One of the most effective ways to increase shop floor productivity is to close communication gaps between workers, enabling them to collaborate in real-time. With the ongoing labor shortage impacting manufacturing, taking a more focused approach to improving productivity is also key to retaining top talent. The majority of manufacturers (83%) are struggling to attract and retain their workforces, according to a recent Deloitte and Manufacturing Institute study. Therefore, pursuing a connected worker strategy needs to be a high priority as it’s also proving effective for retaining workers.
Why Connected Worker Strategies Deliver Results
The more connected workers are across shop floors, plants, and factories, the faster a manufacturer can react to new opportunities. Improving communication and collaboration makes information sharing faster and more fluid. One of the most visible areas where these strategies are paying off is reducing order rework, improving yield rates, and meeting more order delivery dates.
Productivity gains happen when every production team member has greater visibility and control over the daily manufacturing operations they are responsible for. Follow-on benefits include allowing employees to see how their contributions make a difference while providing more opportunities to empower them.
Where To Get Started
Real-time data delivers insights to identify the areas where the most significant potential productivity gains can be achieved. It’s also essential for achieving a 360-degree view of the shop floor and providing real-time feedback to workers on how production runs and manufacturing operations are doing. Manufacturers often start their strategies in the following areas:
- Real-time data improves shop floor visibility, contributing to greater collaboration and productivity gains. The more real-time contextual data workers access across the shop floor, the more opportunities they have to find new ways to improve current process performance. For example, real-time production monitoring helps workers follow jobs in real-time as they move from production scheduling through production to fulfillment. In addition, providing this data via remote access helps workers stay connected and coordinate with their teammates if they work in different plants or on another shop floor.
- Enabling remote access to manufacturing systems saves time, delivering productivity gains. Remote access to production systems, including ERP, MES, QMS, and CRM systems, helps scheduling, supply chain, quality management, and senior management teams to get the data they need on a 24/7 basis. For example, Global Interconnect, a global supplier of custom cables, connectors, and electro-mechanical assemblies for leading medical device and high-end industrial companies globally, relies on remote access to their DELMIAWorks ERP system allowing employees in off-site and remote locations to handle purchasing raw materials, outsourcing items and setting up bills of materials.
- Intuitively designed touchscreen interfaces for manufacturing systems on the shop floor save time, reduce errors, and fast-track onboarding new employees. Touchscreen-based interfaces for shop floor control, scheduling, and other MES applications reduce data entry errors. They’re also proving effective in training new workers on shop floor applications, helping bring them up to speed quickly.
- Automating production scheduling on a common platform increases productivity by providing every worker with real-time status on orders. Core to a connected worker strategy delivering results is providing advance notice of how production schedule trade-offs impact daily build plans. Manufacturers keep their teams informed in real-time regarding daily production plans by automating production schedules to factor in forecasted demand while defining optimal schedules based on constraints. For example, Mar-Bal Incorporated, a leading manufacturer of thermoset composite products, relies on automated production scheduling and remote access to provide visibility of orders, inventory, production schedules, and operations data for personnel working at home in branch locations globally.
Achieving more significant productivity gains in manufacturing often comes down to identifying the widest gaps in production performance and closing them. Eliminating communication and collaboration gaps between workers across shop floors are a great place to start.