurs”. By investing in reducing production costs, companies are more likely to pass those savings onto their customers.

Why? The cost to you is getting left behind. Organizations that have moved beyond Industry 3.0 are more efficient. Reducing production costs means they are in a better position to pass on savings to their customers. To meet the demands of their customers.

Key Takeaways:

  • Connected Worker Platforms is the future for assigning, managing and tracking work for deskless workers.
  • Digital work instructions have evolved from simply scanning forms in a PDF format to having them readily available to workers on a mobile app.
  • Using Standardized Work Instructions means organizations can ensure all processes are timely, consistent, and repeatable.

Let’s consider some of the advantages of moving to digital Standardized Work Instructions.

Benefits of Digital Standardized Work Instructions

Moving your company’s processes and Standardized Work Instructions to one digital platform can lead to a variety of benefits. 

› Centralization

Have you created a Microsoft Word document for each procedure, exported it to a PDF and then circulated it to your staff via email with the hope that they are able to open it, print it and follow the instructions? No wonder this way of doing work is considered too cumbersome and outdated for Industry 4.0. 

To be competitive in today’s world, all work instructions can be created and maintained with Workflow Management software, such as MaintainX. This means all your instructions, yes, even those pesky PDFs, can be centralized in one place, in one app, available virtually anywhere you bring your phone. Additionally, these can be iterated, improved and put into action across your organization instantly – an undertaking that would have previously required months to prepare.

This can and will save you and your workers time digging through hard drives, old files, and filing bins, which ultimately saves you money. Centralizing Standardized Work Instructions and procedures also ensures that your workers are in receipt of instructions. 

And another benefit? It makes collaboration much easier.

› Process Control

How does your company ensure compliance with workflows and instructions? Without a standardized approach and constant supervision guaranteeing that every step of a process is perfectly followed, this is challenging – if not impossible. That’s especially true if your company still relies on archaic clipboards and paper checklists to keep the lights on. 

Welcome to Industry 4.0. In this new wave of technology, you can upload Standardized Work Instructions and make them available on a digital platform to all of your employees. You can create a series of checklists for procedures to enforce compliance by all your workers, which will also leave behind an audit trail of those employees who didn’t complete all the required tasks. This will make your company’s overall ISO compliance easier. 

› Structured and Linked Workflows

Chances are your work instructions don’t exist in a vacuum but are part of larger or connected procedures and workflows. 

Having your work instructions in an environment where they are linked means your workers have the ability to launch other necessary workflows should the need arise.

› Messaging

Messaging within your company’s digital platform is extremely important. Instead of requiring your employees to manually input all of their coworkers’ phone numbers, having a messaging system built-in to their Connected Worker Platform keeps the conversation in one place and allows for an audit trail.

Invest in the New Standard: Industry 4.0 Digital Work Instructions

By now, you should have no doubt that your company should move all workflows, standardized Work Instructions, procedures, and employee messaging onto a digital platform in order to stay competitive in today’s world.

Investing in software that will cut down on the time-consuming, cumbersome ways of the past will allow your workers to spend more time being productive (and compliant) instead of trying to track down old paper checklists stuffed in filing cabinets. 

Bring it all together in one place, under one app: MaintainX

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