6 benefits of digital work instructions

Learn why digital work instructions will increase manufacturing efficiency and productivity for you and your operators

12.17.2021 | Peter Verstraeten

In our private lives, we’re all digital. We check our Facebook feed on our smartphones, while watching the latest Netflix series on a tablet. But enterprise seems to be lagging behind in this digital transition. Why are shop floors still littered with paper, while we keep hearing that digitalization is unstoppable and the reign of paper will soon come to an end? It’s only a matter of time, as electronic work instructions simply offer too many advantages over their paper counterparts. We’ve listed the most impactful for you.

benefits of digital work instructions

1. Up-to-date anytime, anywhere

Arguably the biggest advantage of digital work instructions is that you can update and distribute all your documents with just one click on your desktop. This means that your operators worldwide and across different production facilities will always have the most recent version ready at hand. They will no longer have to deal with three different versions of the same assembly instructions or a specific work process, but will simply have the right version at their disposal at all times. This way, you will already avoid a lot of costly mistakes on the shop floor because of outdated work instructions or checklists.

2. Structured and linked workflows

Most work instructions are part of larger workflows or Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Certain procedures may be initiated by other procedures. Imagine that one of your operators discovers a problem with a machine. He’ll probably have to call a technician or fill in a technician request form. With Proceedix this becomes a thing of the past. Operators are able to launch a workflow for other members of the team or external workers as soon as they receive the request for action.

3. Integrate digital work instructions with your planning (and other software packages)

Most companies still print out the daily plan for every operator and hand them the accompanying work instructions. With workflow software this becomes a thing of the past. By simply opening the app, your team will immediately know what is expected of them. This approach eliminates quite a lot of non-value-added printing and document distribution administration generated by daily, weekly or monthly inspections.

Integration with your ERP, MES or LIMS systems allow you to export and import data or use the execution database directly to automatically generate reports or certifications.

4. Instant, two-way feedback

Paper is unresponsive. If you happen to feel like drawing a picture of Santa Claus on your checklist, paper will let you do it. It will also let you record invalid values without any correcting mechanism. With work instructions software, there are numerous ways to circumvent this problem. If the pressure of a compressor exceeds a threshold value, you could configure your procedure so that your operator is immediately alerted and is required to signal this problem to a superior or fix the problem himself with additional instructions.

By embedding expert knowledge in the step by step instructions, you also create a shared knowledge base, which helps less experienced operators to execute complex business processes first time right.

5. Automatic logging of every procedure executed

Proceedix logs all data on executed procedures, inspections or checklists in a database that is fully accessible for the customer. You can verify the work or a specific task your operators have been doing at any time and intervene if necessary. More importantly, these logs can also be used for audits or for investigating customer complaints. You’ll have access to every inspection detail from production or any end-of-line control. You’ll be able to prove who did what, when and with what kind of instructions. It is possible to attach pictures during the various checks of the product, so that you can show how it left your factory. In other words, compliance is guaranteed.

6. Enrich your visual work instructions with media files

Example of image explaining operator what to do and how.

Every teenager will confirm that plain text is boring (which is probably why they spend so much time on Instagram or Snapchat). Even worse, plain text can be ineffective in transmitting information. In some instances, images or videos are more appropriate as a communication format. You could even primarily use audio files to make sure your operator or technician keeps his eyes on the job. Digital technology has diversified our means of communication and the inherent appeal of images and videos should not be the privilege of teens only. Operators of all ages can benefit.

BONUS: Work instruction software structures your data

Work instruction software structures your manufacturing data in separate blocks. With these separate blocks you can easily create entirely new procedures in just a couple of clicks. Are the same set of steps frequently repeated across numerous procedures? Just drag-and-drop this block of steps to create a brand new procedure in a few minutes. This means you will no longer have to copy paste between Word documents, as you can have a full overview of all your existing procedures within your work instruction software. Read our buyer’s guide for work instruction software to learn what else you should take into account when acquiring one.

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