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Digital Logistics Gains Momentum

Transportation and logistics providers continue to face challenges with labor and skills shortages and managing costs. A recent study published by McKinsey that surveyed 250 logistics leaders in transportation and warehousing found that the companies were not only turning to digital technologies to address these challenges but were increasing investments in advanced logistics solutions to address digitalization beyond traditional transportation management and warehouse management solutions.

“Together, the survey findings suggest that if a company isn’t reimagining the way it works in conjunction with technology—all while building newer breakthrough capabilities—achieving the expected ROI from technology commitments may become harder than ever.”

McKinsey

Advanced digitalization initiatives for logistics operations span the gamut from robotics and fully automated picking, drones and delivery vehicles, to digital twins, to real-time tracking and route optimizations. And as broad as the digital initiatives are, so are the differences in their readiness for actual wide-scale adoption across the industry. Many of these technologies are in the early stages of development, but there are some important new digital solutions currently available that can transform critical logistics operations in areas such as fleet management and warehouse and distribution center operations.

Reimagining frontline operations looms large in the possibilities for transportation and logistics providers. The survey highlights the top concerns for the companies as Labor Management, Productivity and Cost Management. All critical challenges that are directly affected by the frontline workforce skills gaps and labor shortages. Fortunately for logistics providers, frontline digital technologies are readily available, easy to adopt and very cost-effective. Solutions like ROO.AI can deliver swift time to impact with little investment in time or resources from the logistics provider.

Apply Digital to Top Logistics Concerns

In an industry that is still highly dependent on a frontline workforce, digital tools can make a tremendous impact in the key areas highlighted in the McKinsey survey. Labor Management challenges due to shortages and skills gaps can be improved by providing workers with digital tools for easier access to orientation, training and safety guidelines to accelerate onboarding. In addition, 60% of workers from an eduMe survey reported that they were unhappy with the technologies they used at work, and one-third of frontline workers in a Microsoft study felt they did not have the right digital tools to do their jobs effectively. Digital frontline tools can not only improve onboarding but can also help attract and retain skilled workers.

Increasing productivity on the frontline is often dependent on upskilling workers and ensuring that they can move quickly through standardized fleet and warehouse operation processes. Frontline digital solutions like ROO.AI improve efficiency by replacing paper for instruction and data collection. ROO.AI customers see reductions in process times by up to 70% due to the visual guidance and automation of data collection.

Aside from improving productivity, which is a direct input to managing costs, digitalizing frontline operations with ROO.AI drives greater accountability for quality, which can reduce rework and mistakes that cause delays and add to overall costs. In addition, ROO.AI customers leverage their digital frontline platforms for risk mitigation, capturing digital proof for all shipments and logistics activities, providing easily accessible audit trails to address any customer claims.

As the McKinsey study points out, digital logistics is being overwhelmingly endorsed across the industry. However, it is equally important that companies combine that momentum with reimagining their operations. Across the board, frontline workers play a critical role in logistics operations, and the digitalization of the processes they drive is one of the areas where easily available, readily implementable digital solutions exist today.

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How Digitalizing Frontline Data Boosts Oil Field Service Profitability

Like most industries, oil field service companies have invested in digitalizing the back-office and leveraging the data to drive better visibility and decision making. In the field and on the frontline, digitalization is just starting. Paper is the most common system for ticketing, equipment maintenance, field inspections and safety checks which leaves that data trapped in paper silos. Companies are collecting their frontline data; they just can’t effectively use it. To add to these challenges, a recent Microsoft survey of the Energy industry showed that nearly a third of frontline workers feel that they do not have the digital tools they need to do their jobs effectively.

Using Digital Data to Improve Field Operations

With the attrition of experienced workers and labor shortages, digitalizing frontline operations offers a real advantage. In addition to guiding workers and offering on the spot training, digitalizing the frontline can also deliver data to improve operational efficiency. Usage data from digital workflows can provide visibility into the execution of frontline activities. OFS companies can track missed inspections, maintenance and safety checks to ensure compliance. Data from operations can also be used to compare performance across teams and to measure turn-around times for asset maintenance, creating opportunities for training and improvement.

Boosting Cost Recovery with Digital Data

A common challenge for OFS companies is recovering the costs of excessive wear on assets that occur on the job. Digitalizing asset inspection and repair operations can provide the basis for cost recovery programs using the data to more accurately assess cost of usage and also deliver evidence to customers for the recovery of wear and damage charges. This data becomes particularly effective when utilizing modern digital frontline capabilities for images and video records.

Reducing The Costs of Inventory Management

Eliminating frontline paper silos and connecting workers delivers a stream of data that can greatly improve inventory management and reduce costs. Digitalizing the frontline provides a more accurate and timely view into the actual usage trends for equipment and replacement parts, enabling asset managers to more effectively purchase and allocate parts inventory needed to match operational demands. In addition, connecting frontline maintenance teams with inventory levels and location can also reduce the costs of unnecessary parts purchases.

