Manufacturing companies are under increasing pressure to improve their operational efficiencies, reduce costs, and deliver high-quality products to meet customer demands. The purpose of this article is to discuss how manufacturers can take their operations to the next level by leveraging digital technology to engage and empower their workforce.

Operations that are manual and time-consuming can now be achieved efficiently with training.

The digital age has brought about a significant shift in the way we work, and manufacturers are no exception. With the rise of automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence, it’s easy to assume that employees’ roles in the manufacturing process are becoming less critical. However, we believe the opposite is true. It is our belief employees do and will need more data and tools to engage and drive decision-making on the floor. The digital age has made it easier than ever before to engage and empower employees to take an active role in the manufacturing process.

Regarding shop floor Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), companies are often looking for the silver bullet or one-stop shop in an attempt to drive employee-based decisions. Often the basic MES scope is too broad, or manufacturers fail to understand the software’s foundational strengths or complexities during the scoping and installation process. Many times, companies do not realize that the basic report packages are not tailored to meet their needs. We find the efforts to digitize or engage hit roadblocks based on cost or manpower required to fully install, therefore disappointing in terms of the final product. In making decisions on MES or digital tools, below are some basic concepts companies should keep in mind when selecting tools to engage employees.

Several considerations are needed in MES or digital solutions:

  • Digital Training and Upskilling
    One of the best ways to engage employees is by providing them with the necessary training and upskilling opportunities. In today’s digital age, this means offering digital training courses that employees can access from anywhere, at any time. By providing employees with access to the latest training materials and technologies, manufacturers can empower them to take charge of their own learning and development.
  • Collaboration and Communication Tools
    Collaboration and communication are essential components of any successful manufacturing operation. By leveraging digital collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom, manufacturers can ensure that employees can communicate and collaborate effectively, regardless of their location. This can help to break down silos and improve cross-functional collaboration, leading to higher levels of engagement and productivity.
  • Gamification and Incentives
    Gamification and incentives are powerful tools that manufacturers can use to engage and motivate employees. By gamifying certain aspects of the manufacturing process, such as OEE, quality control or safety, manufacturers can encourage employees to take an active role in improving these areas. Incentives, such as bonuses or paid time off, can also be used to reward employees for their contributions and help foster a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Scope of MES journey
    The digital journey can be complex and often overwhelming in terms of implementation. The need for prioritization is critical when selecting tools to assist in the journey. Properly scoping product strengths, weaknesses and expansion capabilities is paramount, along with establishing a true estimation of implementation cost and timing.  There are literally hundreds of products on the market today that tout a complete MES solution. In our experience, we have not seen one solution that will fully satisfy the needs of every manufacturer; thus the need to do the upfront work prior to implementation is critical.

Entrusting the workforce is the answer.

In short, the engagement of an employee is critical to the success of any manufacturing operation or supply chain organization. By leveraging digital technology to engage and empower the workforce, companies can take their operations to the next level, improve efficiency, reduce costs, and deliver high-quality products that meet customer demands. With the right tools and strategies in place, companies can create a culture of engagement and innovation that should help them thrive in the digital age. We can assist you in developing your digital road map of the future. Please don’t hesitate to reach out via email to with questions.

Author: Randy Burns

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