How can we increase production efficiency and quality with digital work instructions?

According to various studies, the human factor causes 35-45% of downtime and 70-80% of accidents in production. Therefore, it is one of the main causes of quality deviations and increased production costs. An effective solution to reduce the impact of the human factor on production processes is the use of digital work instructions.

What is the human factor?

The human factor is any impact on production resulting from the abilities, skills, knowledge, personality, behavior, and physical and mental state of employees.

Even in modern manufacturing operating according to Industry 4.0 principles, operators are still at the heart of the operation, ensuring that production processes run smoothly. This means that the strong influence of the human factor remains. Therefore, it is essential to reduce it to the greatest possible extent by introducing new technologies, enabling operators to work more efficiently for increased productivity, quality and safety of production.

What is the importance of digital work instructions?

Work instructions are usually paper documents that provide step-by-step guidance to users. Such documents are static, difficult and time-consuming to update, and prone to error and damage.

Therefore, an important part of the digitization of production is the integration of work instructions into production processes. Such instructions include not only text but also images, photos, videos and augmented reality elements that guide operators and other workers in operating the processes and machines for which they are responsible.

The key objective of digital work instructions is to increase production efficiency, which is achieved through the following improvements:

Real-time updates. Unlike paper documents, software for digital instructions allows real-time updating. This means that any changes are immediately reflected in the instructions, ensuring that employees always have access to the most up-to-date and accurate information.

Better accessibility. Employees can access instructions on a variety of devices such as tablets, smartphones and augmented reality glasses, making instructions available to them whenever and wherever they need them.

Fewer mistakes. Clear and interactive instructions reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings and errors, helping to reduce unforeseen production downtime and improve productivity, quality and safety.

Faster training. Digital work instructions simplify training, making it easier and faster for newcomers to grasp production processes and devices and become independent and productive at work. Digital records also make it easier for training coordinators and trainers.

Interactivity. Multimedia elements such as photos, videos and augmented reality help employees to visualize complex processes and devices and follow step-by-step instructions more accurately.

The use of digital production instructions also contributes to reducing paper consumption and environmental impact.

Digital work instructions and manufacturing execution systems (MES)

The greatest benefit to production comes from integrating digital work instructions with a manufacturing execution system (MES), which usually includes software tools to create and manage them.

The integrated system enables more detailed analysis and the opportunity to take additional measures to improve the efficiency of production processes:

Increase productivity. MES systems collect large amounts of production data that can also be used to monitor the performance of workers using digital instructions. By analyzing such data, it is easier to identify bottlenecks affecting productivity and improve the quality of instructions.

Quality control. This is a critical aspect of production, where digital work instructions can be designed to include quality checks and inspections at various stages of the production process.

Better traceability. MES solutions include traceability functions that allow manufacturers to trace the origin and history of every component used in a product. When combined with digital work instructions, traceability becomes more comprehensive, ensuring that all production steps are properly documented.

Digital work instructions and AI

Work instructions for complex manufacturing processes and machines can range up to hundreds of pages. Therefore, their review can be time-consuming, which can cause delays in elimination of non-conformities and increase of costs. Fortunately, the progress in the field of artificial intelligence enabled creation of copiloting tools, which significantly shorten the search for solution(s) – they allow operators, service technicians, maintainers, and other personnel to easily search for specific content in extensive documents, pose specific questions on how to solve various problems and obtain the answers.

The integration of digital work instructions into production processes in conjunction with MES is therefore a major leap forward for production efficiency, quality and safety.

Today, this is no longer just an option, but a requirement for manufacturers who want to succeed in competitive markets. The future of manufacturing is digital, and manufacturers who adapt, innovate and embrace digital work instructions will have an advantage over competitors who rely on paper documents and manual data.

How can Metronik help you?

At Metronik, we are developing and deploying our own manufacturing execution system, MePIS MES, which includes tools for creating digital work instructions and provides all the benefits described above.

If you are interested in finding out how this can contribute to increasing the efficiency and quality of production in your company, the contact person for more information is Vanja Tomažič, who can be reached at