Top 5 Reasons You Should be Using Digital Work Instructions
Digital, visual work instructions deliver dynamic and up-to-date information to production workers for improved efficiencies and smart manufacturing.
I can’t lie. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been on a manufacturing floor. However, I would hedge my bets that many of them are still littered with paper-based work orders, job instructions, and quality checklists. And quite frankly, I think it’s a shame.
If you don’t want to read on, don’t. But I ask you to picture this— A production employee with a work order in his hand, revised to include the artwork the client just signed off on only hours ago. A video from maintenance walks him through the machine setup and highlights that issue that keeps popping up and what to do about it. With the touch of a finger, images show him whether the part coming off the line is acceptable or not and highlights exactly what to watch out for.
Oh, and those raw materials he’s using? They’re traced to the work order and maybe even backflushing inventory out of the system for accurate inventory control and full end-to-end traceability. And that is just the beginning.
In 2021, the project selection process is a tough one, the pressure is on, and efficiencies must be found. Here’s more on why digital work instructions should be at the top of the list.
- Revision management. It sounds like a small problem, but outdated instructions can lead to big headaches and even bigger costs, often leading to non-conforming or “bad” production. Ensuring your operators have the latest version of the work instructions is essential to reducing scrap rates and increasing efficiencies while avoiding the ambiguity, finger-pointing, and lack of accountability often caused by inaccurate or missing paperwork. It also allows you to archive old versions for quick reference, handy for traceability and quality control.
- Mixed media. Using mixed media such as images, videos, and audio recordings allow you to provide clearer and more thorough information and examples. Machine setup and quality control guidelines are much easier to understand through video rather than simple text on paper.
- Consistent training and improved human resource planning. Verbal training brings significant variability and inconsistency. Lead hands, supervisors, and quality techs often tire of constant training and have a lot on their minds as they try to communicate and ensure understanding of all the details paper-based work instructions cannot impart on their own. Additional materials, such as user guides and manuals, can further support your operators. And importantly, training and certification tracking can be a valuable tool for supervisors or plant managers planning their labor distribution.
- Improved quality control procedures. Digital quality control instructions can mitigate risks and improve production efficiencies by consistently capturing and sharing your organization’s best practices and most crucial information. For example, images of “acceptable” and “not acceptable” parts can be attached to work orders, checklists can be linked to work instructions, and workers can be asked to upload images of final parts as proof of work.
- Traceability. Digital work instructions allow for end-to-end traceability, from raw materials to finished goods, a growing requirement for manufacturing facilities. Traceability allows for quick and full containment of “bad” product upon contamination issues or recalls.
Many moons ago, as the clock was about to strike twelve on the year 2000, I spent my days on the production floor training employees on a new shop floor system. These employees knew the ins and outs of the machines they were there to run—large plastic extruders, complicated web presses, and old rickety converting machines that took a special touch. But they wanted their pen and paper.
Old habits die hard, and when you have a schedule to meet and a million problems to deal with, implementing new systems better be, well, darn well worth the headaches, not to mention a good ROI. Again, if I were a betting woman, I would hedge my bets that digital work instructions are worthy of your attention.
If you’re ready to dive even further into Industry 4.0, smart tools can be connected via the IoT, where an abundance of possibilities and the power of AI await you.
Fluent.ai x BSH: Voice Automating the Assembly Line
Fluent.ai has deployed its voice recognition solutions in one of BSH’s German factories. BSH leads the market in producing connected appliances—its brands include Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau, NEFF, and Thermador, and with this new partnership, the company intends to cut transition time in its assembly lines.
According to BSH, voice automation will yield 75-100% efficiency gains—but it’s the collaboration between the two companies that stands out. ‘After considering 11 companies for this partnership, we chose Fluent.ai because of their key competitive differentiators’, explained Ion Hauer, Venture Partner at BSH Startup Kitchen.
What Sets Fluent.ai Apart?
After seven years of research, the company developed a wide range of artificial intelligence (AI) software products to help original equipment manufacturers (OEM) expand their services. Three key aspects stood out to BSH, which operates across the world and in unique factory environments.
- Robust noise controls. The system can operate even in loud conditions.
- Low latency. The AI understands commands quickly and accurately.
- Multilingual support. BSH can expand the automation to any of its 50+ country operations.
How Voice Automation Works
Instead of pressing buttons, BSH factory workers will now be able to speak into a headset fitted with Fluent.ai’s voice recognition technology. After uttering a WakeWord, workers can use a command to start assembly line movement. As the technology is hands-free, workers benefit from less physical strain, which will both reduce employee fatigue and boost line production.
‘Implementing Fluent’s technology has already improved efficiencies within our factory, with initial implementation of the solution cutting down the transition time from four seconds to one and a half”, said Markus Maier, Project Lead at the BSH factory. ‘In the long run, the production time savings will be invaluable’.
Future Global Adoption
In the coming years, BSH and Fluent.ai will continue to push for artificial intelligence on factory lines, pursuing efficiency, ergonomics, and a healthy work environment. ‘We started with Fluent.ai on one factory assembly line, moved to three, and [are now] considering rolling the technology out worldwide’, said Maier.
Said Probal Lala, Fluent.ai’s CEO: ‘We are thrilled to be working with BSH, a company at the forefront of innovation. Seeing your solution out in the real world is incredibly rewarding, and we look forward to continuing and growing our collaboration’.