Transitioning from paper manuals to digital work instructions might not seem like a big deal, but this is an important step into the future of manufacturing.
Digital work instructions aren’t just about showing someone a list of work steps in a fancy new format. It allows for real-time instruction, collaboration, and quicker learning than traditional methods. It also allows operations leaders to collect more data about what’s happening in their facilities and where they might need more or less labor.
We’re interested in these solutions because at Veryable, we created the on-demand labor marketplace for manufacturing and logistics businesses as the first step toward the future of manufacturing.
It all starts with labor. We wrote this article because real-time digital work instructions are a step in the right direction for enabling the workforce of tomorrow.
In this article, you will learn about digital work instructions and the best solutions available for manufacturing and logistics companies to standardize and digitize their work.
What are digital work instructions and smart work instructions for operators?
Digital work instructions, also known as smart work instructions, are a digitized version of the standard operating procedures that many supervisors are familiar with.
Digital work instruction solutions often include interactive checklists, video examples of each task to be completed, and reporting tools. Some solutions include augmented reality training in real time.
Reporting is often included in digital work instruction solutions, allowing you to measure the performance of workers as they go down the checklist. Solutions often include a way for workers to request help or notify supervisors, giving operations leaders better visibility into what’s happening by connecting every worker.
Capturing tribal knowledge, standardizing it, and distributing it becomes much more efficient with digital solutions.
What are the benefits of digital work instructions?
- Reduced error rate
- Improved data capture on performance
- Quicker learning for workers
- Greater visibility for supervisors
- Unlocks faster iteration on SOPs
- Creates opportunity for further digital transformation
What types of digital work instructions are there?
There are two main types of digital work instruction: augmented reality (AR) work instructions and “flat” work instructions.
The difference between the two is that flat digital work instructions are presented within the confines of a screen, whereas AR solutions overlay the real world with digital work instructions.
Flat digital work solutions are not as costly as AR solutions, but also do not boast the same levels of improvement in knowledge uptake and ease of use. Because AR work instructions can be used hands-free, they let the operator maintain their full range of motion and mobility while working. AR is a truly real-time solution for guided work, but might take time to implement because many companies can’t afford the hardware required for these solutions yet.
No matter which type of digital work instructions you use, they do offer massive improvements over static work instructions like paper manuals. In one case, technicians using augmented reality work instructions had 36% less errors than with other training methods.
Best augmented reality work instruction tools
The following tools use augmented reality to guide workers through their work. We will show each solution’s features, price (where available), and connectivity so that you can decide which would work best for your company.
Ario is an augmented reality work instruction solution designed for iOS devices. It enables authors to overlay instructions on real-world workzones, and gives supervisors and operators the ability to collaborate in real-time when issues are identified.
Price: Contact Ario for pricing
Features: iOS app, authoring tools, 3D Model placement on real-world objects, process tracking, tasks, checklists, courses, live collaboration and annotation, compatible with Realwear headset, +more
Connectivity: Contact Ario for details
Taqtile’s Manifest is an augmented reality solution designed primarily for AR headsets. The technology has been used by the US Air Force to train technicians.
Price: Starter is $5,400/year. Quick Pilot is $25k first year and $12k/year after. License & Deployment is $50k first year and $12k/year after.
Features: On-the-job authoring, collaboration tools, process tracking, offline access, +more
Best flat digital work instruction tools
The following tools are displayed "flat" on a digital screen to guide workers through their work. We will show each solution’s features, price (where available), and connectivity so that you can decide which would work best for your company.
Tulip is a connected frontline operations platform with a digital instructions component and the ability to use machine vision to track performance and advance operator instructions automatically.
Price: Standard is $1200/station/year, Professional is $2400/station/year, Enterprise pricing is customized
Features: Computer vision for hands-free step advancement, process tracking, no-code logic
Connectivity: IoT machine integrations, systems integrations, popular software integrations, portable data, API
Poka is a connected worker platform designed for the manufacturing environment. It offers digital work instructions and boasts brands such as Johnson & Johnson and Kraft Heinz as its customers.
Price: Contact Poka for pricing
Features: Video instructions, authoring, process tracking, conditional logic, forms and checklists, signatures, +more
Connectivity: API; integrations for CMMS, QMS, MES, LMS, ERP
Parsable is a connected worker platform designed to digitize SOPs, checklists and workflows. This company also boasts well-known brands among its customers, including Georgia-Pacific and Heineken.
Price: Contact Parsable for pricing
Features: Authoring tools, interactive multimedia SOPs, process tracking, collaboration, real-time feedback and issue reporting from workers, +more
Connectivity: IoT machines, API (website says support is provided, but API is not publicly visible)
4Industry positions itself as the “manufacturing platform for 4.0 factories.” Its mobile solution has been used by brands such as Danone and Heineken.
Price: Contact 4Industry for pricing
Features: Authoring tools, feedback and issue reporting from operators, process tracking, smart forms,
Connectivity: integrations with popular software, no-code automation builder
Dozuki positions itself as standard work training software. Its website states that its customer base has included Coca-Cola, Patagonia, Facebook, and Husqvarna.
Price: Premium is $349 monthly, Enterprise is $599 monthly
Features: Authoring tools, modular multimedia instructions, process tracking, version control, document review system, smart forms, feedback from operators
Connectivity: API and integrations
Rever is a connected worker platform with digital instructions for operators and supervisors. It places a particular emphasis on capturing observations and feedback from the front lines for analysis and quick decision making. Its website boasts customers including Mars, GSK, and BASF.
Price: Free trial, Business plan is $5/user/month, Enterprise pricing is customized
Features: Authoring tools, collaboration, process tracking, gamification, campaigns
Connectivity: API, webhooks
SwipeGuide is a digital instruction software with an emphasis on crowdsourcing operational knowledge. Its website boasts customers including Heineken, Pepsico, and ABB.
Price: 350€ monthly for the introductory Pro option, starting at 1000€ per site per month for Enterprise option
Features: Authoring, version control, offline access, dynamic search, collaboration tools, process tracking, +more
Connectivity: Integration partners, Custom integrations, API
Why digital transformation should start with labor-focused solutions
Digital transformation in manufacturing is not an overnight project. There are so many machines and processes to digitize that tackling the issue can seem daunting. However, when you cut through the noise and focus on where you’re seeing the most issues, it’s likely you’ll identify labor as your main constraint.
Because labor creates the flow of value through your operation, everything starts with labor. There are no operational improvements that will not also require making improvements to the arrangement and quality of labor.
When you get the right workers in the right place equipped with the right tools, you have a recipe for success. And it’s much quicker and easier to get the right workers into the right place when their tasks are clearly defined and the barrier to entry is lowered.
That’s why labor solutions like Veryable’s on-demand labor marketplace are the first steps in your digital transformation. Flexible labor will pave the way for an asset-light, localized, customer-centric supply chain that can only function properly with ample flexibility for real-time response to demand.
Learn how to start your digital transformation journey with on-demand labor by reading our blog defining on-demand labor and its immediate applications.