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Top 5 Digital Transformation Trends in Manufacturing for 2018

Top 5 Digital Transformation Trends in Manufacturing for 2018

If you thought your digital workplace was at the peak of innovation, 2018 will deliver plenty of surprises. As you’ll soon find out, digital transformation is an ongoing process that moves swiftly as new technology emerges. Surprisingly, 47% of companies haven’t even begun their digital transformation process. By keeping up with the trends, you’re already at an advantage.

These top 5 digital transformation trends offer your manufacturing business not just insight, but tangible means of transforming your business in more ways than one. From handheld tools to improve employee productivity to means of streamlining processes along the assembly line, the transformation goes beyond digital.

Integrated Workflows

In today’s competitive global economy, integration is key to ensuring efficient workflows. While each component or department of the business can function independently, you can optimize those functions by integrating tasks and information. Sticking with conventional communication methods like email or voice calls limits the amount of data you can share and the means through which you can send it.

By connecting every employee through an internal communication system, preferably platforms that allow for sharing of information via not just text, but media as well, teams share their skills and knowledge with their peers. Research shows that connectivity helps reduce turnover and increase employee satisfaction, and active internal communication helps.

Ensuring that groups of employees on the production line know what’s happening on the information technology side, or keeping marketing teams in the loop when it comes to software changes in customer-facing settings are only two examples of how integrating workflows benefits business.

Mobile Collaboration

The majority of manufacturing employees don’t work at a desk or don’t even have a corporate email address. Ergo, the bulk of collaboration can’t happen on a desktop device. Technology can have a significant effect on non-desk employee productivity, so making that tech accessible should be a priority for businesses. Mobile collaboration apps give employees more ways to connect, keeping information current and ideas flowing.

Because most employees already have personal devices with internet connectivity, you may avoid substantial rollout costs by allowing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) practices. Even for large companies that require corporate devices across multiple departments, investing in the technology now keeps you a step ahead as the digital transformation forces other companies to follow suit.

Internal communications improve efficiency by making peers accessible to one another, but mobile collaboration apps also promote safety. Disseminating critical information to employees via mass message campaigns guarantees employees receive the details they need when they need it.

Machine Learning & AI

From robots piecing together components on the assembly line to machines that scan parts for defects, technology has come a long way from rudimentary programming concepts. Today’s robots have Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities, meaning they’re learning right alongside your teams.

Strides in programming abilities translate into more accessible user experiences with advanced technology, allowing you internal control and review of data. Incorporating machine learning into your business even reduces the need for outsourcing, since bots can complete many tasks that human workers can.

Adding chatbots to your processes can alleviate strain on human staffers responding to customer inquiries. Precision scanning machines allow staff to focus on other tasks while bots manage quality control. Freeing up your skilled employees to perform more complicated tasks heightens productivity as bots take care of the behind-the-scenes details.

Plus, with advancements in today’s tech, consumers either won’t notice the automation or the faster route to resolution will cancel out potential frustration at conversing with a computer.

HR chatbot

Analytics

Between production statistics and sales figures, you’re already dealing with a lot of numbers. But tracking all matter of analytics from employee behavior to manufacturing output will highlight ways to improve processes and training across the company.

When you incorporate integrated workflows, mobile collaboration, and analytics in your digital workplace, a mountain of data gives insight on how well things are running. By evaluating those figures, you’re able to streamline the steps in your manufacturing process to increase profits and reduce costs.

Employee analytics can spotlight production opportunities you may have missed. Noting times when employee productivity is at its peak may influence changes in daily scheduling, and lags in productivity may indicate potential for diverting resources to other projects. Overall, the more information the better, both in terms of profit and your people.

IoT

The Internet of Things, or IoT, defines the intricate network of computers, machines, objects, and people that transfer data digitally. Beyond the Web, interconnectivity extends to handheld devices, wearables, sensors, and more.

In the manufacturing industry, your production robots may have sensors or software that send information to remote teams. Employee apps might track who’s working and when. There are endless ways the IoT transmits information and promotes efficiency company-wide.
Beyond chatting machine-to-machine, the IoT lets employees contribute data to organizational compilations through both personal feedback and workflow-based analytics. While current figures peg IoT devices around 20.35 billion currently, projections for 2025 indicate that IoT connected devices will exceed 75.44 billion worldwide.

That means your digital workplace will only keep expanding, and keeping up-to-date with advances has the potential to transform your workflow and put your company on the path toward higher profits and lower costs.

To see how Beekeeper’s internal communication and employee app digitally transformed manufacturing company Seaboard Foods, download the case study.



