Why real-time data improves job satisfaction and empowers manufacturing employees
By Arjun Chandar, Founder and CEO of IndustrialML, Inc.
Traditionally, manufacturers have put solutions to empower employees and engage the workforce on the back burner, but as workforces become more transient, they are taking these solutions much more seriously. According to a Gallup report, companies with a highly engaged workforce have 21% higher profitability and 17% higher productivity.
To make an employee feel empowered, manufacturers can tailor the manufacturing shop floor to the worker’s skills, talents, and requirements and assist the worker in understanding and developing their competence. It’s clear that knowledge sharing and adaptive learning systems that promote individualized development and learning while working are needed in the industry.
A study looking into Job Satisfaction in Manufacturing SMEs During Digital Transformation found that leaders of factories need to establish a sense of involvement and engagement among all employees. In order to achieve this, the aim for manufacturing leaders should be to develop future intelligent and skilled operators aided by real-time data and automated systems. This can provide long-term relief from physical and mental stress while allowing operators to use and develop their creative, innovative, and improvisational skills without jeopardizing production goals.
Let’s look at how real-time data can bring about this innovation in manufacturing to empower employees.
Communication loops and handling difficult situations
Real-time data gives the person reviewing it something that historical info doesn’t—the ability to identify and tackle problems right away. However, unfortunately, it’s a widespread issue in manufacturing organizations that there isn’t a good communication loop to tackle daily problems.
For example, in a printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing environment, if you weren’t able to control the temperature of your soldering iron, you might overcompensate by making unnecessary adjustments in the process elsewhere. Whereas with real-time data, by analyzing erratic control temperatures, control pressures, or excessive flow rates, it becomes significantly easier to get those problems addressed quickly.
Looking at the semiconductor industry, if a chip manufacturer were able to tell the location of silicon wafers within the resin bath, it would go a long way toward informing the manufacturer how accurate the equipment is and what kind of consistency can be expected from the manufacturing process. If this information is gathered in real-time, it’s a huge boost to an employee who can pay attention to the performance of the machine rather than passing it off to another engineer.
It also means that they have some ability to control decision-making and have the satisfaction of solving a problem. They can be given the responsibility and expectation to perform even some basic troubleshooting steps upon discovering an issue, providing further autonomy. Real-time data also gives employees the sense of an overarching goal, where they feel they are contributing towards something more significant than just the results of their own work. An employee that can see the overall output and sales totals of a factory as it morphs and changes will feel a better sense of belonging and accomplishment for their contribution.
A better working environment
Real-time data makes it easier to acquire, prioritize, and manage work orders, coordinate across different stakeholders, and exchange knowledge and experience across a manufacturing plant. Inspectors can use a computerized template to examine and gather information, minimizing paperwork in maintenance inspections. Factory managers can even see work orders in greater detail, allowing them to prioritize work more effectively based on relevant factors.
Being able to track the time it takes to complete a task is another way real-time data can improve job performance and satisfaction. Manufacturers who want to maximize asset usage and increase production must be able to detect and eliminate bottlenecks. Real-time data gives the speed and detail needed to make rapid choices that may save costs, avert malfunctions, and boost productivity.
By analyzing productivity at every stage of production and comparing current results to historical standards, businesses may detect bottlenecks across their facilities, and therefore, all necessary stakeholders have visibility. Managers are thus able to respond promptly when productivity drops, reducing the effect of roadblocks.
We know that a disconnected manufacturing workforce creates higher turnover rates, lower productivity, and generally poor working conditions. This is why manufacturers need to harness solutions such as real-time data to connect the workforce. These solutions empower them to close communication loops, provide a sense of autonomy, and a generally better working environment. Manufacturers could not only see an improvement in job satisfaction, but also in performance and productivity from the motivating factors that come with an engaged workforce.