The Connected Worker Platform: Key Benefits for Manufacturers
Nowadays, not only machines are connected, but so are people – the connected worker.
Communicating with friends and family from different regions of the globe via social networks, ordering delivery via smartphones, monitoring the status of services via mobile devices and using apps for almost everything are already part of the routine of a large part of the population. However, until recently, this was not the case within an operations context.
Today, we are in the middle of the 4th Industrial Revolution (or Industry 4.0), and the need to digitize companies to remain competitive – especially during the coronavirus pandemic – reinforced the assertion that the future is digital and that the so-called “Factory of the Future” is already a reality.
The new scenario, in turn, contextualizes the need for companies to invest in a connected worker platform.
Importance of the connected worker
Impacting everything from supply chain systems to warehouse management, the coronavirus pandemic has revealed how global outages can quickly and easily disrupt aspects of manufacturing.
Gradually, face-to-face work had to give way to the remote system, making paper-based operations and processes increasingly difficult to maintain.
In parallel to the pandemic context, Industry 4.0 gained more and more space and, driven by the coronavirus pandemic, the need to unite new technologies with human labor became fundamental for the continuity and success of operations.
In this context, the need for companies to invest in connected workers has become even more critical, especially on the factory floor.
For example, many operators have ideas for improving their activities on the shop floor, but end up not communicating them to management. Over time, these ideas get lost.
On the other hand, workers connected to a digital platform are able to easily and remotely register their ideas in the system, which leads to better performance of activities, in addition to empowering the entire front line and facilitating the sharing of information between shifts or between different plants worldwide.
These workers leverage a variety of digital tools and data management techniques to improve and integrate their interactions with the physical and virtual environment, improving decision-making accuracy, reducing manufacturing waste and lowering the risk of failure.
Why invest now in a connected worker platform?
Studies reveal that among companies that did not have digital tools before the coronavirus pandemic, 56% admitted that they had limited capacity to respond to the crisis. As for companies that were already investing in digital technologies before the pandemic, 94% noted that these systems were what allowed them to continue operations during the crisis.
In addition, a US study revealed that 85% of adults own a smartphone. Within a manufacturing context, this means that, within seconds, 85% of frontline employees can access any relevant information.
From the data presented above, it is evident that investing in digital technologies, such as a connected worker platform, is essential for manufacturers to optimize their operations and remain competitive, especially within a scenario where digital is increasingly present and it is already part of the routine of a large part of the population.
Benefits of the connected worker platform
Integrated and responsive system
In addition to software and hardware based on Industry 4.0 technologies, a connected worker platform is able to connect different technologies. This generates an integrated and responsive system that contextualizes the actions of manufacturing workers within a larger system in real time.
This means that workers are connected to instrumented and responsive systems that actively exchange data with other devices and machines in operations.
The connected worker platform lets workers have access to the same information, thus minimizing the chances of errors. These platforms increase work safety conditions and facilitate decision-making processes at every level.
The integrated and responsive system of connected work platforms allows them to perform tasks regardless of where colleagues and managers are physically located.
This benefit becomes even more relevant within the coronavirus pandemic scenario.
For example, before the coronavirus pandemic, operators would log their shifts and talk to other operators about various plant activities to move from shift to shift. However, with the social isolation imposed to contain the crisis, many manufacturers avoid unnecessary contact between workers.
The right digital tools offer greater mobility, reducing the amount of physical contact between personnel on the shop floor. In addition, these tools enable you to enable operators to work more autonomously and allow supervisors to remotely manage maintenance tasks and other assigned work.
Paperless technology – good for the environment and less prone to human error
Currently, around 62% of manufacturers use pen and paper to track key manufacturing processes.
Although more than half of employees still use paper, believing it to be a universal medium, there’s no denying that paperless technology is the future – especially with a large number of companies embracing remote work.
By 2022, more than 40% of manufacturers will invest in wearable technologies to abolish pen and paper processes in their supply chain, according to international research.
It is also worth noting that most connected worker platforms are user-friendly and mobile first, overcoming all the traditional pitfalls of paper-based systems, such as wasted time looking for information and updating data, greater chances of human errors and loss of information.
Furthermore, paperless technologies are more sustainable and environmentally friendly since they produce less waste.
Quick access to information
Studies reveal that employees spend about 20% of their time looking for and collecting information in paper-based systems. This means that valuable time is being wasted on the shop floor.
Thanks to modern technologies present in the connected worker platform, all information is stored in the cloud, in a single database.
In this way, employees are able to collect and search data in an agile and simplified way, concentrating their time on more complex tasks.
Digitization of knowledge
Operators are at the center of the shop floor. They are the ones who – better than anyone else – know what’s going on when it comes to their equipment, what types of data, information and processes can lead to improvements in efficiency, speed or productivity.
However, this knowledge is rarely tapped or shared, even in shifts, either because a plant is using paper-based systems or because an operation is suffering from the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, it becomes more difficult to maintain production processes if an operator retires or is ill, for example.
The technologies present in the connected worker platform overcome these challenges, enabling operators to make data-based decisions, improve system-level processes and easily share their knowledge with each other.
So connected workers have instant access to an extensive, interactive knowledge base consisting of the latest standard operating procedures (SOP), safety guidelines, root cause analysis (RCA), results and other knowledge items such as videos – all from a smart device and always up to date.
This knowledge base is also helpful when onboarding new employees, since they will have access to organized and updated sources of information.
