Technology advancements are creating new opportunities in asset-intensive industries. Simultaneously, challenges are being created for frontline workforces that fail to keep pace with the evolution. Companies often overlook their field workers in digital transformation endeavors.
They still stick to old-school practices, including paper-based work instructions for their maintenance teams, which result in poor performance. Here are five reasons why companies should make digital work instructions a part of their strategy to optimize operations and gain a competitive advantage.
1. Improve wrench time:
Wrench time is the amount of time spent by a technician on the actual work using tools. Traditionally, most of a tech’s time goes into waiting for or fetching work instructions and other documentation from the back-office. In most asset-intensive companies, the average wrench time is only between 25 - 35%. That is, a field tech works only 2.5 to 3.5 hours on executing the job (for example: repairing a piece of equipment or replacing spare parts).
Digital work instructions bridge field technicians and experts at the back-office, saving a considerable amount of time for techs. Technicians directly receive work instructions on their smartphones and jump on to the next task without wasting time, boosting wrench time. Wrench time has a proportional relationship with productivity. On average, companies can see a 57% boost in productivity if the wrench time is taken to 55% from 35%. This comes effortlessly without spending additional resources.
2. Overcome skills gap:
Asset-intensive companies are on the verge of the Great Crew Change as most senior techs are nearing retirement. Companies are going to lose invaluable, unrecorded tribal knowledge with these seasoned technicians, creating a skills gap in the frontline workforce. Digital work instructions enable companies to pass on tribal knowledge to young techs by connecting them with their seniors in real-time.
Features like two-way video conferencing and being able to upload annotated photos and videos enhances case-driven, visual, step-by-step guidance by experienced technicians. This will helps technicians quickly diagnose problems and resolve them efficiently.
3. Maintain regulatory compliance:
Regulations in asset-intensive industries often change in line with industry trends and environmental factors. Conventional, manual practices in frontline operations in companies create chaos during a regulatory transition. Companies require agile practices to quickly reflect changes in their standard operating procedures (SOP).
Digital work instructions enable compliance teams in asset-intensive companies to swiftly update their SOPs. Integrating with SAP systems helps companies keep their teams informed about the changes and stay compliant.
4. Optimize operational costs:
The cost of paper can be easily overlooked. American companies are spending more than $120 billion every year on printing forms, most of which get outdated within three months. Paper is error-prone and can be mishandled and lost, resulting in poor data quality and security. This negatively impacts operations, translating into losses for companies.
Digital work instructions help companies eliminate papers and associated costs, including printing, distribution, and storage. The data is uploaded into SAP systems in real time, leaving no room for mismanagement and inaccuracies. This eliminates reworks, a burden on back-office staff with paper-based processes.
5. Hire and retain the best talent:
The Great Crew Change brings more millennials and Gen Z into the front-line workforce in asset-intensive industries. These younger workers are digital natives who expect their employers to make robust use of technology as a time- and labor-saving tool. They value innovation, engagement and collaboration, not the information silos so often found in paper-based processes. To attract these workers and to keep them once hired, many employment experts recommend companies demonstrate their commitment to technology as well as other factors unique to each generation.
Talent acquisition and retention comes at a premium for companies. One study reveals that large companies spend an average of $12,500 on a new hire. Companies can’t overlook employee job satisfaction and retention. Making digital work instructions an integral part of their Connected Worker strategies is a great addition to the technological and cultural shift in asset-intensive companies. This helps them attract the best talent and retain them for longer terms.
Want to Learn More about Digital Work Instructions?
Innovapptive, a Connected Worker platform provider, offers a Digital Work Instructions solution that can help companies achieve the points above. This solution utilizes a prepackaged library of more than 150 digital work instructions, SOPs (standard operating procedures) and digital forms. These forms can be quickly and easily customized and configured to meet specific user needs as part of the company’s RACE™ Dynamic Forms application.