Improving Asset Utilization

Maximizing the utilization of field equipment employed on jobs is critical to the success of OFS companies. Data from digitalizing the frontline can significantly boost ROI by providing an understanding of asset condition and location, driving process efficiency and delivering real-time data for better asset allocation. Analyzing the efficiency of asset turn-around, coupled with performance and inventory data, helps get equipment back into the field more quickly by identifying common process delays and ensuring application-specific training. Having real-time visibility of asset condition and location can enable better allocation of assets among offices and faster response times to customer requests.

Data-driven Pricing Optimization

Understanding the true costs of asset deployment and maintenance provides critical insights for pricing models in OFS. Using data from frontline maintenance and repair activities can deliver visibility into the overall cost of operations and local/regional differences in the costs of repairs. Full visibility into costs enables the development of both more accurate pricing models that account for variations in location and usage, and also more innovative pricing programs or service contracts that provide OFS companies competitive advantages while ensuring profitable operations.

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Closing the Loop on In-Process Defect Repair in MTO Manufacturing

As manufacturing companies continue to adapt to the challenges of the economy, supply chains and the labor market, Make To Order (MTO) concepts have been embraced across industries. A Deloitte survey stated that 38% of manufacturers had implemented some make-to-order manufacturing processes, while 27% planned to do so in the coming five years. Seeking benefits like lower inventory costs and more flexibility, companies are also experiencing new challenges like increasing complexity and longer production times.

One area where these challenges seem to repeatedly exist is in the defect to repair loop within the manufacturing process. On a recent plant visit, we observed the quality team conducting inspections at production gates using paper checklists. Those checklists were collected and data entered each day to produce a work list for the next day. We had just recently seen a similar approach on a faster moving line, where inspectors telephoned production team leaders to describe defects and assign operators to follow the unit to complete the fixes. In this case, the company also employed fixers at the end of the line to cover defects that were not addressed.

Unfortunately, the reliance on paper checklists for in-process quality inspections in MTO manufacturing is all too common, and so is the lag time between defect detection and repair, adding cost and increased possibility of defects in finished product. Even implementing digital checklists is not a panacea for shortening the time to defectless products. While collecting more quality data, faster, and in an automated fashion is a significant boost to identifying quality issues and driving corrective actions, there is still a gap between defect and repair that needs a much more responsive solution and greater automation.

Closing The Loop

Forward thinking manufacturing companies are beginning to look to digital technologies to help drive quality by assisting workers with digital work instructions. These technologies can drive, through access to instruction and repetition, better adherence to standard operating procedures which in turn lessens defects. However, what is beginning to happen with the adoption of digital tools are digital silos of information and automation. Digital tools for production workers and digital tools for quality staff.

What is needed is a closed loop approach from defect detection to repair to verification, that aligns the efforts of quality teams with production teams. Consider the example of the MTO manufacturing plant we visited. Instead of a day lag between defect detection and repair, imagine that both quality teams and production teams had digital tools tuned to their specific jobs that could share in a common process.

Mobile apps for in-process inspections could capture and report defects to production teams, whose digital tools could provide work instructions and the ability to document the repairs with notices to quality team members to close the loop. Defect to repair processes would be automated, reducing time to repair and costs of rework for repairs that are now slipping through the process.

Where Quality Meets Execution

The momentum around digital quality management, eQMS, is growing strongly. Estimates of the US market for eQMS were about $8 billion last year with growth of about 10% per year. Most of these systems have a focus on the management of quality policies, documents and data, but lack a strong connection to the execution of quality processes on the frontline. This is particularly the case for in-process quality inspections and defect detection to repair within MTO manufacturing environments.

ROO.AI saw the emerging gap as we worked with MTO manufacturers, and began to develop a frontline digital automation platform to align the work of quality and production teams. ROO.AI digitalizes in-process quality inspection, allowing quality teams to quickly and consistently execute inspections, and automate the collection of defect information including image and video annotation. Defects are instantly visible within the system for reporting purposes and also to production teams. Alerts can be created, defects can be assigned or claimed, repairs executed and status automatically conveyed to quality teams for verification. For MTO manufacturers a record of every inspection defect and repair can be associated with the product for future reference with warranty and service claims or for quality analysis.

Digitalization of the frontline process for quality inspection and defect repair is the way of the future. When MTO manufacturers are ready to take this step, they should avoid the creation of digital silos and adopt a closed loop platform that drives improved quality, faster defect to repair and shorter build times.

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Challenges of Digital Transformation in Manufacturing

Navigating the challenges of digital transformation in manufacturing is no easy feat, but the potential benefits make tackling these obstacles well worth the effort. 

The manufacturing industry is undergoing what can only be described as a seismic shift. The most tech-savvy manufacturers are transforming everything from core manufacturing processes to supply chain management using advanced digital solutions, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, and cloud computing. 

However, not all companies find it equally easy to embrace digital transformation in industrial manufacturing.

What Is Digital Transformation in Manufacturing?