Smart technologies present in connected worker platforms allow operators to extract information in real time.
In addition to guiding the actions of workers, this information also allows both employees and the manager to have an up-to-date overview of the status of activities on the shop floor.
More accurate decision making
The real-time data obtained through information performance reports allow decision-making to be carried out with greater precision, considerably reducing the chances of human error and damage to manufacturing.
Connected technologies allow all workers in the system to have access to the same information and be notified in case of updates.
With these real-time updates, all shop floor operators perform their activities based on the same data standard, avoiding production failures, wasted parts and misunderstandings within the company.
Greater product quality
Data standardization directly impacts on product quality.
Following a production line based on standard and accurate data considerably reduces the number of part rejects. However, it may happen that an employee skips a production step, compromising the quality of the final product and costing manufacturing time and raw materials.
To avoid this problem, the connected worker platforms have digital task management modules where supervisors can schedule and assign planned checks, or cleaning, inspection and lubrication (CIL) tasks to operators registered in the system, for example. If a production does not follow the expected quality standard, all operators are automatically notified.
These platforms also support connected workers in carrying out their tasks through digital forms, which provide operators with step-by-step instructions (OPL- One Point Lesson) accompanied by images or videos.
Engaged and motivated employees
Motivating and engaging employees is essential not only for them to understand how their role is fundamental to manufacturing, but also for them to work with greater effort.
Satisfied and happy employees in their workplaces produce up to 50% more, according to studies.
Thus, the gamification technology present within connected work platforms is an excellent way to motivate and engage employees.
The solution is to intelligently use game-like concepts to improve employee engagement and achieve business goals.
These are achieved through individual or team “missions”, “challenges” and “achievements”, carefully mapped and selected as they are aligned with the team’s business processes and objectives. Often, each completed step can be exchanged for rewards or benefits.
By making daily activities more fun and competitive, the engagement of agents and employees is greatly increased, improving satisfaction with the work environment and results.
Enabling employees to be able to use the connected worker platform allows them to work in a more autonomous, motivated and productive way.
In addition, rapid access to information and paperless technology significantly shorten the short breaks in time to collect data and update the system, making employees use this time to dedicate themselves to fulfilling their tasks during office hours.
With the help of a connected worker platform, connected operators can use their phones to take pictures of a broken machine or a puddle of oil on the ground, for example. From there, they can enter these photos, along with some details, into a deviation management module that alerts supervisors, allowing them to quickly see, track and resolve the issue.
Greater Quality, Safety and OEE
Another benefit that the connected worker platform offers is greater safety in the work environment.
Connected worker platforms often provide all safety information about manufacturing machines within the knowledge base, providing workers with updates on how to perform their tasks with minimal risk.
They also include interactive safety assessments and checklists, and if something is out of place, the operator can simply flag the problem directly into the system.
In addition, these tools contain a safety panel that shows required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), ID lockout levels, and other safety requirements. This advantage alone can unlock considerable operational benefits, considering that more than 80% of production losses are caused by human error.
Increase in overall equipment effectiveness (OEE)
OEE is an invaluable production metric and represents how well a manufacturing process is used compared to its maximum potential.
This metric combines three factors: availability, quality and performance.
By enabling connected workers to do their jobs independently, employee performance tends to be higher and factory equipment is at less risk of breakdown.
In addition, with knowledge management enabled, the connected work platform allows employees to access useful knowledge items on the shop floor and resolve faults faster, without compromising production quality and preventing machines from restarting, something which can shorten its lifespan.
How can Solvace’s Connected Worker Platform help your company achieve Operational Excellence?
Solvace’s connected worker platform has the broadest coverage in the market to digitize Operational Excellence (OpExc) activities, leading to greater efficiency and effectiveness for the entire industry.
Born on the factory floor, Solvace’s platform is built on modular logic “all in one”, with a single highly efficient and secure database capable of sharing information quickly and easily between front lines and different factories.
The company makes it clear to its customers that despite technological advances and the need for companies to invest in digital to remain competitive, workers are a critical factor for the success of the strategies in Industry 4.0.
In this context, Solvace’s worker platform is designed to combine industry 4.0 technologies with human labor, empowering employees and optimizing their operations.
The solution connects all manufacturing employees and sites, generating operational insights and empowering workers at all levels.
For example, the complete set of tools present in the Solvace platform allows to empower employees intuitively and remotely. Reports based on real-time data allow managers to make better .
Solvace is a company specializing in the development of high performance solutions for manufacturers who believe that Operational Excellence and Digitization are key enablers to improve business results.
For this, we have a team of professionals with extensive expertise on the factory floor, revolutionary software with cutting-edge technologies and the collaboration of leading consultants in OpExc.
Solvace believes that all manufacturing employees should be able to use their platforms as part of a Performance Management system.
Thus, our main objective is to empower front-line workers with tools that make their work easier and, at the same time, that connect factories of different organizations in a management system that promotes performance and knowledge management.
In the market for six years, partners and customers from different regions of the globe trust Solvace solutions to achieve operational excellence within the digital environment. There are already more than 50 satisfied customers, distributed in more than 75 countries.
Customers range from large global manufacturing companies to local players operating in different sectors such as Services, Consumer Goods, Food & Beverage, Packaging, Process Industry, Automotive, Aerospace, Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals.
At Solvace, each application is developed and customized to meet the needs of each client. Therefore, we work “hand in hand” to find the best solutions and deliver excellent results for our customers.
Contact us and request a free trial.