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Industrial engineers play vital roles in maximizing manufacturing productivity through optimizing complex processes and systems. Implementing modern automation solutions like workflow software enables streamlining operations, reducing errors, and collecting robust data analytics for continual optimization and smarter decisions.
This allows increasing productivity metrics like output per hour worked, minimizing redundancies, centralizing tribal knowledge, and maintaining agilities to meet changing production needs. By evaluating where current processes underperform due to relying outdated manual efforts or fragmented information flows, industrial engineers can pinpoint where targeted automated workflows make the biggest productivity impact.
Overview of Automated Workflows for Improving Business Productivity in 2024
The core concept behind automated workflows involves mapping common business procedures into software that structured teams can progress through by automatically triggering rule-based actions, notifications, approvals, and data collection at predefined milestones.
Automated workflows aim to:
- Standardize multi-step procedures for consistency
- Reduce human errors and oversight gaps
- Improve visibility with status notifications
- Quickly gather insights across workflows
- Save employees time better spent on value-add work
Engineering customized workflows delivers measurable returns across operations, production, quality assurance, compliance, customer service, IT, and more. But where is the greatest productivity potential within your facilities?
Top Benefits of Automated Workflows for Increasing Productivity
Beyond removing Manual tasks, automated workflows introduce benefits like:
Reduced Training – Onboarding new employees on proper protocols gets simplified through predefined workflow checklists and training resources integrated directly in automation platforms. This allows their full productivity faster.
Enforced Standards – Ensuring assembly line workers, equipment operators, quality assurance testers and other teams complete crucial steps consistently and without deviation optimizes productivity. Automated workflows enforce standardized procedures.
Proactive Governance – Automated alerts on upcoming maintenance renewals, certification expirations, safety evaluations, preventative equipment checks based on run hours takes the guesswork out of governance. Workflows ensure procedures don’t lapse.
Inventory/Asset Monitoring – Closely tracking stock levels, equipment utilization rates, and consumption metrics in workflows means teams can optimize just-in-time management rather than getting saddled doing manual inventory.
Decision Automation – Automated machine learning algorithms can trigger recommended actions or flag process deviations for human approval within workflows. This amplifies productivity beyond just removing manual efforts.
Evaluating Processes for Automated Workflow Implementation
Carefully auditing which organizational areas stand to gain the most from increased productivity by integrating automated workflows is crucial before digital transformation begins.
Create spreadsheets cataloging all major procedures across each department, capturing key details like:
- Current process handling deficiencies
- Steps relying on manual human actions
- Decision checkpoints needing judgements
- Related productivity metrics benefiting
- Available digitized inputs
Interview frontline employees for pain points. Review processes end-to-end. The opportunities will become apparent. Focus initial automated workflow launch on your top priority productivity metric needing improvement.
Guide to Integrating Automated Workflows Successfully
Effectively developing and launching automated workflow systems without disrupting existing operations requires thoughtful change management:
Choose Solutions Aligned on Skill Level – From complex developer platforms to low-code business user tools, validate IT team capabilities match integration demands. Consider partnerships blending strengths if needed.
Design Around End User Adoption – Workflow system usability, self-service customization, and mobility for on-the-go usage ensures employee embracement. Gamify training for max participation.
Incorporate Approval Workflows – Validate automated steps against management decisions at checkpoints through digital signature approvals before advancing workflows.
Build Monitoring Dashboards – Centralized data feeds from integrated workflows fuel dashboards imparting productivity indicators and early anomaly alerts in real-time.
Start Small Then Scale – Introduce workflow automation in phases across targeted processes proving value before companywide systems overhaul.
Measuring Productivity Improvements from New Automated Workflows
Calculating return on investment from optimized automated workflows relies on tracking quantifiable productivity metrics periodically.
Based on which factors the redesigned processes aimed to directly improve, gather relevant before-and-after data for comparison.
If pursuing automated workflows to increase output per hour, closely monitor production volumes over set intervals relative to staff hours logged.
Common productivity metrics benefiting from automated workflows encompass:
- Units produced per employee
- Error rates
- Process cost savings
- Shortened training times
- Reduced safety incidents
- minimzed Asset downtime
- Increased sales conversions
Continuously refining implemented workflows maximizes productivity gains over long-run. The key is staying diligent measuring against targeted optimization objectives that guided automation integrations and making data-driven decisions.
FAQ #1: What are the most common processes manufacturing plants automate with workflows?
The manufacturing processes most commonly automated with workflows include inventory management, production monitoring, quality assurance testing, maintenance scheduling, supply chain coordination, new employee onboarding, defect resolution, and corrective action tracking. Structured workflows centralize data and optimize completeness for these frequent procedures.
FAQ #2: How much productivity gain is realistic when automating manual workflows?
Industrial companies implementing intelligent workflow automation see typical productivity gains between 10-30% in the first year. This translates to metrics like 10-30% more output per employee, 10-30% increases in utilization of assets, and 10-30% faster throughput of key processes thanks to removing manual efforts. The higher complexity and reliance on human actions in existing procedures, the more impact automation delivers.
FAQ #3: What mistakes cause automated workflow projects to fail?
Common pitfalls diminishing automated workflow payoffs include: focusing software customizations on optional “nice to have” features rather than core needs, inadequate employee training and onboarding, change management overlooking end user adoption factors, lacks of executive sponsorship, unreliable network infrastructure, and integration deficiencies preventing centralized data aggregation.
FAQ #4: How can the effectiveness of new automated workflows get measured?
Quantifying automated workflow returns requires tracking key performance indicators for productivity tied to the original goals where manual processes struggled, such as: units produced daily, first pass yield, equipment downtime, quality failures, info request response times, number of procedural violations, lost sales from stockouts. Comparing metrics before and after workflows measures impact.
FAQ #5: What are examples of equipment automated workflows improve uptime for?
Production equipment seeing significant uptime and output improvements from maintenance and monitoring automated workflows includes: CNC machines, stamping presses, plastic molding machines, conveyor lines, robotic arms, AGVs, laser cutters, clean room environments, machining tools, 3D printers, and other digitally-enabled assets. Workflows optimize preventative actions.