3 Easy Steps to Creating and Using Work Instructions on the Shop Floor

For most manufacturers, “easy” isn’t a word often used to describe the process of creating and sharing work instructions. Mostly, engineers and project planners spend an inordinate amount of time creating and managing a high volume of documents, pictures and other files so they can be used by operators on the shop floor.

Then there’s all the work involved in updating these instructions whenever something changes. Due to disconnected nature of many of these files, this can be a major time drain for authors.

There are ways to solve this which require zero change management and which produce immediate efficiency and KPI gains. In this post, we provide three ways manufactures can make the work instructions process faster and easier for all involved

1. Reuse 3D models to enhance work instruction communication.

Manufactures are relieving the burden on work authors by taking technical data such as 3D models and directly publishing them into work instructions.

Enabling engineers, tech authors, and process planners to click to select and share this data saves hours of time that would be otherwise wasted on creating new visuals from scratch, and keeping those newly created files updated and organized separately from the digital thread.
When you relieve engineers and planners from this burden, they have more time to support production by communicating with the shop floor, which is the next improvement step.

2. Enable real-time, contextual communication from shop floor operators to work instruction authors.

In order to compete in the world of digital business, Gartner recommends that manufactures must:

“Redesign end-to-end processes that overcome the boundaries between organizational silos and allow business users to collaborate across departments.” - Gartner, Successful Manufacturing Digitalization Requires Application Modernization and Integration, Christian Hestermann, 17 November 2022

Work instructions processes are commonly rife with barriers to communication. 

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What’s more, barriers between authors and consumers create misunderstanding and delay that can quickly translate into production errors, quality issues, scrap, and avoidable costs.

This is solved by giving work instruction authors and operators the means to ask questions, get answers and share feedback alongside the work instructions themselves.

This is distinct from relying on disconnected communication channels like email or even chat, where conversations have to reference and explain the work instructions in question using ‘clunky’ workarounds like screenshots, attachments and links—all of which adds delay and leaves too much room for misunderstanding.

3. Deliver manufacturing intelligence with integrated visual work instructions

Integrated visual work instructions reduce the manufacturer’s reliance on each author’s individual ability to create text descriptions as a kind of ‘curriculum’ for operators to follow—a very hard skill to master. Anark’s recipe based publishing ensures consistency between sets of instructions no matter who the author is, driving standards and repeatability for easiest interpretation.

More often than not, time-pressed authors make their best attempts to be clear in text-heavy instructions, but then have to make updates and corrections as questions spring up downstream.

In contrast, by publishing 3D and other technical visual manufacturing data directly in the work instructions, operators “see what authors see” and perform better. Anark clients find that work instructions that feature 3D visual communication as a core attribute of the process increase operator comprehension and reduce error. (See real-world client examples of this in our latest eBook.)

What these three steps have in common is that they provide manufacturers with an iterative approach to digital manufacturing — a strategy that isn’t talked about often but is covered for you in detail in our latest eBook, The Direct Path Principle: How to Sidestep Complexity in Electronic Work Instructions for Immediate KPI Gains.