Breaking the Failure Cycle to Drive Continuous Quality Improvement 

This article is the Cover Story for this month’s issue of Manufacturing Outlook. If you are interested in reading more articles like this, Click Here or visit Manufacturingoutlook.com to read the entire issue and receive a limited-time FREE SUBSCRIPTION. Robin also appeared on the Manufacturing Talk Radio podcast. Click Here for her episode.

By: Robin Fleming, co-founder and CEO of Anvl

Industry 4.0 is upon us, and companies are at a pivotal moment as more industry leaders lean into these digital solutions. Over the past year, 85% of global industry executives have invested in Connected Worker solutions, a trend that will only continue to experience future growth. However, despite these investments, less than half of manufacturing companies have deployed digital, wearable, mobile, or sensor technologies in their operations that their frontline workers will and want to use. 

While companies can reap countless benefits by leveraging digital solutions, these investments must be made with frontline workers in mind. Far too often, companies implement technology that is not designed for frontline workers, causing a fracture in the continuous improvement process and losing out on opportunities to improve quality.

Since nearly 60% of the workforce is disengaged with their work, it’s never been more critical for manufacturing leadership to explore digital solutions that frontline workers and supervisors will actually use. Implementing these solutions allow frontline workers to become quality leaders themselves, driving improvements in quality and process compliance in addition to worker engagement.

The problem

Frontline workers tend to abandon overly cumbersome technology, which then bypasses data collection ‒ the most critical step in continuous learning and improvement. Without engaging Connected Worker platforms, the opportunity for data collection and capturing quality defects is lost at the point that matters most. As a result, there is no way for frontline workers to identify and report compliance issues, or for management to give instant feedback and in-the-moment guidance, resulting in data collection and synthesis delays. 

Aside from unreliable data due to unused processes and tools, disengaged workers may also go through the motions of “pencil whipping” and provide only the minimum data required, if that. Others may use technology that often digitizes paper forms, but the data still remains hidden and makes it harder for supervisors to get the data when needed. No matter what, a static form, even if it’s electronic, can’t provide the necessary insight. 

Without the opportunity for immediate validation or situational prompts, a communication breakdown occurs between frontline workers and managers. When this happens, the continuous improvement cycle fails: at the point where work occurs.

The solution

Leaders must adopt strategies and tools that engage the end-user with technology they will actually use to achieve successful continuous improvement and meet safety, quality, and operational goals. The right tools lead to increased engagement, which ultimately allows companies to unlock data and determine what’s happening on the factory floor in real-time. This includes identifying patterns and trends while also acting quickly on information to ensure process compliance and support supplier quality control.

Using Connected Worker Solutions like Anvl, which routinely sees over 90% engagement and 100% of the required data captured, workers and supervisors become more of a team. The logic-based, data-driven workflows provide up-to-the-minute data about processes, while workers can trigger alerts if they see something that needs immediate attention. This helps companies stop problems earlier and earlier, often preventing them in the first place. As a result, companies can propel their digital transformation to break the failure cycle and improve quality control.

Conclusion

Manufacturing companies have the opportunity to break the failure cycle. However, this can only be accomplished once organizations invest in technology that empowers workers to capture data at the point that matters most. The right digital transformation solution can connect workers and supervisors to critical, incoming data in ways that help find new opportunities for continuous improvement each day. By adopting Industry 4.0 Connected Worker solutions, organizations can foster a safer, more dynamic work environment and, at the same time, produce a higher quality product. 

About Robin Fleming 

Robin Fleming is an entrepreneur and leader focused on developing innovative software technology solutions. Having previously served in leadership roles for brands such as Angie’s List (now ANGI Home Services) and Match.com, Robin is now applying her expertise to workplace innovation for the millions of “deskless” workers with connective mobile solutions.

In 2018, she co-founded Anvl, a software company creating connected teams by capturing real-time data to help businesses improve product quality, safety and productivity with innovative connective technology. Anvl won the 2020 Mira Innovation Award for Automated Offline-capable hazard identification capabilities and was recognized as nominees and finalists in several other innovation awards