The Shopfloor Blog

5 Reasons Operators Love Smart Work Instructions

Posted by Saul Lustgarten on Feb 15, 2018 10:41:39 AM
Saul Lustgarten
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Nautique Upholsterer is a happy Tulip user

The primary reason work instructions go unused is because they don’t add enough value to operators. Instead, they slow them down and don’t help them do their jobs better. This affects both paper and digital work instructions alike. However, as we’ve said before, not all digital work instructions are created equal. Smart work instructions connect with your devices, have logic and collect valuable data from your people and machines. So how do smart work instructions help operators? Read on.

Helps them be more productive

Smart work instructions help operators increase their throughput by guiding them through processes so they can complete them faster. Unlike regular work instructions, smart work instructions flow with operators, so they are not slowed down going between instructions and assembly. Additionally, smart work instructions allow managers to identify outperformers and propagate their tribal knowledge to the rest of the team, turning every operator into the best operator.

Empowers them to do their job better

Smart work instructions software helps operators prevent and reduce their error rate in several ways. First, it provides timely information such as videos, pictures and CAD files that is useful for the step in the work they are doing. Second, it connects to their tools and provides real-time feedback on the job they are completing. Third, they provide quality checkpoints through the process that use sensors to detect mistakes. Finally, smart work instructions have logic embedded into them that can walk operator through rework routines and fix errors before the final widgets are shipped. Gino, an operator at a Fortune 100 company that uses Tulip for their smart digital work instructions, said it best - “Tulip makes it impossible to make mistakes”.

Motivates and engages them

Smart work instructions can motivate and engage operators in several ways. We’ve seen some customers randomizing their work instructions to make operators more alert. We’ve seen others “gamifying” the instructions to make them more fun and entertaining. Furthermore, by collecting performance data, smart work instructions can show operators how they fare next to their colleagues hour by hour. We’ve seen this inject a healthy dose of competition to the shop floor that increases their productivity. Kerry, the operator on the picture above, put it nicely. She said, “Since we’ve had Tulip, I challenge myself; and the guy standing behind me, we challenge each other.” 

Enables data-driven performance reviews

Without Smart Work Instructions, performance reviews are subjective because they lack data. Without Smart Work Instructions, operator data is sporadically collected by a supervisor. But this doesn’t give managers a full picture of the operator’s performance. Since Smart work instructions collect performance data on a continuous basis, they enable managers to provide real-time targeted feedback to operators and immediately see the impact. It also lets managers and operators have data-driven conversations about performance, which increases the operator’s willingness to improve. A Tulip customer, who is the manager of a large boat manufacturer in Orlando, said it best - “It’s been very beneficial for me to do reviews this time, because I can show people what they’re actually doing”.

Involves them in Continuous Improvement

The idea behind Kaizen (continuous improvement) is that all employees are actively engaged in the regular, incremental development of the company. This involved every employee, from upper management to operators. The issue is that operators often lack the channels to voice their feedback. Smart Work Instructions address this situation by providing a direct channel where operators can give suggestions on a process. This empowers them to improve processes and have a measurable impact on the entire operation. 


Tags: Digital Work Instructions, Manufacturing Apps

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