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Top 3 Operational Challenges Manufacturers Face Today —and How to Overcome Them

Just when you think operations are running smoothly, machines break down, some of your best employees retire or a quality issue comes up that you couldn’t anticipate. Let’s take a closer look at some of today’s top operational challenges and explore how a connected worker strategy can not only help solve them but also give you a headstart in the era of Industry 4.0.

#1 Keeping a consistent quality level and low waste

operational challenges, For example, the amount of waste coming off your production line can cause headaches and it’s often hard to predict as the amount can vary drastically. Adding to that, it’s hard to minimize waste when you have so many other priorities that seem more pressing.

Your customers hold you to high standards for product quality—and so when a particular batch fails, you may have to redo it. But because quality management is so difficult to validate through traditional quality assurance processes, you may find your company erring on the side of caution and discarding more finished products than you’d like. Each time this happens, you put your production goals at risk and cut further into your profits.

#2 Balancing maintenance with throughput

Lack of a real-time view of how your machines are running means it’s sometimes tough to predict whether maintenance is required or not. You’re most likely forced to devote significant man-hours to maintain and overhaul your machines after a fixed number of hours. However, this also means downtime, in most cases unnecessary downtime… eating into your profits, again.

#3 Optimizing Inefficient Processes

operational challenges 3, The typical manufacturing workforce still wastes far too much time on ineffective communication (aka running around the factory), performing manual machinery checks and keeping paper records. Even if staff does have software in place, it’s forced to spend hours doing double data entry or working with clunky software rather than finding new areas of innovation.

How to overcome these challenges?

As we increasingly hear about automation, artificial intelligence and robots taking away industrial jobs, here at Yoho we also see a different reality: one with millions of non-desk workers (to be exact: 2.7 billion worldwide!) who for the most part have been left behind when it comes to bringing digital transformation to their jobs. Many of your workers are on their smartphones during lunch breaks, so why not put their phones to good use? No one likes filling out a piece of paper when you can just grab your phone to tick a couple of boxes and send off a work report in real-time.

So what about maintenance? Instead of relying on your machine operators, what if you were triggered with an automatic alert after a particular PLC alarm occurred 5 times in the past hour? This could soon be a reality with a connected worker strategy. By layering intuitive digital workflows on top of workers’ everyday activities, you can get rid of paper checklists for quality, maintenance, and general operations. Now, couple this with PLC-or sensor alerts that automatically create a “go check” task means you can build a “data-driven” team. So I hear you think, data-driven??

The 5 W’s: who, what, where, when and why

Well, as humans are not going away—ever—and I mean ever, this means that you should be able to track the 5 W’s: who, what, where, when and why. Much like putting a sensor on a machine, you can give your workers an interface that produces data to execute work in the same way as machines.

Once you’ve got data on the 5 W’s, you can start optimizing for things like time-to-completion, step-time, deviations, quality defaults, etc. To put it simply, you can, for example, zoom in on team-or individual performance and build better performing teams by putting experienced operators together with less experienced operators so they can learn from each other.

Here at Yoho, we are committed to building a “Connected Worker Platform” that brings simple and intuitive tech solutions to industrial workers. This means that we replace paper processes with intuitive digital workflows, streamline communications and integrate with existing systems-and machines to truly create the single interface operators need to do their work more effectively and efficiently. And of course, this goes right to your bottom line.

Get a demo here if want to experience how Yoho can help streamline floor operations and increase productivity!

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