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Empower Process Improvement with Better Work Instructions


Learn how to democratize knowledge on the shop floor. Better content organization and the right digital tools will give you the edge in Industry 4.0.

22 October 2019

How we organize the way we work on the shop floor matters just as much as the work itself.

Why not set yourself up for success?

The challenges in adopting a digital platform at scale shouldn’t stem from the platform. In fact, a well-designed product like SwipeGuide typically only takes a few hours to master.

Rather, the trick lies in implementing an effective content organization structure that facilitates process improvement and uses the knowledge already present within your organization.

Make sure you have the tools you need to stay competitive in Industry 4.0. Digital work instructions will allow you to revolutionize your content organization by tapping into the power of your shop floor experts.

We'll cover the following in this blog post:

  • The benefits of an optimized content organization system.
  • How to structure this system.
  • A real-world example.
  • The impact of digital work instructions on process improvement.

What does content organization do for you?

An ideal system of content organization fosters collaboration and democratizes knowledge on the shop floor.

Your teams rely on standard operating procedures (SOPs) and work instructions as the most basic element of knowledge in a production line. This content needs to be organized and captured according to a structure that empowers continuous improvement.

Here’s what we've seen work.

This recommendation is based on successful content organization and process improvement in a beverage manufacturing environment where work is based in factories with multiple production lines.

Let’s start with the most basic element - production lines on the shop floor - and work upwards to the global value chain.


Production lines.

swipeguide processes

Operators on the production line create work instructions under the guidance of a Team Leader and a set of predetermined specifications. They use their experience with best practices, practical fixes, and critical warnings to generate a comprehensive knowledge base.

  • Roles - Operators and one Team Leader per line.
  • Time - Practical feedback on procedures can be delivered by operators before, during, and after the operation of machines or performing any irregular task. 
    • Note - Content creation occurs after a User Group uses the instruction analytics or factory data to identify gaps and areas for improvement.
  • Flow - Tribal knowledge is captured at this stage and continuous improvement strategies are implemented here. Learnings and improvements move up and out into the company using the Team Leader as a representative.
  • Distribution - Instructions and SOPs are captured via a user-focused digital interface and pushed out locally or into the global value chain.


Team Leaders.

shop floor optimization

One person is designated per production line as a delegate to a group of Team Leaders per factory. This serves to form a functional User Group of qualified experts who can represent the content needs for the lines (and thus the individual team members) on the shop floor.

Example: Beer Company USA has 12 lines in a factory in Detroit. Therefore, 12 individuals (1 from each line) are designated as Team Leaders.

These 12 individuals can then meet as a User Group to discuss the SOPs produced and captured per line and coordinate them with a holistic, data-driven view of production.

  • Roles - One Team Leader representing the content created for a production line on the shop floor.

  • Time - A-sync from line operations, but on a regular schedule to ensure content needs are met and creation is encouraged.

  • Flow - Needs, feedback, and concerns are brought from the shop floor to a group of experts that can consider content needs and issues within the perspective of the entire factory.

    • Note - This input can be implemented at the local level, or passed along to the global value chain. Gaps and problem areas within production can be identified, analyzed, and corrected at the content creation level.

  • Distribution - Edits, improvements, and feedback can be distributed instantly with the push of a button - either locally or globally.


Global User Group.

global content

One individual (or small team) represents the content needs of the individual factory to the organization as a whole. For enterprise companies, it’s essential to optimize content and standards from the comprehensive perspective of a global value chain.

  • Roles - A qualified individual (or small team) can present the content-specific needs, feedback, and recommendations to the global network of factories.
  • Time - A-sync from factory operations, but on a regular schedule to ensure content needs are met and analyzed from a global perspective.
  • Flow - Processes, improvements, and performance data can be shared and compared within the context of the entire value chain. Success at a specific site can be analyzed, and standards adapted and implemented into a global network.
  • Distribution - Features like SwipeGuide’s Multi-site Connectivity simplify and accelerate the process of sharing SOPs and work instructions throughout the global value chain. Push the button. Done.


The Virtual Community.

It’s essential to include shop floor experts at each level of content organization. The advantage of a digital instruction platform is the ability to have comprehensive content analytics and support in a digital environment, independent of physical location.

  • Through a Virtual Support Community, employees at any level can voice opinions, provide feedback, and offer support in the knowledge capturing process.
  • A globally connected platform allows collaboration, regardless of physical location.
  • Expert Support - A good instruction platform should offer expert services throughout all stages of the content organization process. For example, the SwipeGuide Platform offers insights, training, and authoring support from specialists trained in instructional design.

Okay, but how does this work in the real world?

This framework is a comprehensive example of an ideal content organization structure in a line based manufacturing environment - but what does it look like in the real world?

Check out the example below to see how this system can actually play out on the shop floor.



Plan. Do. Check. Act.

The Plan Do Check Act system is a real-world example that describes the localized Roles, Time, Flow, and Distribution related to content in a production line at a beverage factory.


A User Group at a factory will analyze line performance and use this data to set priorities for content creation. The SOPs and work instructions will be developed to optimize performance and successfully carry out the established processes and procedures.

Taking the above goals into consideration, the Operators and Team Leaders work together create to create the SOPs and work instructions for the production line - based upon existing material and the tribal knowledge of the operators.

Organic content creation and capturing tribal knowledge are essential for process improvement. But F&B manufacturing requires stringent quality controls. As such, all content produced in the ACT step is carefully checked for quality and accuracy by an additional team of subject matter experts.

With the new batch of crowdsourced SOPs checked for quality, it’s time to roll them out to the shop floor. Operators access the correct instruction in the moment of need via a QR code, NFD, or a link embedded in a work order.

This step is made possible and efficient by the digital work instruction platform.
From here, feedback and improvements are captured by Operators and Team leaders on the production line- and are considered when creating the next set of SOPs.

This sustainable way of working can be repeated, and instructions improved with knowledge straight from the shop floor.


Take it global.
A digital work instruction platform makes the above process efficient, democratic, and agile. But the benefits don’t stop there. Features such as SwipeGuide’s MultiSite Connectivity create the opportunity for a company to incorporate the power of democratized knowledge throughout a global value chain. The standards that inspire success at a factory in Belgium can be shared with a factory in Singapore - all with the push of a button.

Your bottom line matters.

Your teams on the shop floor matter. Your digital work instructions matter. But let’s be frank - without an effective system of content organization to combine these elements, you’ll fall short of your competition on process improvement. Let's prevent that from happening.

Make sure to read our extensive guide on how to create excellent digital work instructions here.

Picture of Chris

Chris loves to share his expertise on future-proof work instruction software for frontline teams in manufacturing. Particularly, how digital, visual work instructions can make a lasting impact on motivation, productivity, and operational excellence culture.

22 October 2019