Digital transformation in manufacturing is the process of adopting and integrating digital solutions into the manufacturing ecosystem. 

At the core of digital transformation in manufacturing is the concept of Industry 4.0, which refers to the fourth industrial revolution. This revolution builds on the foundation of automation and computerization from previous industrial revolutions. It takes manufacturing to new heights by connecting machines, products, and people through digital networks. As a result, Industry 4.0 manufacturers can harness real-time data to:

  • Increase efficiency 
  • Make smarter decisions
  • Reduce costs
  • Improve quality control
  • Quickly adapt to changing market demands
  • Gain a competitive edge in the market

According to Gartner, 80 percent of manufacturing CEOs are increasing digital technology investments to counter current economic pressures, including inflation, scarce talent, and supply constraints. For their investments to yield the desired outcomes, manufacturers must overcome the following challenges of digital transformation in manufacturing.

1. Change Is Difficult

Perhaps the most significant challenge associated with digital transformation in manufacturing is the fact that change is always difficult—especially when it requires the whole manufacturing process to adapt to a new way of thinking. Both frontline workers and middle management may be hesitant to abandon familiar workflows and legacy systems in favor of unfamiliar digital technology.

To overcome this challenge, manufacturers need to prioritize communication and provide all employees whose day-to-day tasks are affected with the necessary support and training. One effective solution is to deliver clear instructions in context and at the point of need using modern next-generation digital assistance tools with support for visual guidance. Such tools help ease the transition for employees, and they can also be used to collect data and analytics on employee performance. 

2. The High Initial Cost of Digital Transformation 

Another major hurdle in the journey toward digital transformation in manufacturing is its high initial cost. Small and medium-sized manufacturers are particularly reluctant to take the plunge because they don’t have the same economies of scale or access to funding as larger manufacturers.

However, it’s crucial to remember that the cost of not investing in digital transformation could be far higher than the initial investment required. In fact, not investing could even jeopardize a manufacturer’s ability to compete in the global market by putting it at a disadvantage compared with more technologically advanced companies. Therefore, manufacturers should consider the high initial cost as a necessary investment in the future success of their businesses.

3. Insufficient Knowledge and Experience 

A considerable challenge of digital transformation in manufacturing is the lack of relevant knowledge and experience required to implement advanced manufacturing technologies safely and securely. Unless addressed, this knowledge gap can lead to the misuse of new digital tools, hindering the overall effectiveness of the digital transformation strategy.

Just like when addressing employees’ reluctance to change, manufacturers should prioritize the education and training of their workforce so that each employee can confidently adopt and adapt to the new digital technologies. Moreover, manufacturers can create digital SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and combine them with smart automation tools to ensure that frontline workers are always automatically equipped with clear guidelines. 

4. Human Errors

A 2021 study conducted by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute (MI) predicts that 2.1 million manufacturing positions will go unfulfilled by 2030. Consequently, it will be increasingly difficult to find employees with plenty of experience with modern digital manufacturing under their belts. That’s bad news because inexperienced employees are more likely to make mistakes, and human errors in manufacturing can be highly disruptive and costly. Therefore, it’s essential to address these mistakes head-on and minimize their impact.

To tackle human errors, manufacturers should invest in a combination of reskilling, upskilling, and digital training initiatives. Reskilling helps employees transition to new roles, upskilling adds new skills to enhance their existing roles, and digital training equips them with the necessary digital skills to excel in the modern manufacturing landscape.

The implementation of digital work instructions (DWI) and visual guidelines can also be highly effective in reducing human errors. These resources ensure that employees have access to accurate and up-to-date information, which minimizes confusion and missteps. 

Overcome All Challenges of Digital Transformation in Manufacturing 

Digital transformation in industrial manufacturing has the potential to be a source of significant competitive advantage for manufacturing companies, helping them improve product quality, expand their offerings, lower maintenance costs, and much more. 

To reap these benefits, manufacturers need to overcome the above-described challenges, and that’s something ROO.AI, the next-generation digital assistant, can help with. 

With ROO.AI, manufacturers can: 

  • Ease the transition to digital solutions, reducing resistance to change
  • Offer on-the-job training to bridge the knowledge gap
  • Minimize human errors with clear, visual instructions
  • Improve employee performance and productivity through data and analytics

Learn more about ROO.AI and how it can help manufacturing companies unlock the full potential of digital transformation. Don’t let the challenges of digital transformation hold you back. 

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What Is a Quality Inspection in Manufacturing?

A Quality inspection in manufacturing is the crucial process of measuring, examining, and testing various aspects of a product. By meticulously comparing the results of quality inspections with predefined specifications or requirements, manufacturers can detect defects in their processes and in their products before they are packaged and shipped. In essence, a quality inspection is a protective shield that defends both manufacturers and consumers from the potential disappointment of defective goods.

Manufacturing inspections are part of a broader strategy known as quality control in manufacturing, which is designed to establish and uphold high standards of excellence in the production process. Let’s dive deeper into the intriguing world of quality control and explore the different types of quality inspections as well as some of the most important (and often overlooked) reasons why they should be performed. 

