Cloud adoption is skyrocketing in manufacturing.
According to a McKinsey survey, 64% of discrete manufacturing companies are actively using the cloud and 60-70% of respondents would consider their company “above average” when it comes to their cloud maturity level.
Industry 4.0 trends support this finding: 86% of manufacturing companies in the U.S. alone believe that smart factories will be their main competitive driver by 2025. The smart factory is a connected factory and the cloud is the key enabler behind this transformation. But cloud adoption is not just about incorporating edge computing, AI, and IoT.
Empowered frontline employees are also critical to building and sustaining a smart factory. Let’s explore 3 specific ways cloud solutions can increase employee productivity and engagement on the shop floor.
Digital work instructions and continuous improvement.
One of the most popular use cases for cloud adoption in smart factories is augmenting workforce efficiency.
About 23% of manufacturers surveyed by Deloitte are operationalizing systems designed to increase efficiency on the shop floor. Digital work instructions and standard operating procedures are fundamental to support this.
The cloud migration of work instructions and SOPs has many benefits. Long gone are the days when employees had to leaf through endless paper manuals or clunky PDF files to find work instructions. Today, they can access them from their phone in a dedicated application that includes descriptive steps and visual cues. Smartphone manufacturers like Samsung have capitalized on this trend, releasing rugged devices that are optimized for use on the shop floor.
At SwipeGuide, we have partnered with Samsung to provide secure access to standard work on mobile devices. Companies using our digital work instruction platform are able to save up to 20% more time when completing manufacturing tasks. They see First-Time-Right improvements of up to 39% and are able to reduce production errors by a whopping 67%.
The beauty of using a cloud-enabled platform is that you are also able to measure frontline performance and collect feedback when employees are doing the work. About 80% of improvement ideas come from the frontline. These ideas can be easily implemented into SOPs when you use platforms like SwipeGuide and Rever, which helps you capture Kaizen events and conduct 5S audits.
[Image: Samsung Canada]
Wearables and remote support.
Support in the smart factory is also ripe for cloud adoption. Wearables like RealWear’s assisted reality devices have long been used in industrial settings to facilitate virtual support. The pandemic further accelerated this trend. During COVID-19, the adoption of remote working and remote collaboration tools accelerated by a factor of 43. Companies had to implement changes within 10.5 days, compared to their 454-day expectation.
While in the past, technicians would fly around the world or across the country to service teams, travel restrictions made this impossible. As a result, companies turned to dedicated remote maintenance and support solutions to conduct complex repairs and inspections during lockdowns. For instance, augmented reality solutions like XMReality can be 30% more effective than standard video calls to address problems on the shop floor.
These cloud-enabled tools will become essential to power smart factories in the future, especially as companies seek to drive efficiencies in maintenance and knowledge transfer.
SwipeGuide used on RealWear Navigator 500 at Lagunitas in Chicago
Skills management and on-the-job training.
Not much has been said about the need for improved skills management in the age of industry 4.0. Yet, as McKinsey explains, “nearly every job will change” and demand for technological skills - both coding and interacting with technology - is expected to rise by more than 50% over the next decade. Companies need to invest significantly in upskilling and reskilling their workforce for smart manufacturing transformations to succeed.
Cloud-based tools that combine standard work with skills management can be very valuable to identify and allocate experts to new roles, workplaces, and projects. For instance, some customers use SwipeGuide together with skills management software to assess frontline workers’ proficiency levels. These performance insights can then be used to develop mentorship, training, and learning programs.
A solid internal communication strategy is also key to facilitating skills management, especially in diverse and multilingual settings. While frontline employees tend to spend up to 3 hours per week looking for information, solutions like Beekeeper can help them find everything they need in one place, often translated into multiple languages.
Ready to empower employees with cloud-based tools?
The smart factory is a connected factory and the cloud is a key enabler to facilitate this. Start empowering employees with cloud-based tools that provide shareable standards and knowledge capture, and help you elevate performance.
Interested in how SwipeGuide can help? Smart factories put operational knowledge at their core.
Contact us to build a smart factory with human-centered work instructions.