Four Action Items to Increase Productivity in Manufacturing

Four Action Items to Increase Productivity in Manufacturing

Employee productivity has always been a major concern among businesses across virtually every industry, including manufacturing. Lower levels of efficiency and less productive outputs from employees can affect any manufacturer, and even put its survival at risk. It’s vital for an organization to look for ways to increase productivity in manufacturing to survive this competitive market.

However, it’s important to note that low levels of productivity can’t be blamed entirely on employees. Often, it has something to do with the workplace environment and work conditions, along with a variety of factors that define the culture of the organization. Employee talent is a critical asset for any company, and it has to be maximized by ensuring employees are motivated to work and deliver great results they are capable of and qualified for.

Therefore, employers and companies must implement some changes in the setup and integrate some tools to enhance the productivity and efficiency of their workforce.

A very successful plant manager once stated that one of the keys to a thriving manufacturing is to do simple things remarkably well. This means that great results can actually come from mastering simple techniques and applying them consistently.

Here are four powerful ways to use this idea to increase productivity in manufacturing:

1. Give employees easy access to systems they need to do their job well

As a company leader in your manufacturing business, you are often faced with difficult choices. When it comes to improving your off-site or non-desk workers, you can either just watch your competitors become more efficient or give your staff the means to work effectively from any location.

Giving your workers access to systems they need to perform well is one of the secrets to increase productivity in manufacturing. This can be done by integrating cloud services or mobile solutions to enhance their efficiency from outside the workplace. This makes information remotely accessible for them, enhancing their work-life balance.

The most successful manufacturing companies across all industries leverage technology to give their workers easy access to communications, collaboration, and information even when they are off-site. This leads to higher outputs, while arming employees with resources they need to do their job well.

Remote workers can update information in real time. This gives them mobility, which empowers them to get more done in a shorter amount of time. This will also ease workload, reduce time-wasting actions, and amplify productivity. See how Seaboard Foods manufacturing did it.

2. Have a mobile internal communication strategy in place

Internal mobile communication can do more than just managing and distributing information. Quality internal communication strategies can cultivate the development of a community between the workers and employers that will foster a relationship of trust, which is vital to a team working towards achieving a goal.

As the manufacturing industry enters a period of rapid growth in technological advancement, businesses in the industry must embrace a digital approach. With the integration of a mobile internal communication strategy, organizations can streamline workflows, improving their overall productivity and efficiency.

Internal communication strategies are a vital component of any business, especially for employees on the frontlines. Just as mobile devices transformed the way we operate in our personal lives, business mobility can also be revolutionary. Rather than carrying overflowing folders, any system can be made accessible through a simple app. Workers can communicate off-site with similar levels of efficiency they get inside the office. This also allows team members, departments, and production workers to communicate and collaborate more effectively.

Therefore, the use of internal communications and employee engagement app is something that manufacturing companies should consider. There are products that also integrate with existing operational systems, so employees can have all their tools in one simple interface. Since most don’t non-desk workers don’t have access to email, these apps provide a solution for them to keep in regular contact with the whole company.

3. Invest in continued worker education

Workers appreciate the opportunity to enhance their skills and get access to professional advancement provided by the employer. The machining, cutting, and manufacturing industries are constantly changing. New technologies arise, promising these industries to become more efficient than ever. Advancements in technology also require change or development of skills needed for a particular task. With this, workers will need access to education and regular trainings to keep up with what the industry needs and with more advanced skills.

Manufacturing is also a unique industry where employees can just be as efficient and productive as their tools. To get ahead, it is also important for businesses to invest in smarter tools that employees can take full advantage of.

4. Always encourage collaboration

Teamwork and collaboration are vital for a manufacturing business, especially since there are so many safety hazards. The company becomes more safe and productive when everyone works together towards achieving a similar goal with minimal conflict and confusion which are substantial time wasters. While it is important to focus on the work being accomplished, it is also crucial to make sure that every worker feels comfortable as part of the team.

Indeed, effective collaboration is easy when you share a work location or office. However, with non-desk employees working on different production lines, encouraging collaboration may be a challenge.

This is where the implementation of a quality mobile solution comes in. Effective collaboration results in greater growth and innovation without incurring additional expenses. Your manufacturing company can integrate a system that features collaborative elements that will change the way teams work together.

Just increasing your workers’ salary will not always make them truly satisfied. It is important to keep them motivated by integrating innovative tools and implementing strategies and systems that will create meaning and keep them motivated. By giving them access to systems they need to function and perform well, having a mobile internal communication strategy in place, investing in continued worker education, and always encouraging collaboration, you can effectively increase productivity in manufacturing and have a satisfied workforce.