The Role of Quality Control in Manufacturing

In the intricate dance of product creation, quality control in manufacturing stands as a pivotal player. This strategy rests on best practices, stringent adherence to standards, and meticulous specifications to deliver flawless products. By employing robust quality control measures, companies can:

  • Reduce costs: Quality control allows manufacturers to cut unnecessary expenses associated with defects and rework. By catching errors early or preventing them entirely, companies can avoid the costs of rectifying mistakes down the line.
  • Curb waste: By maintaining high standards and detecting flaws early, quality control can minimize the number of defective products. This leads to less waste, contributing to more sustainable and cost-effective production processes.
  • Protect reputation: A strict quality control process ensures that only high-quality products reach the market, thereby safeguarding a company’s reputation. It reduces the risk of defective goods tarnishing the brand’s image, and in turn, helps maintain customer trust and satisfaction.

Quality Control Versus Quality Assurance 

Quality Assurance and Quality Control are essential components of any effective manufacturing operation, but they serve distinct roles.

QA is a proactive approach to prevent defects by emphasizing the production process. It’s about systematizing quality through the creation and strict adherence to operational procedures during the production processes. This strategy not only ensures the quality of the final product, but also boosts overall efficiency and productivity.

QC, on the other hand, is a continuous process that enforces and verifies adherence to quality standards throughout the manufacturing cycle. It includes various types of quality inspections, from process inspections to final product checks. These steps are crucial for detecting and correcting any deviations before the product reaches the customer. 

Types of Quality Inspections in Manufacturing

The following types of quality inspections each serve a unique purpose and occur at different stages in the manufacturing process, they all contribute to the same overarching goal: to deliver a product that’s up to par every single time.

  • Pre-production inspections: These inspections are performed before the production line comes into action, focusing on the quality of materials and components used. Such proactive measures help detect potential issues early on, thus ensuring a smooth transition to the production inspection stage.
  • In-process inspections: Occurring during the manufacturing process, these inspections involve quality managers or other qualified personnel assessing everything from individual operations to comprehensive functional systems. Their objective is to guarantee that each element enhances the final product’s quality.
  • First Article Inspection (FAI): This refers to an in-depth and comprehensive manufacturing inspection conducted on the first product produced using intended manufacturing methods. It serves as a validation that these methods and processes can consistently produce items meeting the predefined specifications.
  • Final Random Inspections (FRI): Performed when the product is prepared for market release, this quality control method involves testing all finished products or a random sample of the finished product against the specified quality standards. It aids in identifying and correcting any lingering issues before the product reaches customers.
  • Loading inspections: As a final step before the product commences its journey through the supply chains, this inspection ensures that the right quantities of the product are securely and safely loaded for transportation, mitigating any potential issues upon delivery.

These types of quality inspections are all critical checkpoints on the road to exceptional customer satisfaction, ensuring that every product that leaves the factory floor is a shining example of the manufacturer’s commitment to excellence. 

The Importance of Equipment Inspections in Manufacturing 

Without reliable, well-functioning equipment, maintaining consistent product quality is an uphill battle. This is where equipment inspections come into the equation. They ensure the tools of the trade are in top shape, thus minimizing the risk of flaws or failures in the product output. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most essential reasons why manufacturers should inspect their equipment: 

  • Ensuring worker safety: Inspections serve to protect the health of employees. They help identify any potential safety issues with the equipment, reducing the risk of workplace injuries and associated costs such as worker compensation claims.
  • Mitigating legal risks: Regular inspections may be required by law. Failing to perform these inspections can result in penalties, fines, and potential liability. Conducting equipment inspections demonstrates due diligence and compliance with legal safety requirements.
  • Lowering maintenance costs: Regular inspections allow early detection of problems, which are cheaper and easier to fix before they escalate. This prevents improper repair and use of faulty equipment, thereby minimizing maintenance costs in the long run.
  • Facilitating effective management decisions: Inspections provide vital information to management, aiding in cost control, budgeting, and planning. The predictability of equipment downtime allows for better scheduling to minimize productivity loss.
  • Improving equipment procurement: Analyzing inspection records over time can inform better decisions about equipment purchases. By identifying recurring problems, management can make informed choices, favoring equipment with better performance and reliability history.
  • Ensuring calibration accuracy: Manufacturing processes often rely heavily on equipment that must perform to exact specifications. This is especially true for equipment whose sole purpose is to measure products and components in process accurately. Regular inspections ensure that such equipment is accurately calibrated, which is essential for maintaining consistent quality. 

In essence, equipment inspections in manufacturing are not just an obligation but an essential strategy for efficient operations, financial prudence, and optimal product quality. They represent a win-win for manufacturers, workers, and customers alike. 

