The Impact of Digital Work Instructions and Checklists

Posted by Andonix on Aug 21, 2019 8:19:14 AM

Process improvements have accelerated in the last decade, driven by the implementation of advanced, highly configurable software. Industry 4.0 initiatives are making it possible to empower the frontline like never before, and few tools are more impactful than digital work checklists and work instructions.

digital work checklists

With most plants still reliant on paper checklists and work instructions, Excel spreadsheets, and Google Docs, digital work checklists represent a massive leap forward. And when properly implemented, the benefits can be leveraged in just a few days. Let’s take a closer look at six specific areas in which digital checklists and work instructions can have a direct impact and what it looks like for the organizations that take action. 

Improvements to Content Creation 

A digital platform makes content creation faster and easier than most existing solutions such as Excel, PowerPoint, or Word. You can create new content on your mobile devices, making it possible to prepare updates anywhere at any time. 

Our own studies comparing paper checklists to Smart Work Station digital work checklists showed a significant reduction in the time it takes to create new content. If you save only 15 minutes per workstation and you create four per day, that’s an entire hour per day saved. In large organizations, this can represent thousands of units saved with a digital solution.  

That’s only the start of the savings. In adhering to a quality system, companies routinely struggle to keep the right revision levels of documents at the right location. Filing paper documents, pulling them during an audit, or providing resources to someone with an urgent need can be time consuming in ways that a digital solution is not. 

Significant Streamlining of Deployment

Approvals and deployments can take days to implement with traditional tools. A digital solution vastly improves the process of submitting, reviewing, and implementing changes, saving thousands of hours in the process. 

When work instructions are deployed faster, companies save time, save money, and scale faster. The result is:

  • Better safety – Better trained employees with up to date digital work instructions are more likely to follow safety guidelines and adapt to new measures. 
  • Better quality – 31% of surveyed companies spend more than $500,000 per year as a cost of poor quality. Much of this comes down to process. 
  • Better productivity – Supervisors regularly cite operator error, lack of training and inadequate processes as directly impacting their quality and productivity. 
  • Better cost management – More organized, better prepared workers are not only more efficient, but they become more predictable and costs are easier to manage. 

Compression of Lengthy Training Times

Medium sized companies spend thousands of hours every year training new employees. High rotation rates mean there are almost always new employees on the line in need of support. If only a third of that training time is compressed with digital work instructions, thousands of hours can be reclaimed. 

A more streamlined, personalized training process does many things for your employees. Improved engagement allows you to fully leverage the value of your training materials – a significant annual investment for your organization. 

Capturing and Preparing Accurate Reports

Traditional processes make capturing and preparing reports a time consuming, potentially inaccurate process. Digital solutions automatically capture data and provide several built-in solutions for dashboards and reporting. 

Data has surpassed oil as the most valuable commodity in the world, and the technology being used to leverage it is only becoming more sophisticated. Machine learning and AI will unlock prediction of outcomes, prescription of best practices, and prevention of costly mistakes. Even the largest companies often fall into the cycle of making the same mistakes perpetually, failing to learn from the lessons offered. By capturing data and preparing accurate, flexible reports, it’s possible to learn more and react more quickly to changing conditions. 

Reduction of Paper Use for Bottom Line and Environmental Impact

Paper is a tremendous expense costing tens of thousands of dollars per year in most organizations, not to mention the environmental impact. 

The automotive industry alone experiences more than $22B per year in quality costs due to recalls, with an average of over $1 million per incident when a defect is detected. The cost of safety, training, and assets can easily exceed this without the right solution. Despite this, 87% of companies are not filing electronically, and nearly 80% use Microsoft products for their work instructions. 

By going digital, you can greatly reduce many of the factors that lead to these costs, improve your carbon footprint and generate greater ROI from your front line. 

Faster Access to Large Stores of Data 

In many large companies, standard purchasing terms and conditions require that suppliers keep records for several years, often more than ten. In a paper-based system, this is exceptionally difficult. Managing compliance and making this data accessible when it is needed is a significant pain point in many companies. 

Subsequently, organizing your work instructions and creating a single repository for all data saves hundreds of hours per year. Employees no longer need to search for previous content, and valuable resources aren’t lost sitting in binders that are rarely opened. When someone has a question, needs a report, or needs to reconcile data over time, a digital database offers a more streamlined, accurate solution. 

Digital work checklists can transform how you front line and quality teams operate. Learn more about the process of implementing the technology for your company in our eBook, A Guide to Faster, More Effective Worker Platform Integration:

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Topics: Digital Work Checklists