Get More Efficiency with Less Errors using Digital Work Instructions
For most manufacturing facilities, work instructions, job packets or travelers are the way information is distributed across the floor. Information about the build process, BOMs, checklists and routing steps are stuffed into plastic envelopes and distributed to certain points on the shop floor. This process does not have to be the only way to get information to the floor.
With the MV2 Manufacturing Execution System (MES), all this information can be distributed digitally to work centers and departments. There are a number of benefits to transitioning job travelers to digital processes. We’ve outlined some of the larger aspects that not only make managing production operations easier but reduces errors and increases production throughput.
Easily keep instructions up to date
The good thing about using paperwork is it becomes a tangible item that has the ability to hang around longer on the floor. The bad part about printing instructions out is that paper tends to hang around the shopfloor longer than it should – creating a number of potential issues. Orders could change but paper instructions may not, or products may need to be made differently but the floor is using instructions a few document revisions back. These are just a few examples of what could happen.
With job instructions distributed and managed centrally through an MES like MV2, many issues with paper-based systems can be avoided. When engineering changes are needed in the work instruction or different components are now specified in the build, these can be adjusted in the MES system. Then the updated work files will be automatically updated across the entire floor. The system does this immediately. Operators will not have to decide which instructions are more current, wait for new paperwork to be delivered or work from incorrect versions because they haven’t been told. The entire floor is always up to date with the master files.
Load correct instructions per job
In high mix, low volume discrete manufacturing operations, many products only have subtle changes between versions. Sometimes these differences could be as little as different torque settings or slightly narrower shims. Other assemblies may use components that look the same on the outside but operate differently like electronic or hydraulic components. In all these cases, it can be easy for an operator to work from incorrect instructions or BOMs without noticing the difference. Sometimes Quality Control can catch these non-spec parts but other times these incorrect builds escape into customer’s hands or just end up producing more scrap pieces.
With a manufacturing execution system like MV2, work instructions can be tied to work center job scheduling. When a production operation changes to a new product, the work instructions can change immediately to the correct packet for the processes needed. This replaces the reliance on supervisors to physically change over every aspect of the process, as well as it reduces the potential for usage of incorrect instructions left in the work area. With digital delivery of work orders, a manager will know that there’s no errant instructions on the floor that could cause quality issues. Instructions and BOMs will be correct for the processes and parts needed when everything is changed over at the same time.
Provide multiple formats of information to operators
Many manufacturers find themselves building parts that need multi-step operations in some work cells or steps that contain non-obvious steps that make things tricky. They also know that it my be difficult to explain these actions with only words or even a few pictures.
With MV2, transitioning to digital work instructions allows the manager or engineer to add greater clarity to these processes. By including color images, animations and CAD files that can be easily manipulated or even videos created to demonstrate the process. All these types of information and more can be provided at the operator’s station and be available with just a few clicks.
Teach new jobs easier
Bringing new employees or cross-trained ones up to speed quickly is key to getting the most out of the employee. Having the right information at their fingertips is instrumental in making that instruction process fast. Digital work packets can provide this availability. New employees can see assembly steps or process videos whenever they need to and the right instructions for whatever stage in the production process they find themselves, all without having to wait for help from other workers.
These digital instructions also cut down on ‘tribal knowledge’ issues many manufacturers experience. Putting all that experience in these work instructions helps make it available to new employees who find themselves a shift away from their trainers or for the occasion when highly skilled workers move on to other opportunities.
Keep workers from straying from approved processes
Digital work instructions contribute to minimizing of the potential for the development of non-sanctioned processes or shortcuts in the process. This helps prevent quality issues where these shortcuts may miss out on important steps or cause issues later in the process. The digital job packs become the easy-to-reference standard. They can even be integrated into the process with hardware gates that require the worker to perform the operation exactly to plan or the workpiece cannot increment forward.
In general, moving shop floor information to digital files and distribution offers many advantages over routing this information on paper. Here, we’ve touched on only a few of the areas where a digital-first strategy could not only save scrap and rework costs, digital work instructions and BOMs could help contribute to trackable increases in production efficiencies and throughput.
If your firm is exploring the benefits of removing paper-based processes from the shop floor, contact us today. We have decades of experience helping firms see these benefits utilizing our manufacturing execution systems like MV2 and other ISE | PaperLess products and services.