Paper – The Quality Inspection Killer

The conventional method of carrying out inspections, predominantly on paper, poses numerous challenges. It is prone to human errors, data inconsistencies, delays in reporting, and difficulty in tracking and analyzing trends over time. These obstacles often compel manufacturers to rely heavily on specialized Quality staff to conduct inspections, potentially creating bottlenecks and limiting the full potential of the workforce.

Enter modern digital tools like ROO.AI, which is revolutionizing the quality inspection process at every level—from pre-production to in-process checks, final product verification, and equipment inspections. It eliminates the dependency on paper, thereby addressing the standard issues associated with manual documentation.

ROO.AI’s groundbreaking visual interface and guided work instructions ensure that no inspection point is overlooked. The platform’s ability to automate data collection significantly reduces inspection times, providing instant visibility into defects for quality checks and process audits.

But the transformation doesn’t stop there. ROO.AI also empowers the broader workforce to participate more actively in the quality process. By providing clear instructions and real-time feedback, ROO.AI aids in upskilling workers and enabling more self-verification of their work. This strategy not only improves product quality but also enhances production speed. In turn, it impacts both the top line, by enabling faster delivery to the market, and the bottom line, by reducing waste and rework costs.

Conclusion

Quality inspection keeps every successful manufacturing operation on the right track. This rigorous process spans from the assessment of raw materials to final product checks, and even the equipment used, to assure high product quality and safety, reduce costs, enhance efficiency, and safeguard brand reputation.

In this intricate dance of manufacturing, digital tools like ROO.AI have a pivotal role because they boost inspection efficiency and actively involve the workforce in quality processes. As we enter the era of Industry 4.0, ROO.AI’s role, and the role of quality inspection in manufacturing in general, is guaranteed to only become more significant. 

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Visual Inspections: The Unsung Hero of Quality Control

The realm of quality control is teeming with jargon and technicalities, but at its core is one critical process that often receives far less attention than it deserves: the humble visual inspection.

What Is Visual Inspection?

At its heart, visual inspection is an observation-based assessment method. It’s a form of non-destructive testing (NDT), which means it allows inspectors to evaluate products and equipment without inducing any permanent alterations or damage (which is the domain of destructive testing methods).

In its most basic form, visual inspection relies only on the human eye and the keen sense of observation and intuition of the person performing the inspection. But because the human eye is in many ways limited, most real-world inspection techniques rely on specialized equipment, such as magnifying glasses, microscopes, or infrared cameras, to explore areas not easily visible.

Visual inspections are commonly performed by:

•  Maintenance technicians: These professionals regularly conduct visual inspections of equipment and machinery as part of their preventative maintenance routines.

•   Quality control inspectors: In manufacturing, quality control inspectors are specialized professionals who examine products to ensure they meet specified standards.

•   Assembly line workers: Serving as the first line of defense against defects in the manufacturing process, assembly line workers perform basic visual inspections on each item that passes through their station.

In the era of technology, it’s not uncommon to utilize remote visual inspection methods in certain circumstances. These methods allow for visual inspections to be conducted in areas that are difficult, hazardous, or impossible for a person to access directly. Examples include inspections of pipelines, large machinery, or confined spaces.

What Is the Goal of Visual Inspection?

Regardless of who performs the visual inspection procedure, its goals are always similar, and they include:

•             Identifying defects: This is the primary goal of any inspection. By observing a product, machine, or structure, inspectors can identify visible defects that may affect performance or safety.

•             Assessing condition: Visual inspections provide a snapshot of the overall condition of a system or object. This can include determining wear and tear on a machine, evaluating the condition of a building’s exterior, or assessing a finished product’s quality.

•             Ensuring compliance: In many industries, products and procedures have to meet certain standards or regulations. Visual inspections are often used to ensure these standards are being met.

•             Enhancing safety: Safety is paramount in virtually every industry, and visual inspections play a crucial role in maintaining it. By identifying faulty equipment and other potential hazards, visual inspections help to create a safer working environment.

•             Reducing costs: When issues are proactively identified and addressed early on, it’s often possible to prevent more serious, and consequently more expensive, problems down the line.

How to Standardize Visual Inspections?

While the task of standardizing visual inspections may seem challenging due to their subjective nature, it’s a journey well worth embarking on because consistency is key to maintaining quality control and ensuring safety.

The creation of standard visual inspection procedures makes sense for all inspections that take multiple steps to complete, such as those involving complex equipment. Of course, it’s not necessary to document basic visual inspections that take just a few moments to complete and are performed over and over again.

When standardizing visual inspections, it’s a good idea to follow these key steps:

1.          Identify all assets that require inspection. Start by creating a list of all assets that need regular visual inspection. Don’t underestimate the importance of this step. You don’t want to miss an important piece of equipment that might fall into disrepair or cause a safety issue if not regularly monitored.

2.          Define which criteria trigger an inspection. Specify what factors or conditions should trigger an inspection. This might include regular intervals (e.g., daily, monthly), after specific events (e.g., after equipment usage or post-assembly), or in response to identified issues (e.g., following a system malfunction).

