As manufacturing companies strive for increased productivity and efficiency, their frontline workers are becoming challenged by the need to learn new technologies, equipment, and work processes. The constant pressure to adapt to new ways of working is further complicated by the fact that experienced workers are retiring and attracting new workers is difficult.
With nearly one-quarter of the sector’s workforce now being over the age of 55, according to a study published by The Manufacturing Institute, it’s no wonder that 78 percent of manufacturing companies are somewhat or very concerned about the future.
To overcome the challenges created by today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving business landscape, many manufacturing companies are making investments in connecting their frontline workforce with digital technologies.
Unfortunately, the solutions being offered are not well suited to the problems they’re trying to address, including the nature of the workflows their frontline executes. Many software providers believe that simply providing connectivity and messaging solutions can solve their issues, but that’s not the case at all, which is why such efforts don’t move beyond the pilot phase in 65 percent of cases.
Understanding the Objectives of Frontline Digitalization
Before embarking on a digitalization project for their frontline workforce, manufacturing companies need to think about how to enable their workers with the equipment, information, and processes to achieve the best results possible.
By clearly defining the goals and objectives of the frontline digitalization project, companies can ensure that they are investing in the right technologies and solutions to meet the needs of their workers and their overall business.
A study by PWC describes three approaches to connecting workers that manufacturers frequently take:
- Location-based: Typically used for access controls and safety applications. Connecting the workforce by tracking location can be done through mobile device GPS tracking, but it’s more commonly done with wearable devices. One example of how real-time location tracking can quickly identify personnel who may be out of compliance with safety rules is in a warehouse or distribution center. If the facility has established safety protocols that require workers to, for example, wear protective gear in certain areas, real-time location tracking can be used to monitor the location and movement of workers in the facility. If a worker is detected in an area where protective gear is required, but they are not wearing the required items, the system can alert the worker or even a supervisor in real time.
- Information-based: This application of connectivity leverages mobile devices to provide the workforce with easier access to information such as corporate web pages, manuals, or equipment readings. For example, many first-generation connected worker apps are used for training purposes, displaying static work instructions in the form of PDF files on portable digital devices like smartphones and tablets. While more convenient and easier to update than paper-based instructions, static work instructions leave a lot to be desired because they are not personalized and delivered at the right time, can’t collect data about workers, and don’t take advantage of device-specific features, such as push notifications and photo/video recording capabilities.
- Interaction-based: This approach of workplace connectivity extends static information to dynamic information displayed based on each worker’s situation and environment to provide tailored support when and where it’s needed the most. Dynamic information can be used to guide workers in real time as they execute assigned tasks by displaying contextual step-by-step instructions or recommendations based on their actions, sensor data, and other circumstantial information. By providing workers with this type of dynamic, context-specific information, it becomes possible to support their decision-making and problem-solving in a more efficient and effective manner than with static information alone.
Each of the three above-described approaches to manufacturing connectivity has its place on the shop floor, but interaction-based connectivity provides the most effective answer for the challenges facing modern workers as manufacturers rapidly digitalize their processes and take advantage of increasingly sophisticated equipment.
The good news is that unlocking the benefits provided by interaction-based connectivity is now easier than ever before thanks to ROO.AI, a cutting-edge solution created to support modern manufacturing workers with information and instruction where, how, and when they need it.
Connecting Workers With ROO.AI
ROO.AI is pioneering a modern interaction-focused approach called Frontline Digital Automation, empowering frontline workers with the next generation in digital assistance.
In recent years, office workers have been utilizing AI and bots to automate processes they previously had to perform manually when interacting with computers. For example, customer service representatives might use a call management application and an issue reporting application, which required them to manually copy data between the two. But thanks to AI and bots, customer calls can now trigger automated processes that pull up all necessary customer information in the relevant applications and automatically enter the data where needed, streamlining the process and saving time.
ROO.AI is now bringing that same advanced technology to the frontline worker in the form of smart digital assistance. Frontline Digital Automation interacts with the worker to guide and assist them through a work process, facilitate the collection of data, and automate steps or data processing wherever possible. Guidance can be personalized based on worker experience, data from equipment or other sources, such as the weather forecast. For example, a field service process could be modified based on the current weather in a specific location.
Then ROO.AI takes the technology a step further. Unlike their colleagues in the office that work with a keyboard all day, frontline workers often find text and form-based interfaces cumbersome and poorly suited to their work processes. ROO.AI’s innovative, fully visual user interface is as familiar and intuitive as it is flexible and powerful, making it capable of meeting the needs of any manufacturing company. Manufacturers that take advantage of ROO.AI frontline digital automation technology can rapidly achieve the interaction-based workplace connectivity that is so necessary to ease the pressure put on frontline workers by digitalization.
Thanks to innovative digital technologies, manufacturing companies are becoming more productive and efficient. However, the same technologies are making the role of the frontline worker more challenging. Workplace connectivity can be implemented to empower workers to thrive on the modern shop floor, but only when it effectively supports the nature of the workflows executed by frontline workers by paving the way for frontline digital automation with solutions like ROO.AI.