To learn how Beekeeper’s mobile communication app can increase productivity on your manufacturing company, fill out the form to schedule a demo with one of our app experts.
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Motivate factory workers and run your production line like a well-oiled machine

As team leaders, production managers have the essential responsibility of motivating factory workers. There are many ways to do this in an office setting, but motivating factory workers is a different story. It’s much more difficult to maintain a relationship when they’re on the production line and not sitting next to you at a desk.

The management style you use can make or break the success of your company. Your style should depend on your business goals, employees, and personality type. Different worker segments need different leadership styles—a Navy Seal team requires a much different style than a yoga studio.

Get a free demo of Beekeeper here to see how you can improve your internal team communications for desk and mobile staff throughout your organization.

If you manage factory workers, it’s key to understand they don’t come into work simply because they want to work for you. They have their own goals, ambitions, and reasons for coming to work that won’t always align with yours. Your job is to learn what motivates them to suit up for work every day. Gaining new perspectives will unlock key insights to improve engagement and ultimately the bottom line. Non-desk employees need extra support and when they’re provided with the necessary training and resources, they become much more motivated to put in a productive shift.

Here are four ways to motivate your factory workers and get your production line running like a well-oiled machine:

1. Add meaning to their work.

Every factory worker has different needs. We can use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a guide to see what employees need to reach their full potential. Most employers simply cover the two tiers of basic needs, never trying to reach the higher levels people need both at work and at home.

During a company retreat, Chip Conley, Head of Hospitality at Airbnb, asked groups of housekeepers what would happen if someone from Mars landed on Earth and asked them, “What should we call you?” They came up with some pretty interesting names like, “The Serenity Sisters”, and “The Clutter Busters.” In a study done surrounding hourly workers, three core values arose: meaning, dignity, and self-determination.

Meaning: Every job has a meaning and is important no matter the function. Ditch-digger, fry makers, stable cleaners, you name it. Just because they don’t require higher education doesn’t mean their contribution isn’t valuable. If nobody did these jobs, no one could do their jobs.
Dignity: Dignity comes with how an employee is treated at work. Belittling, neglect, or other unprofessional behavior can drastically reduce productivity, health, and collaboration in any environment.
Self-determination: Self-determination is defined as an employee’s freedom within some boundaries to choose what, when, and how a task is accomplished. Giving employees a sense of control and ownership provides an elevated level of satisfaction, which leads to our next point…

2. Give factory workers more control over what they produce.

Giving factory workers the ability to make their own decisions and see direct result will give them more skin in the game to do their job well. Talk about adding meaning to their work!

In a study done on San Francisco garbage collectors, workers rated themselves very high on job happiness. This was due in large part to being able to choose their own routes and the amount of time spent on each route. Showing you trust your workers by giving them freedom to manage their workflow shows you respect their ideas and, in turn, they’ll want to keep bringing you value.

3. Incorporate bottom-up communication.

Most companies only have a top-down internal communication strategy, meaning management can send information to employees, but not the other way around. By using an internal communication system that allows bottom-up communication, you not only improve internal communication in your factory, you also give workers the floor to express their ideas and instill a sense of belonging. The more you make employees feel like they’re part of the bigger picture, the more they’ll give back.

Allowing bottom-up communication is especially important with distributed workforces. See how Seaboard Foods, a manufacturing with more than 5,000 employees across six states, has improved their internal communications and operations with Beekeeper which facilitates two-way communication.

4. Treat factory workers with dignity, regardless of role.

In the book Life on the Line, the author Solange de Santis recounts the year and a half she spent working in a General Motors plant. She chronicled her experience, through the tough working conditions and disputes between workers and management.

Her biggest takeaway from the experience was how hard-working, skilled, and innovative the factory workers really were. The stereotypical view of factory workers as wage slaves was put aside. De Santis showed these workers make a real difference for the company’s bottom line when they are treated with respect, given room to be creative, and have open dialogues across different levels of the business.

For factory managers looking for some key points to remember when brainstorming motivational ideas, these four factors should be met:

· Goal must be clearly understood
· Progress must be measurable
· Have control over achieving the goal
· A reward system when goals are met

Simply paying workers more won’t give employees more job satisfaction. Creating meaning and motivation must go hand in hand to engage correctly. Working with non-desk employees to develop clear intrinsic goals and acting as a model for them through open dialogue will create a more motivating and fulfilling factory floor.

To learn more about improving internal communications, get a free Beekeeper demo now.

Request a free demo with one of our communications experts


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