3.          Establish clear defect guidelines. It’s important to provide clear criteria for what constitutes a defect. Visual guides, photographs, and descriptions can all be used to assist visual inspectors in making accurate and consistent assessments.

4.          Create standard visual inspection procedures. Develop clear, step-by-step procedures that inspectors should follow during a visual inspection. This could include directions on using specific inspection equipment, how to approach different areas of the asset, and how to document and report findings.

5.          Integrate visual inspections into maintenance routines. Make visual inspection a core part of your regular maintenance procedures. This could be as simple as adding inspection tasks to your existing maintenance checklists, but there are modern digital solutions that can be used to automate scheduling, issue reminders for inspections, and facilitate more efficient documentation and tracking of inspection results.

One such solution is ROO.AI, a next-generation visual inspection platform that shows workers exactly what to do and when they need to do it.

Enhanced Visual Inspections With ROO.AI

ROO.AI makes it easy to integrate visual inspections into maintenance routines thanks to its unique visual, data-driven approach that’s designed from the ground up to be intuitive, efficient, and mobile-native.

Instead of sifting through endless manuals or trying to recall the specifics of a training session, technicians can simply use ROO.AI to navigate standard visual inspection procedures right on their mobile devices.

ROO.AI provides guided assistance to ensure process standards are adhered to, and it collects valuable data that can be used to further enhance quality control processes.

When a technician empowered with ROO.AI identifies an issue, they can take immediate corrective action on the spot, ensuring the issue is addressed swiftly and thereby reducing downtime and potential subsequent damage.

In essence, ROO.AI brings visual inspections to the 21st century by harnessing the power of digital technology and intuitive design. 

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SOP for Manufacturing: The Blueprint for Consistency and Quality Control

In the world of manufacturing, achieving operational excellence and maintaining quality control is a continuous endeavor. One of the keys to success in this journey is the implementation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

SOPs in manufacturing are more than just sets of instructions; they are a strategic approach to ensure consistency, streamline operations, and uphold the highest standards of health and safety in the industry. 

Let’s delve into the importance of SOPs, their role in the manufacturing process, and how digitized SOPs are revolutionizing manufacturing operations. But first, we need to define what an SOP in manufacturing is. 

What Is an SOP in Manufacturing? 

An SOP in manufacturing, or a Standard Operating Procedure, is a detailed, written set of procedures that guides the step-by-step execution of a specific task or operation within a manufacturing environment.

You can think of an SOP as a blueprint that ensures each employee performs their specific tasks consistently, reducing variability, enhancing quality control, and ultimately, contributing to the overarching goal of operational excellence.

Why SOPs in Manufacturing Are Essential for Operational Excellence

SOPs in manufacturing offer so many benefits that they are no longer optional. Instead, they are a fundamental necessity for achieving operational excellence. 

Here are some of the most important benefits that manufacturers can unlock: 

  • Streamline operations: An SOP in manufacturing serves as a guide, providing a clear and concise step-by-step procedure to accomplish specific tasks. This prevents confusion, reduces questions, and ultimately leads to improved operational flow and reduced downtime.
  • Improve consistency: Consistency is key in manufacturing. By clearly defining the method and process for each task, SOPs ensure that operations are carried out uniformly, regardless of who performs the task. This uniformity guarantees that the product quality remains consistent, enhancing customer satisfaction and trust.
  • Reduce waste: By specifying the exact process and quantities required for each operation, SOPs minimize the chances of errors and rework, effectively reducing waste. This not only saves resources but also contributes to environmental sustainability.
  • Increase efficiency: A well-written SOP manufacturing process acts as a roadmap for team members, clearly outlining roles and responsibilities, reducing the time taken to train new employees, and allowing for a smoother transition of roles within the team. This leads to an increase in efficiency and productivity.
  • Quick identification and correction of issues: SOPs provide a clear framework for identifying when things go wrong. By comparing the actual performance with the SOP, team members can quickly detect deviations and correct issues, leading to faster resolution times and improved productivity.
  • Regulatory compliance: Manufacturing industries often have to adhere to stringent regulatory standards. Comprehensive SOPs can help ensure that all operations are compliant with local, state, national, or even international regulations, thus avoiding legal complications and penalties.

In essence, effective SOPs can transform a complicated maze of operations into a well-oiled machine, and there is no shortage of real-world case studies that underscore this point. 

SOP Manufacturing Process Case Study: Molson Coors

One of the most compelling examples of the transformative power of SOPs in manufacturing can be observed in the actions of Molson Coors, a Canadian-American brewing giant. With a complex supply chain and numerous tasks to manage at each stage, the company saw an opportunity for optimization: implementing effective SOPs.

Over time, Molson Coors implemented SOPs across all their facilities and into every stage of the manufacturing process, from the initial brewing to the final packaging. 

As a result of implementing SOPs, Molson Coors reported a significant reduction in quality-related issues and lost-time incidents. Specifically, the company saw a 33% reduction in lost-time incidents and a 50% reduction in quality-related issues. The SOPs allowed for quick identification and correction of issues, leading to faster resolution times, improved productivity, and, ultimately, improved bottom line.

