This article appears in the September 2021 issue of Manufacturing Outlook. To read the latest issue or to receive a free subscription, visit ManufacturingOutlook.com
By: Robin Fleming, Co-Founder & CEO of Anvl
The past year brought a significant paradigm shift to the “normal” way of working around the world. During the pandemic, there was an emphasis on the necessity to keep workers safe, product quality high and operations streamlined. This led to an increased investment in Connected Worker technology and the implementation of digital technologies to make manufacturing processes safer and more efficient.
This technology has been essential in keeping manufacturing operations on track, even in the face of pandemic roadblocks and labor shortages. In the last year alone, 85% of global industry executives invested in Connected Worker solutions and market analysts predict massive growth in the next decade and beyond.
However, despite these investments and the prioritization of digitalization initiatives, less than half of manufacturing companies have deployed technologies in their operations with their frontline workers in mind. That is where mobile technology fits into the future forecast of the manufacturing industry.
Since more than 96% of younger workers already have smart phones, mobile Connected Workers solutions are less likely to cause any friction in adoption of new processes because they are familiar with the tech. These solutions capture and unlock real-time data to help businesses improve product quality, increase worker safety and streamline operations. Products like Anvl even provide guided, digital workflow experiences that serve to support and guide workers.
It’s estimated that an overwhelming 70% of businesses that have been successful with digital transformations, like implementing a connected workforce, have done so by leveraging mobile solutions for workers.
Almost half of workers in a recent global survey said they wish they had access to better technological solutions. The right tools lead to increased engagement, ultimately allowing companies to unlock data to find out what’s happening on the factory floor in real-time. They are able to identify patterns and trends, and act quickly on the information. Frontline workers benefit from digital solutions that increase awareness and heighten sensitivity through reminders and situational considerations. Engaging mobile Connected Worker applications is critical for capturing key data from the most knowledgeable workers.
Mobile connected worker platforms make it easy and engaging for frontline workers to be connected. They are easy to integrate because the solution is on devices that workers are already familiar with – smartphones and tablets. Their expertise and experience transfer over to the job. Even for a multigenerational workforce, mobile solutions can be easy for workers to adapt to when it comes to operational procedures, daily checklists, processes and more.
Frontline workers tend to abandon overly cumbersome technology, which then bypasses data collection. Mobile solutions are highly deployable and cause little friction when introduced to frontline workers.
Benefits of Mainstream Mobile Solutions
Investing in mobile Connected Worker Solutions is crucial for manufacturing companies data collection, especially now at this pivotal point in industrial innovation. Understanding the ROI for technology to connect and empower workers is a critical first step for leaders.
In the simplest solutions, a workforce that is connected through mobile technology can save manufacturing leadership teams budget spend on the physical items they are currently using and unlock critical data. As opposed to data that is trapped on paper, electronic forms that are not analyzed in real time, or multiple separate systems, data that is unlocked with easy-to-use technology provides leading indicators to support continuous improvement.
Leading indicator data identified in mobile workflows can provide two key avenues to proactively solve issues: in-the-moment support and real-time escalations and alerts. Instead of waiting minutes, hours, days or weeks to uncover and resolve issues, mobile tech can leverage data in the moment when attention is needed.
The outcome is capturing data at the most important point in the improvement cycle: with the frontline worker at the point where work occurs. Companies will ultimately propel their own digital transformation forward with mobile technology.
The future of the manufacturing industry includes mobile Connected Worker solutions that empower workers to be the voice for innovation and positive outcomes, which in turn builds lasting cultural changes where the most knowledgeable employees are driving the most valuable improvements.
Frontline workers have been resilient throughout the pandemic. Now, manufacturing leaders have an opportunity to capture and leverage data for ongoing continuous improvements. Moving forward, as the market for Connected Worker platforms grows, the manufacturing industry will continue down the path of digital transformation. Investing in mobile Connected Worker platforms needs to be a priority for the manufacturing industry to increase worker engagement and ensure long-term success. ν
Robin Fleming is the co-founder of Anvl, an award winning software company helping companies unlock real-time data to improve product quality, safety and productivity. Anvl’s easy-to-use connected worker platform has collected over 10 million leading data points and routinely sees over 90% engagement from their user base.
She 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 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.