5 Ways an App can Increase Employee Productivity in Manufacturing

5 Ways an App can Increase Employee Productivity in Manufacturing

While we spend most of our efforts helping clients, there are times where we step back and reflect on the lessons we learn through these endeavors. I spent half of 2017 working with Crown, a leading innovator in world-class forklift and material-handling equipment. Through the course of this time, I personally saw changes confirming the app we were developing truly was a key factor in an increase in their employee productivity.

Through app usage, Crown developed a productivity mindset and removed organizational obstacles to their workforce productivity. The app gives employees the ability to work efficiently, keep their equipment operational, and ensure that tools or parts are readily available. Employees are now more productive because the former structures and processes, that consumed valuable time and prevented them from getting things done, have been replaced. Now, with higher labor throughput and with the same amount of relative work, they are more productive.

With these efforts in mind, I compiled the following five ways an app can increase a manufacturer’s employee productivity.

1. Reduce movement to optimize task efficiency
There are many factors that can contribute to unnecessary, time-consuming movement including ineffective floor layout; temporarily displacing material, information, tools, or people; and inefficient working methods. Movement can be reduced by strategically placing objects and information within an app, giving employees quick and easy access to this information. This can eliminate the need for time-consuming searches and demonstrations. For example, video of how to operate equipment can help employees better familiarize themselves with key information about the operations, which will empower them to make informed decisions that help improve their overall productivity.

2. Improve scheduling and plan for interruptions to reduce bottlenecksblog image - schedule effectively and plan for interruptions
Companies must act quickly when something goes wrong, or when their process must be put on hold momentarily because of a malfunct
ion, rejections, or any other changes that may occur. By having access to real-time information regarding employees, tools, and materials, adjustments and accommodations can be made for interruptions. Establishing the right system enables a company to determine the feasibility of scheduling requests, estimate the impact, and even minimize the impact it could have on production. 

3. Improve equipment reliability
Neglecting to maintain equipment, tools, or software puts the process at risk from unaccounted-for downtime. Furthermore, equipment that is poorly maintained or outdated will affect product quality. By taking a more strategic approach and analyzing performance data for key trends, potential issues can be anticipated and maintenance schedules created to extend the longevity of tools, equipment, and software. An app that displays these maintenance schedules gives employees quick access and keeps them informed on equipment status, enabling them to know which equipment needs repairs and which parts are needed for the equipment beforehand. As a result, there will be plans in place to help avoid disruptions to production due to unplanned downtime.

4. Optimize inventory levels to reduce shortages
It’s difficult to be productive when the proper tools to handle a task are unavailable. Companies need to account for and address short count, unexpected delays, and/or late deliveries. An app with this useful information allows accurate and timely visibility of inventory, keeps users informed on what’s running low, possible issues that might arise, and helps address these issues before they become problems that will affect production. In the cases where the shortages are unavoidable, having this system in place will enable users to account for them and even re-assign resources in the meantime.

5. Automate the processblog image - increase and optimize your inventory
The advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning has reached, or in some cases 
surpassed, humans in several different work activities. Having an automated process in production, or even part of an existing process can greatly improve the efficiency and productivity of the process. When the gathering and sending of information is automated, the possibility of human error is eliminated, which effectively prevents disruption to workforce productivity.

At Shockoe, we have been helping businesses increase their productivity by implementing these ideas. We even improved our own process by having systems in place to make our process more productive and efficient, so we can deliver an exceptional product to our clients. Our work with Crown has given us insight on how an application can improve a manufacturer’s productivity. By providing functionality like time tracking, inventory and equipment management, parts logs, order checklists, and more, we have successfully improved productivity for Crown’s workforce. Contact us to take the next step toward improving the quality of your company’s processes and productivity today.

3 Reasons to Update Your Workforce’s Technology

3 Reasons to Update Your Workforce’s Technology

Your workforce’s process is structured, efficient, and tested, but over the past few years, your workforce’s technology may have become outdated. Change can be terrifying, especially when changing an established process.

You’re probably asking yourself, “Is the upgrade worth it?”

We’d like to help you answer that question. Here are top three reasons why an upgrade to your workforce technology should be your priority for 2018:

1. Intuitiveness. Today’s recruits — your new employees — live on their mobile devices. The outdated user experience of older devices may be a hassle for newer recruits to learn. Providing familiar experiences via mobile solutions may speed up training time and productivity.

2. Mobility. If your supervisors currently only have a desktop solution, it may be time to mobilize them. By converting to a mobile solution, your supervisors will be able to spend more time with their team on the floor and reduce their paper trail by using a mobile digital device. Mobility also includes freeing up the hands of employees who handle products, which may allow minimizing steps in a process’ workflow.

3. Credibility. When showcasing your warehouse or workforce to clients, having up-to-date technology would demonstrate the high-tech baseline of your company. Clients want to know that their product is being handled with the utmost care. Stay competitive by removing chaotic manual processes and motivating the workforce with mobile technology. Apps create a better customer experience, which in turn leads to repeat business and long-term revenue growth.

Case Study: Arrow Electronics

In 2015, Shockoe began to develop mobile solutions for Arrow Electronics’ Warehouse Management System (WMS). Arrow’s core mission is to be “five years out”; they strive to incorporate new technologies and electronics to become innovators of the tangible future. They service over 125,000 original equipment manufacturers, contract manufacturers in over 90 countries/465 locations. Arrow looked to build a strategy to extend its WMS into Mobile Solutions to increase productivity in its distribution centers and beyond.

Improvements Arrow saw by upgrading their tech:

  1. Intuitiveness. We replaced warehouse operators’ bulky 7-pound RFID Scanners with lightweight, handheld Bluetooth scanners that can be carried throughout the warehouse and kept in constant connection with their devices. In upcoming phases, we plan to have the operators be completely hands-free via wearable technology. By exercising our knowledge in the latest user experience research, we were able to bring their processes to color and implement a simple color language for operators to more efficiently understand their app. We also translated supervisor data into easily consumable graphics that allow for easy sorting and customization.
  2. Mobility. Supervisors are no longer tied to their desks; they can now walk along the floor with full access to their data. Within the apps for the supervisor and operator, we implemented a communication tool to allow for easy messaging and scheduling. When an issue arises, operators can easily message their supervisors and supervisors can walk over to resolve issues.
  3. Credibility. By upgrading to bleeding edge technology, Arrow is living up to their mission to be five years out. They are setting themselves up as an ideal example for mobile warehouse solutions.

Deciding to upgrade?

Whether it’s your clients or your workforce, people love when you step up their experience. Ensure user satisfaction throughout the process by developing a schedule for introducing the upgrade, creating a training plan, and introducing a system reevaluation process to minimize the need for larger upgrades down the line.

Here at Shockoe, our team has aided multiple clients with mobilizing their workforce’s technology through mobile apps, Bluetooth technology, and hands-free technology. From rough sketches on paper to launching the final product, we maintain an intimate relationship with our clients to guarantee that their workforce is content and comfortable with changes to their processes. Check out our awesome case studies for upgrading technology:  Arrow, ONEOK, A.C. Moore, and J.B. Hunt.

Note from Editor: 

If you’re interested in learning more about our engagement with Arrow, you can watch the full Case Study interview here!


Interested in what it would take to kick off your project?

Our experience and core services include strategy & transformation, user experience & design, mobile application development, and API management.