The Modern SOP: Digitized SOPs in Manufacturing

Traditionally, SOPs were paper-based documents, but with advancements in technology, we are witnessing a shift toward digitized SOPs. Such SOPs present information in an easy-to-digest format, which can significantly improve the employee’s comprehension and reduce the chances of misinterpretations or mistakes.

One platform that’s leading the charge in this digital transformation of SOPs is ROO.AI, whose functionality includes: 

  • Real-time data collection and analysis: By integrating with the existing systems, ROO.AI collects and analyzes data in real time, providing valuable insights for continuous improvement.
  • Collaboration: The platform encourages employees to share their insights and ideas, enhancing the work process and eliminating waste.
  • Change tracking: ROO.AI provides a system for tracking and implementing proposed changes, ensuring that the SOP manufacturing process remains current and effective.

As we move forward, tools like ROO.AI will continue to play a crucial role in transforming the manufacturing sector, driving efficiency, consistency, and quality in operations. Therefore, the adoption of digital SOPs in manufacturing should be a strategic priority for all manufacturing companies.

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How to Create SOPs that Work for You?

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) play a crucial role in ensuring frontline work processes are performed consistently, safely, and efficiently, making it possible for businesses to deliver better products and services to their customers. 

Yet, the usefulness of SOPs is often greatly undermined by the medium through which they are communicated: paper. That’s because traditional paper-based SOPs are plagued with issues, including difficulties in keeping them updated, the inability to dynamically include tribal knowledge or the ease with which they can be damaged and lost. 

Additionally, paper-based SOPs don’t reflect the fact that people process visual information much faster than text. They force workers to read often lengthy descriptions of what to do instead of instantly showing them the same information using visual aids, such as videos, images, and diagrams.

SOP digitalization aims to overcome the limitations of delivering work instructions to the frontline on paper, but simply recreating paragraphs, checklists, and tables using a word processor isn’t sufficient since it leaves the issue of slow text processing by the human brain unaddressed. 

Instead, businesses need to combine digital delivery with visual guidance. Visual SOPs that incorporate a variety of different visual aids and are presented in an interactive form using modern digital devices can improve comprehension, retention, and engagement among workers. By adopting this approach, businesses can create SOPs that are not only more effective but also more appealing and enjoyable for workers to use.

Roadmap for Creating Powerful Digital SOPs 

The following roadmap provides a series of practical steps for creating visually-oriented digital SOPs that greatly outperform their paper-based counterparts, delivering so much value to frontline workers that their implementation never faces any resistance—quite the opposite. 

1. Set Your Goals

The first step in creating powerful digital SOPs is to determine what you want to accomplish by identifying the tasks that could benefit from standardization. The chances are that you will identify multiple tasks, and we recommend you always start with the most repetitive ones because they have the most significant impact on the overall efficiency of your processes. 

2. Define the Scope of the SOP

Next, you should define the scope of the SOP you’ve decided to start with. This involves identifying where the SOP will be used and who will use it. The goal here is to create more targeted and thus more relevant instructions. 

3. Include Frontline Knowledge

To achieve the best results when creating digital SOPs, you need to involve as many relevant people as you can. Frontline workers are especially important because they are closest to the processes and have invaluable knowledge and insights that should always be included in SOPs. 

4. Keep It Simple and Visual 

Digital SOPs provide the opportunity to present information in a visually engaging manner, and it’s paramount not to let this opportunity go to waste. It’s estimated that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text, so businesses should skip long chunks of text and use images, videos, and even voice recordings to deliver the message instead. 

5. Regularly Review and Update the SOP 

Even the most well-thought-out digital SOPs don’t remain accurate forever because processes, technologies, and best practices are constantly evolving. This is why businesses should revisit their SOPs every 6 to 12 months and update them if necessary. Frontline workers should be invited to suggest how the SOPs they work with could be improved—not just during the regular reviews but on an ongoing basis. 

Benefits of Digitalizing SOPs

Businesses that successfully digitalize their SOPs by following the roadmap above can unlock a number of important benefits, including: 

  • Increased productivity: Even seasoned employees sometimes forget the exact steps they need to follow to perform specific tasks, leading to wasted time and decreased productivity. With digital SOPs, workers have immediate access to step-by-step instructions, so they can always be sure of how to proceed. 
  • Cost savings: By reducing errors and minimizing downtime, digital SOPs can help businesses save costs. Real-time monitoring of the completion of digitalized SOPs and analysis of gathered data can help identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies to further optimize workflows and cut down on unnecessary spending. 
  • Greater accuracy: Clear visual guidance provided by digital SOPs can help employees avoid mistakes and perform tasks with a high level of accuracy. This, in turn, can help improve the quality of products and services, increasing customer satisfaction and enhancing the company’s reputation.
  • Improved safety: Digitalizing SOPs can significantly enhance safety by providing frontline workers with easy access to safety procedures and real-time alerts that reflect the current equipment status and other useful information. 
  • Shared knowledge: By effectively leveraging the knowledge of frontline workers and subject matter experts, digital SOPs help businesses continuously improve and innovate because past lessons never go to waste or, even worse, become forgotten. 

These and other benefits are why moving away from paper should be a top priority of every business that relies on SOPs. The good news is that it’s never been easier to create powerful digital SOPs thanks to next-generation digital assistance solutions like ROO.AI

Conclusion

Even in our digital age, many businesses still rely on mostly text-based SOPs documented on paper. Such SOPs don’t take full advantage of the large part of the human brain that is directly or indirectly devoted to processing visual information. Digital SOPs provide a modern alternative, but not all of them are created equal. To fully benefit from SOP digitalization, businesses need to follow the best practices described in this article instead of simply recreating the same old plaintext SOPs using a digital medium. 

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Connected Workers: What’s the Point?

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. 

Summary

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. 

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Why Make Work Instructions Like Consumer Apps?

Work instructions are essential for ensuring that tasks are performed consistently and accurately within an organization, but their effectiveness can vary greatly depending not only on their content but also on their format. 

To overcome the limitations of traditional paper-based work instructions, which are tedious to use, difficult to update, and impossible to track effectively, organizations should look to consumer apps for important learnings on how to deliver work instructions that are smart, interactive, visual, and readily available when needed. 

Understanding the Consumer App Advantage 

Most companies don’t realize that simply making work instructions available on mobile devices in the form of PDF files or some other static document file format isn’t enough. 

Why? Because it doesn’t really deliver a significantly different experience for the frontline worker due in large part to poor usability, which leads to adoption issues.  Together, usability and adoption, are among the top reasons why 65 percent of manufacturing companies get stuck in the pilot phase of their frontline connectivity projects, according to a McKinsey study

In contrast, excellent usability is among the main reasons why consumer apps have become so widely adopted. Indeed, modern frontline workers now use their mobile devices for almost everything, from communication to online shopping to banking. 

Here are four key lessons organizations can learn from consumer apps to make their digital work instruction more effective:

  • Consumer apps are intuitive and enjoyable to use. Consumer app designers have a 2-minute rule: if the app isn’t understood and usable within 2 minutes, it won’t get used. Based on this rule, workers should be able to open their instructions and immediately understand what to do and why. If they need answers to a question, they should be able to get them quickly. Attaching manuals and long PDF documents on a mobile device doesn’t satisfy the 2-minute rule—only interactive visual work instructions that reflect the way in which the human brain is designed to process information do. 

  • Consumer apps are helpful and provide ongoing value. The most popular consumer apps are useful; they meet basic needs or deliver value better, faster, and easier; and they do it day after day. This is why they are used consistently. So if you want mobile work instructions to be used regularly instead of given one look and ignored, think about how to deliver ongoing value. How can the app be helpful to workers on a daily basis? How does it become something that they rely upon in the same way that office workers rely upon their platforms like Microsoft Office or Google Workspace?

  • Consumer apps take advantage of device-specific features. Today’s mobile users spend 90 percent of their online time in native apps. Such apps provide a more engaging experience by taking full advantage of native features. For example, push notifications can be used to deliver smart work instructions at the right time, while a built-in camera can be used to document task completion. 

  • Consumer apps are personalized to each user. Unlike static documents, mobile apps can deliver personalized interactive work instructions that reflect the location, experience, and progress of each user. Organizations can easily experiment with different sets of instructions to determine which set is the most effective. While doing so, they can track user engagement and collect many other metrics to help them make informed changes to their instructions. 

Appify Your Work Instructions With ROO.AI

Anyone can digitize paper-based work instructions to create forms with pictures or sharable PDF files that can be viewed on mobile devices. However, that’s not enough to capture the above-described consumer app advantage. To do that, work instructions need to be turned into an interactive mobile app with an intuitive visual interface to aid with comprehension and information retention. That’s where ROO.AI comes in. 

ROO.AI is a next-generation digital platform designed to empower manufacturers and other organizations to create smart work instructions that show workers exactly what they need to do and when they need to do it. 

Just like the most popular consumer apps today, ROO.AI boasts a fully visual user interface that reflects the latest design best practices to deliver an intuitive and accessible mobile-native user experience. Using ROO.AI, organizations can combine instruction with training, data collection, and messaging to deliver ongoing usefulness. What’s more, they can unlock frontline knowledge by collecting employee feedback and usage data right on the spot. 

Conclusion 

Frontline workers are already great at using mobile apps to get work done, so it makes sense to also use them for the delivery of work instructions. However, there’s a huge difference between using mobile devices as portable PDF readers and using them to provide workers with smart, interactive, and visual instructions delivered via a native mobile app. By incorporating the best practices of successful consumer apps with the breakthrough visualization and smart automation capabilities of ROO.AI, the digitalization of work instruction can be transformative for both the frontline workforce and the company.

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